DEBRIEF | Iris and the Dame (Clockwork Iris)




Iris and the Dame: The No.22 fetches up on a strange world in which machines are people, people are machines, and a weird mechanical carnival wants to get its hands on Iris Wildthyme.

Publication date: March 2017

Completion date: April 2015

Number of times subbed: n/a

Placing the story: This story was written by invite to Obverse Books’ anthology of steampunk Iris Wildthyme stories. It’s nice being invited to things; much less stressful than submissions. (Except the pressure to live up to being asked, of course.)

The story of the story: The Brenda and Effie novels were a gateway drug, through which I discovered Paul Magrs’ Doctor Who spin-off character, Iris Wildthyme, transtemporal adventuress (played memorably by Katy Manning in the Big Finish audio series.) She’s a sort of northern bag lady version of the Doctor, invariably half way to the bottom of a gin bottle, and accompanied by a deeply sarcastic stuffed panda (who, in this steampunk version, is made of brass and wood.) The Obverse releases don’t have the Doctor Who rights of course, so sssh, this Iris doesn’t know anything about TARDISes (TARDI?)

Steampunk is, these days, pretty much my stock-in-trade, so the idea of steampunk Iris… well! I happened upon the idea of an inverted world in which flesh was machine and machine was flesh. I arose from the image of Iris riding a enormous dragon resembling a London bus and spun off from there. There were a whole series of ideas before I eventually settled on the carnival concept that is the latter half of the story, and even then the ending went through four complete rewrites – the most heavy-duty alteration I’ve ever done on a story, I think – before I settled on the final choice.

But my god Iris Wildthyme was fun to write. It came to me rather too naturally. I started with what would happen if Jackie from Benidorm was cast as the Doctor, and just carried on from there.

Find the book here at Obverse Books.

I’ve shamelessly stolen the following blog format from the excellent B.R. Sanders, who’s been posting these about their own short fiction. (Seriously, I’ve even stolen the title.) Partly this serves as a shameless announcement (Hey you! Go read my story!), partly a record of my writing along side the record of reading that this blog exists as. But I also think that writers don’t always talk about the industry as much as they should, and I find it fascinating to read about when other writers so perhaps someone will enjoy it in return. (It sure helps when you receive your 27th rejection note to be able to read of other stories that have met the same fate.)


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