Dr Who and Me

I think every generation has its favourite Doctor, for me it was Tom Baker. The floppy hair, the wild eyes and the huge smile all made him different and exciting. I even knitted myself the scarf, all nineteen feet of it. No sooner was it finished than my kid brother nicked it and refused to give it back. He wore it for years and still has it, packed away from the moth to be an heirloom for his son. (And he says I’m the insane one  in the family).

Back to Dr Who. If you read my blog post “The Black Bat of Night”, you will know that I was a winner in a short story competition run by SFX magazine. It was while I was still wandering around on cloud nine and telling complete strangers all about it, I got an email from a publisher called Big Finish, they published a series of anthologies of Dr Who stories. They had seen “Maud: A Garden Tale” (now included in my new book “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales“) and…


Would I?

What do you think?

In case you’re thinking this is fan fiction, you couldn’t be more wrong. To begin with there are copyright issues, you can’t legally publish anything using the Dr Who characters or the TARDIS without permission. Secondly there are rules, very strict rules about how you portray The Doctor and stricter ones about the sort of situations you can put him in and the relationships he has with his assistants.

It was also hard work, much harder than I thought it would be, because no matter how well you think you know a character, you didn’t create him and getting your head around how they think and react is tough.

I did a pitch, which they liked, with amendments and then I started to write. And stopped and bought half a dozen old Dr Who DVD’s, watched them and began again. It had been a while since I had seen any Dr Who and I was surprised how just how much I had forgotten.

For various reasons, the story also had to be set in New Zealand and as I’ve never been nearer to New Zealand than Cornwall, so I also bought several guide books. It looks really beautiful and maybe one day I will be able to go there and see for myself.

And as this was also a Christmas Collection, it had to have a seasonal feel, so I decided turkeys were needed and did a bit of research on them as well. Not very bright your average turkey, possibly what they had in mind when they came up with “bird brained”.

As you can see, 5,000 words can required a lot of work.

Any way, after some editing and a couple of very sensible changes suggested by the editor,  “Autaia Pipipi Pia” came out in the 2008 collection “Dr Who. Short Trips: Christmas Around the World.” I’m not going to tell you what that means, but I will say it’s Maori, or at least my idea of Maori.

Have a look in “Books” section here and you will see the glorious cover designed by Grant Kempster.

I thought that was going to be the end of this adventure, but there was one last treat to go. Tom Baker was a guest at Comic Con in 2009 and unknown to me, my kids went and took my copy of the anthology with them and Tom Baker was kind enough to sign it for me.

So that is the story of how I got to write a Dr Who story and see it in print. I still get a buzz when I catch a glimpse of the book on my shelf.