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Coming soon: Bernice Summerfield - True Stories

Coming soon: Bernice Summerfield - True Stories

2 September 2017

Big Finish books are back. We interview the editor and one of the writers of the upcoming short story collections, Xanna Eve Chown for more details on Benny's Unbound adventures.

Big Finish (BF): Hey Xanna! Thanks for talking with us today. Benny in the Unbound universe is an exciting new chapter in Benny's life. What inspired you to continue Benny's adventures in the Unbound universe? Do the adventures tie-in with the latest Benny release, Ruler of the Universe? Or did the Doctor try and distract Benny with a whole new universe to explore?

Xanna: First of all, I talked to Jason (Haigh-Ellery, Executive Producer of Big Finish) about doing a short story anthology along the lines of the (sadly now discontinued) Doctor Who Short Trips anthologies. I loved working on those books because of the eclectic mix of storylines, themes etc. Then I had a chat with James Goss, who is in charge of Benny's audio adventures. He was keen for the stories to be continuity free and set in the Unbound Universe, between New Adventures boxsets 3 and 4 - so they could expand and support the audios. Then people can enjoy the character without needing to know anything about the last twenty or so years of back-story. So, I listened to the Unbound audios and I was hooked! They are so much fun. Benny has been given a spaceship and she's off on her own, exploring this new world, but still getting involved in all the things that she loves. Archaeology, holidays, helping people, getting in trouble, that kind of thing.

BF: How did you collect the writers together for this anthology?

Xanna: There were a couple of things I wanted to do. First was to have a mix of established and new writers just like we always did with the Doctor Who Short Trips books. Then, I wanted to aim for an even mix of male and female writers. So there are great contributions from newcomers Victoria Simpson and Tim Gambrell, linked stories by fan favourites Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum, along with their respective writing partners, Q and Rupert Booth, and something from Matthew Griffiths, who has written a few stories for the Short Trips range. Then, I wrote the final story and the linking material at the beginning and end, which give the book its overall shape.

BF: And what can we look forward to in this latest novel?

Xanna: Well, the title is 'True Stories', and we find out why in the first couple of pages, which are part of the transcript of a court session. Benny has been arrested on a planet called Bliss and she is on trial, but in order to calibrate the court computers, she has to tell three true stories, and three false ones. Would you like a sneak peek at the first few pages?

TRANSCRIPT OF COURT SESSION / BLISS CITY COUNCIL RECORDS / B116/22/TRIAL JUDGE: Judge computer online. Jury computer online?

JURY: Online.

JUDGE: Clerk computer online?

CLERK: Online.

JUDGE: Bernice Summerfield online?

DEFENDANT: I’m not a bloody computer.

JUDGE: Please state your status for the records.

DEFENDANT: Fine. I’m ‘online’.

JUDGE: Court is now in session. Professor Bernice Summerfield, you have been charged with three serious misdemeanours.

DEFENDANT: I’ve only been here a few hours.

JUDGE: One: breaking and entering.

DEFENDANT: I didn’t break it! The door was open!

JUDGE: Two: tampering with council property.

DEFENDANT: I just pressed one button...

JUDGE: Three: attempting to overthrow the government.

DEFENDANT: I’m sorry, what?

JUDGE: In accordance with the laws of Bliss, the Defendant will now calibrate the Jury.

DEFENDANT: Er... I’m new around here. When you said ‘trial by jury’, I thought you were going to wake up some actual people, not hook me up to a computer called ‘the Jury’. Can someone explain what I have to do?

JUDGE: The Defendant calibrates the Jury by telling six tales from their recent past: three true and three false. The Judge then asks the Defendant to choose from the following options: Guilty or Unguilty.

DEFENDANT: Unguilty! Definitely. That’s me.

JUDGE: The Jury will decide if you tell the truth.

DEFENDANT: So, then I can go?

JUDGE: If the Defendant states Unguilty and is telling the truth, the Defendant is free to go.

DEFENDANT: Great.

JUDGE: If the Defendant states Unguilty and is lying, the Defendant will face the consequences.

DEFENDANT: Okay...

JUDGE: If the Defendant states Guilty and is lying, the Defendant will face the consequences.

DEFENDANT: Right.

JUDGE: If the Defendant states Guilty and is telling the truth, the Defendant will face the consequences.

DEFENDANT: Got it.

JUDGE: Is the Defendant ready to calibrate the Jury?

DEFENDANT: Wait a second. I can tell you anything that happened to me?

JUDGE: Is the Defendant ready to calibrate the Jury?

DEFENDANT: The thing is, the things that happen to me tend to be pretty... odd. Did I explain I’m not really from this universe?

JUDGE: Is the Defendant ready to calibrate the Jury?

DEFENDANT: I really hate computers sometimes.

JUDGE: Is the Defendant ready to calibrate the Jury?

DEFENDANT: Oh, fine. Let’s get this over with. It’s a good job I like the sound of my own voice.

Xanna: So this sets the scene, then there are six stories, all written in the usual manner, you'll be pleased to know, not as transcripts! This is followed by a couple of pages at the end, where we get to see the closing moments of the trial at the end. It's a lot of fun! I adore Benny, and I've loved every minute of it. 

You can preorder this new Benny novel now. Bernice Summerfield: True Stories will be available in September as a hardback novel and ebook at £16.99 and £12.99, or as a digital audiobook at £9.99.

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