Despite the series still being relatively popular, this will be first factual Blake's 7 book published in over four years. What will Liberation bring to the market that's new?
Alan: Liberation will be the first book which subjects the Blake's 7 stories to the same sort of close analysis that, say, Doctor Who stories have been given by writers over the years, and it turns up some surprising things. We've had quite a lot of experience in that sort of detailed examination of stories-- Fiona's a professional anthropologist, with a doctorate from Oxford.
Fiona: ...and Alan, as well as being closely involved with DWB, was the one who, as Features Editor, introduced story analyses of this type to Horizon, the magazine of the Blake's 7 Appreciation Society. Besides what Alan said, we've also been given access to some rare material, like first-draft scripts from the series, and we've been able to include excerpts, synopses and so forth from these in the book. Plus we've been careful to go over the facts carefully, so it doesn't have the factual errors that the old Programme Guide did!
With current schedules, the book looks set to come out three weeks before the first DVD releases. Yet what I've seen of the book so far - the cover - details a very impressive, futuristic recreation of events from The Way Back. Is there a sense that you'll please both camps, old hands and those new to the series?
Alan: Undoubtedly so, yes. People new to the series will be able to enjoy finding out more about the episodes, where those familiar with it will hopefully find new angles to explore.
I first became aware of your work with the two fan audios you did with Paul Darrow, Gareth Thomas and Brian Croucher. While I enjoyed reading The Inside Story I felt that it didn't go into enough detail or have enough - for want of a better word - "gossip". Do you think being a fan of the series is actually an advantage as you'll know what a fan would want in such a work?
Alan: To be fair, Sheelagh Wells and Joe Nazarro are fans of the series, even though Sheelagh did work on it as well. That having been said, they took quite a different approach in their book to the one we've taken, so we're not just going over old ground, as it were, and I think both our books complement each other fairly well.
Fiona: We've also tried to pitch the book so that it can be enjoyed not just by hardcore fans of the series, but also by people who are more casual viewers, or who just like classic television in general. It was quite tricky to do-- how do you discuss stories that are controversial in B7 fandom without coming over all polemical and alienating somebody who doesn't know about the controversy?-- but I think we managed it in the end.
Reading previous books on Blake, there's conflicting stories, with some claiming it was a joyous production to others saying they hated the working environment. Was there anything you uncovered that genuinely surprised you?
Fiona: Yes, but more in terms of how the stories were put together, and what they're actually saying, than in terms of how people got on or not behind the scenes.
Alan: In a way, it's a bit of a blanket statement to say that people have conflicting stories like that. Very few people that we've spoken to have said that they hated the production absolutely-- some, like Steven Pacey for instance, became unhappy with the way in which their characters developed, or didn't develop as the case may be, but any series has its ups and downs. Also, different people are going to have different experiences of the same series-- for some of the actors, it was a significant turning point in their careers, for others, it was just something they did and then went on to other things. It depends on the individual.
Continuing the "gossip" theme, would there ever be a case of something being too salacious or potentially hurtful that you'd tone it down or omit it to protect a party's feelings?
Fiona: Well yes, hypothetically if we encountered something like that we would think very hard about how to include it, or whether to include it-- but we haven't encountered anything while doing this book that we felt we had to deal with in this way.
I note that you're also producing Doctor Who/Blake's 7 crossover audios under the Kaldor City line. Did working directly with the actors make it easier to gain access for interviews, etc.?
Alan: Yes-- several of the actors in the Kaldor City series, like Scott Fredericks and David Bailie, provided interview material for us. In fact, some of the original interviews are available on KaldorCity.Com, so you can compare the interviews with the book and see where we got our stories, if you like. Also, we've been given quite a few invitations to conventions and so on because of the Kaldor City audios, where we were able to interview some of the other actors who weren't involved with our series.
I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention that putting "Liberation" into a search engine brings up an unofficial computer game based on the series. Were you aware of this, and what are your thoughts on it?
Fiona: Seen it, downloaded it, played it. Nice graphics.
Alan: Try typing in "Liberation: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide To Blake's 7," and perhaps you'll get the book instead.
If you each had to pick your favourite bit of the book, what would it be?
Fiona: I'd say the analyses for "Weapon" and for "Bounty." "Weapon" because we take a very different approach to the analysis of that one, focusing on what the story tells us about Federation society rather than how the characters and ongoing narrative develop, and as a social scientist I'm quite keen on that sort of thing. "Bounty," on the other hand, is a pretty bad story and we do take it to pieces, but we did it in an affectionate rather than a nasty way, poking fun at the silly stuff rather than slagging it off, so it was actually rather entertaining to write.
Alan: "Terminal" is my favourite, because once you start unpacking that story there's some fantastic ideas in it. Also "Aftermath," for much the same reasons. My least favourite, though, is "Afterlife," the Blake's 7 novel by Tony Attwood, which was abysmal.
Finally, do you both have any further plans for the future with Blake?
Alan: At the moment I'm concentrating on getting *Kaldor City 5: Checkmate* finished, and then we'll see what the future holds.
Fiona: Mostly just rewatching the videos, I think-- it'll be a nice change to watch them for pleasure again!
Many thanks again to you both.
Alan and Fiona: You're welcome.
Interview copyright AnorakZone.com/Alan Stevens & Fiona Moore, 2003. Gratitude extended to David J. Howe of Telos Publishing for arranging this interview. You can read the Anorak Zone's review of Liberation HERE.