Category Archives: Interviews

The Neighbours of Night Terrace: Lee Zachariah

The Kickstarter for the third season of the brilliant radio SF comedy, Night Terrace, is entering its final third. In celebration, I’m interviewing a number of people involved with the previous two seasons and the current series!

Today it’s:

Lee Zachariah

who is a Night Terrace writer and infrequent email replier for Night Terrace Season 1, Season 2 and the current Season 3 Kickstarter.

How did you get involved in Night Terrace?

John, Ben, Petra and David wanted to capitalise on the roaring success of Splendid Chaps, and create an audio science fiction series. They asked me to come along and help create it, which was pretty flattering.

Why did you get involved?

Writing an audio comedy science fiction series with your friends, featuring many of Australia’s best actors and comedians, and everybody gets paid? Why wouldn’t I get involved?

What do you love about the show?

So many things. I love the mythology it’s built up, even if I find it tricky to keep track of sometimes and end up having to text John when I forget a back story or key piece of continuity. But being able to put a comedic twist on classic science fiction tropes is a heap of fun, and I think the show provides the perfect structure in which to do that.

What’s your favourite line/quote from NT?

Right at this moment, purely by virtue of it being the line I’ve thought most about the past few weeks, is a line from the beginning of one of my season three episodes. And it’s not from any of the main characters, either. I probably shouldn’t pick one of my own bits, but teasing the next season feels like a savvy use of this answer.

What’s the best feedback you’ve had about the series?

A friend of mine described in great detail an embarrassing outburst of laughter on public transport at a joke in the first season. The purity of that reaction can’t really be beat, although certified famous person Neil Gaiman praising us on Twitter comes awfully close.

What key skill would you bring if you ended up travelling in time and space with the crew?

Being killed off early, thus increasing the odds of everyone else making it out alive

Would you like to travel in time and space with Anastasia, Eddie and Sue?

Sure.

Really?

Hm. When you put it that way…

Today, 15 November, the Kickstarter has cracked the $18,000 mark. Can we kick it up to $19K today?

Be part of the next season of Night Terrace! Zip over to Kickstarter to listen to the very first episode, and pick your pledge level!

The Neighbours of Night Terrace: Petra Elliott

The Kickstarter for the third season of the brilliant radio SF comedy, Night Terrace, is entering its final third. In celebration, I’m interviewing a number of people involved with the previous two seasons and the current series!

Today it’s:

Petra Elliott

portrait photo of Petra Elliot

who is a Night Terrace co-creator and actor (playing Sue Denholm) in Night Terrace Season 1, Season 2 and the current Season 3 Kickstarter.

How did you get involved in Night Terrace?

I met Ben when I first moved to Melbourne, and we’d worked together before on Museum Comedy. He invited me to co-host the very first episode of Splendid Chaps, which is when I met John, David and Lee. It was only supposed to be a one off gig, but I must’ve done okay, coz they asked me back for every future trillion episodes.

By the end of a year of Splendid Chaps, we knew that project had to end but wanted to keep working together, highlighting each of our individual set of creative skills, and … TA DA!! Night Terrace was born. 

Why did you get involved?

I’d enjoyed bringing the comedic scripts written by John and Ben to life for each Splendid Chaps episode, and by the end I was comfortable enough to riff along with them – and even insert gags to surprise them! It was a dynamic I loved, and I honestly would’ve signed up to continue doing anything with them.

When John announced the Night Terrace concept to the Splendid Chaps Christmas episode live audience, and they responded with SUCH a big cheer, I knew then and there it was a project worth making. 

What do you love about the show?

Our recording days are such a big hoot, so it’s undeniable that I love the process of making the show. How the hell did we convince such amazing humans to share their talent with our little project? 
But also, I’ve listened to these episodes A LOT! Not just for dramaturgy and promo purposes, but because I legitimately enjoy them. And I still enjoy them, after all the re-listens. The jokes, concepts and story arc conceived by John, Ben, David and Lee are simply delightful. I can’t believe I not only get to add my 2 cents to these adventures, but also get to speak the lines as Sue. I’m a lucky girl.

What’s your favourite line/quote from NT?

This is from the live episode, written by all of the lads (see how I don’t pick favourites?!). We got together to do a table read of this episode: it’s always fun when the whole cast can get together ahead of recording days to bond, discover our characters, explain the scifi gags to each other and watch the script come to life. Also, I’ve always loved the Schrödinger dilemma. 

ANASTASIA: No, that was Schrödinger. And also wasn’t Schrödinger. Long story. 

Bloody Ben. Copy cat. Scratch that. My favourite is.. 

SUE: How much do you know about the Uncertainty Principle? 

EDDIE: I’m not sure. 

What’s the best feedback you’ve had about the series?

Being broadcast by BBC Radio 4 Extra was amazing, and helped me realise we’d truly made a high quality product worthy of recognition by industry peers we’ve admired for a very long time. 

The ultimate feedback, though, is the number of Splendid Chaps fans who not only believed in this project enough to back us the first time, but then jumped straight back in for another season, and another. That tells me we’re getting it right! 

I really hope we reach our crowd-funding target as I want to continue sharing the stories of Anastasia, Eddie and Sue for everyone who’s shown us such magnificent support. 

What key skill would you bring if you ended up travelling in time and space with the crew?

More ginger. 

Would you like to travel in time and space with Anastasia, Eddie and Sue?

I think I would. Being stuck in one time and place means you can lose perspective, so taking a look at things on a different planet or alternate point in history might give me the insight I need to make sense of what’s happening in our own hectic world right now.

Really?

I dunno. Ask me tomorrow. 

Would you like to be part of the next season of Night Terrace? Zip over to Kickstarter to listen to the very first episode, and pick your pledge level!

The Neighbours of Night Terrace: Ben McKenzie

The Kickstarter for the third season of the brilliant radio SF comedy, Night Terrace, is entering its final third. In celebration, I’m interviewing a number of people involved with the previous two seasons and the current series!

Today it’s:

Ben McKenzie

who is a producer, writer and actor (playing Eddie Jones) for Night Terrace Season 1, Season 2 and the current Season 3 Kickstarter.

How did you get involved in Night Terrace?

It’s the old old story: friends start a Doctor Who podcast, podcast ends, friends have an audience, friends realise they’re all writers and actors, friends decided to create an audio series in order to work together more. A tale as old as time!

Why did you get involved?

I love audio comedy. I listened to The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy quite early on and my Poppa introduced me to The Goon Show. I had a Walkman and listened to spoken word and comedy stuff as much as music! Also I missed acting a lot. I started out as an actor and transitioned into comedy and apart from some sketch shows haven’t done nearly as much as I’d like. Much of the work I have done is in voiceover, but since until recently there’s been so little audio drama produced in Australia, that was mostly narration.

What do you love about the show?

I love that we’ve managed to make our own version of the Doctor Who formula – the characters can go anywhere in space and time, and indeed they do! Plus like early Doctor Who they’re not in charge of their travels, only what they do once they arrive. I love the openness of the premise and how well it works in audio, since we can afford lavish sets and special effects (all entirely thanks to David Ashton). Plus while it’s a comedy we try to make it about things and have plots that go somewhere and make sense.

What’s your favourite line/quote from NT?

This is an unfair question to ask a writer of the show, so instead I will pick my current favourite nerdiest exchange, from the live special “Situational Awareness”:

“Is Heisenberg the one who put the cat in the box?

“No, that was Schrodinger. And also wasn’t Schrodinger. Long story.”

What’s the best feedback you’ve had about the series?

Look, I can’t lie: hearing Neil Gaiman say he thinks it has heart and ideas was a big deal. Like a lot of us making this show, he’s been a big influence on me and I’m a big fan. But I haven’t made much else that lasts – most of my work is live performance and much of it improvised or a one-off. To have people I don’t even know listening? Or people who believe in what we do enough to fund it with their own cash, and make it happen? That’s huge and wonderful. There are also some specific bits of feedback from listeners and supporters that have meant a lot, but I don’t think I could single one out. They know who they are, I hope.

What key skill would you bring if you ended up travelling in time and space with the crew?

I’m kind of a geek of all trades, or as a friend once said, a nerd for all seasons. I certainly don’t know the most about anything, but I know a bit about lots of things. I’d like to think that makes me adaptable and useful in a lot of places and times! Also I love to research things so that might prove helpful too.

Would you like to travel in time and space with Anastasia, Eddie and Sue?

Um…yes! Of course! It wouldn’t be weird at all for Eddie and I to be in the same room at the same time! And sure it’s random, but dinosaurs were around for ages, so the chance of seeing a Stegosaurus would totally be worth it.

Really?

…no. Not really. I mean, the adventure is great, but the never going home part is a sticking point. And Eddie seems oddly okay with it, except for a few times. What’s up with that? I would miss so many people…

Would you like to be part of the next season of Night Terrace? Zip over to Kickstarter to listen to the very first episode, and pick your pledge level!

Q&As from the Scar Tissue Launch

Narrelle M Harris Q&A

I recently held an online launch for my collection Scar Tissue and Other Stories. Part of the launch involved me answering questions, so I thought I’d share that Q&A here for anyone who missed it!

George asked: Will there be a third book for Gary and Lissa?

Yes there will! Once I’ve finished editing my latest Duo Ex Machina novella (which is being serialised on my Patreon) I’ll be writing the third book in the Vampires of Melbourne series!

Question as an image

The working title is “Beyond Redemption” and when it’s done, Clan Destine Press will be re-releasing The Opposite of Life (which is out of print, but I have the rights back for it now) and Walking Shadows with a matching set of covers!

Scar Tissue contains a story set after the end of Walking Shadows: “Bad Night at Bite Club”.

Margaret asked: Will there be more adventures in Australia for Holmes and Watson?

The Holmes and Watson from The Adventure of the Colonial Boy appear in the Scar Tissue story “The Beekeeper’s Children”. I would like to write a short story collection for them, but as a project that is at the back of the queue for now.

I am considering writing a modern Australian alternative universe series for them in my Patreon when the Duo Ex Machina novellas are finished next year, riffing off my short story from The Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot where are a pair of Aussie hipsters running, solving mysteries while they run a cafe called The Sign of Four. Does that count?

Sally F asked me if I ever put people I dislike into my books and then killed them off. 🙂

I never put people I dislike into my books. If I don’t like them, I don’t want to spend more time with them in my head if I can avoid it!

Instead, I put people I like into my books – sometimes just as a set of background characters, sometimes in minor roles, sometimes in more prominent roles. I do sometimes kill them off too, but usually I give them warning and make sure they’re okay with it.

My out of print Witch Honour and Witch Faith books have lead characters inspired by two close friends. (Sylvia and Leenan become their own people, but they have real people roots!)

A friend I worked with at World Vision was a dead body in The Opposite of Life. (She gave Enthusiastic Consent for that :D) Gary the Vampire is kind of based on every nice geekboy I’ve ever known.

Other people have been in the background (walking their dog on the beach; laughing together at a far table in a cafe; that sort of thing).

Maybe I should make it a Patreon Reward – to become a character in a story I’m writing.

Sally F also asked “Do you think you are on ASIO’s watch list from researching anything odd for your stories?”

My running joke is that ASIO keeps two lists: one of dodgy individuals with criminal leanings and writers. When they get a ping about someone researching murder, how to hide the bodies, explosives, detailed building layouts and schematics for aeroplanes and trains, they first check to see if the Googler is on the Author list (and maybe bookmark to see what novel results a year down the track).

I’ll be very disappointed if I’m not on the ASIO Writers to Watch For list purely on the strength of my research for crimes for Sherlock Holmes stories.

You know who is stalking me though? Google ads. And some of the ads that come up for me on the strength of writing some of my stories is HILARIOUS.

KRin asked “Has a story idea ever stopped you in your tracks and you had to write it down then and there?

The answer is “all the bloody time”. My phone is full of ideas and bits of prose and dialogue I’ve emailed to myself, and I always carry a notebook (or three) into which I scribble down ideas.

Because of course the time when I am most likely to come up with an interesting new concept or resolve a plot problem or think of some really sparky dialogue is when I’m walking or in the shower or in bed, rather than in front of the computer. So I leap up, scribble things down and hope it’s still legible when I got to type it up.

Robin asked “How do you dream up your characters?”

My characters come from a variety of sources, but a lot just seem to manifest themselves. I’m sure they spring from somewhere that I just haven’t worked out how to articulate.

Some of course are inspired by fictional characters, and very directly too – my versions of Holmes and Watson are obviously derived from Arthur Conan Doyle and have elements of the Granada Holmes & Watson too – but I’m often writing romances with them, so I try to work from the source material that I then extrapolate from to create the Victorian-era men in love, or the modern-era versions.

A few are inspired by people I know personally, though there it’s more that I might be inspired by a facet or two, rather than inserting them wholesale (see my answer to Sally’s question about putting people I know into my books.)

Some are inspired by other fictional characters I’ve liked (me and Lois McMaster Bujold both cherry picked some personalities from Blake’s 7).

Often, however, the concept that I want to explore in a story readily suggests the personality type that will be involved to help tell it, and the other kinds of characters they need around them to create balance, conflict and drama. The characters evolve within that context, so I may begin with particular “types” but then they grow.

When I was writing Kitty and Cadaver, I initially plotted about half of it then only sketched out the rest. I had to write the first half before completing the plotting – because I had to get to know everyone better before I knew how they’d respond to all their troubles. Once I knew who they were, it was easy to plot the rest of the book with each of them behaving in character.

KRin asked “What is your favourite colour?”

…which should be an easy one but it turns out, no. I will not make this easy.

I suppose the short answer might be ‘red’ but I like it in combination with black. and jade green. But I love that brilliant peacock blue too. Also rich purples.

I’m not a huge fan of yellows and oranges in my clothing because they make me look jaundiced, but a glorious buttercup yellow or bright burnt orange? Gorgeous.

I should have gone with the answer Janet MacLeod once gave: “My favourite colour is shiny!”

Robert asked “What’s your favourite story in the collection? Why?”

This could be like the ‘what’s your favourite colour’ question, or possibly make me howl DON’T MAKE ME CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE.

I mean, I loved getting back to Gary the vampire for “Bad Night at Bite Club”, and it’s primed me for getting to work on the 3rd of the Vampires of Melbourne series. It made me happy to write Ravenfall‘s James and Gabriel again in “Shadow at my Shoulder” – I’d really like to write another novel with them some time.

I think of the long stories, maybe “The Beekeeper’s Children” is my favourite – Holmes and Watson (from The Adventure of the Colonial Boy) in a loving relationship, in retirement in Sussex – but Sherlock is off in danger, John is caring for the bees (and reading the oblique love notes Sherlock has left for him) and also caring for two young men who are negotiating love as well as trauma.

Of the super short stories I have a soft spot for “Long Live the King” because I feel Richard III has been given a rough deal by history, but my favourite is “Plot Bunny” because of the juxtaposition between the sweet little toy bunny and its murderous intent.

But otherwise, don’t make me choose – they are all my favourite.


Scar Tissue and Other Stories is available in paperback and ebook directly from the publisher, Clan Destine Press, as well as the usual online sellers: Amazon, Kobo, Booktopia etc.