The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Cabin Essence


Another blog to plug a new thing by me that has just been released; the third series of Big Finish’s audio drama Survivors (based upon and paralleling to the 1970s TV series) begins with an episode I’ve written called Cabin Fever. The title was one of those fortunate occurrences where, after you’ve written the synopsis, you suddenly come up with a title which fits it so beautifully that people would think you’d had the idea for the title first. 

What it’s about, in brief, is the first few days of the outbreak. I think with these sorts of shows – Day of the Triffids, 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead – the beginning of the outbreak when the panic escalates and civilisation breaks down is often the most interesting and dramatic bit, but also tends to get skipped over because it’s also the toughest bit to write. I think Terry Nation did an excellent job with the first episode of Survivors and I was delighted that Matt Fitton did an equally excellent job with the opening episode of the Big Finish audio series. There’s so much potential to explore there, how the outbreak of a black-death-style plague would impact on various locations, communities and so on. How would affect people in a prison? Or on an oil rig? Or an isolated village, where they would know there was a chance they could save themselves by imposing a quarantine.

And with Cabin Fever, the idea is, what about the people who were on a cross-channel ferry at the time of the outbreak? Stuck in international waters, refused access to any ports, with food and water running out, cut off from the outside world, not sure if there even is anyone with the disease on board... so if someone gets sick, what do you do with them? And with that idea, I put myself into Terry Nation mode and wrote it as he would’ve written it, as straightforwardly and truthfully as possible. No frills, no fancy stuff.

The other thing is that the inspiration for this story came from real life. Not the bit about a plague wiping out ninety-nine percent of the Earth, which has never happened to me personally, but the stuff about being stuck on a passenger ferry for hours on end during stormy weather. It was on an exchange trip, folk from Milverton visiting the stunning village of Longny-au-Perche, on the way out I think. I can still remember that trip; the heaving, rolling corridors, the waves bursting over the prow of the boat (it was like the storm in David Copperfield  to save me describing it) and the smells... the oily stink of the engines as you got lower in the boat, and the overpowering reek of the passenger lounge, where it smelt like every person in there had thrown up (because they had).

And I discovered that, while I get travel sick in cars and buses, I don’t get seasick at all. Didn’t even feel nauseous. Lucky, that.

Anyway, Survivors series three, including Cabin Fever by me, is out now. Buy it here!

What people have said on twitter:

"Survivors series 3 off to the bleakest of starts... chills down the spine stuff."

"Brilliant & frightening."

"Easily the best and most immediately relevant of the 12 Survivors installments to date" according to this review.

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