DOCTOR WHO: THE DIMENSION RIDERS (1993, Virgin)
Alias: The First One.
My first Doctor Who novel for Virgin Books, written when I was just 23 years old. There’s much I would change now, but basically I am still proud of it – who wouldn’t be, of their first ever published novel? It had some excellent reviews at the time: Craig Hinton in Marvel's Doctor Who Magazine wrote an especially glowing one and Helen Stirling in Dreamwatch gave it 8/10. Since then, it’s waned in fan opinion, but I can be proud of the fact that I was one of the first (mine was book 20) and that I have had some really nice comments about it.
The online Discontinuity Guide says: ‘Literate, gripping, and extremely well-written, The Dimension Riders is a fairly traditional Doctor Who story with an adult approach that makes it feel like a quintessential New Adventure. The characterisation is superb, and as a result the many deaths all carry weight, making this at times a highly effective horror story.’
Link to the site: Discontinuity Guide.
Best thing: I think it’s still fresh and pacy, a traditional Doctor Who story which could have been done on screen.
Worst thing: reads a little naïvely. And the typos are dreadful – not my fault!
Trivia: Main villain the Garvond narrowly escaped being called the Garamond. Luckily someone pointed out to me that a typeface doesn’t sound especially menacing. (Okay, maybe Haas Helvetica is a little bit scary.)
DOCTOR WHO: INFINITE REQUIEM (1995, Virgin)
Alias: The One That Came Bottom Of the Fans' Poll That Year (But So Did The Deadly Assassin in 1977, so nyeeeer).
Okay, so the title sounds a bit too much like a prog-rock album and the concepts are a little over-inflated, but I still think the basic story is very sound and interesting. I also still like a lot of the characters. I got to write the first novel after long-time companion Ace left, too, so it was like the start of a new era for the books. Four stars out of five from Doctor Who Magazine, 7/10 from Dreamwatch.
Best thing: the diverse elements all come together well.
Worst thing: it could be a bit less wordy and more pacy.
Trivia: I wrote it in Rachel’s attic when I was was temporarily between residences…
Reviews: Link to be added.
DOCTOR WHO: DECALOG 2 ‘Lonely Days’ (1996, Virgin)
I somehow stumbled into this anthology, the second volume of original Doctor Who stories published by Virgin. Each story was meant to feature one of the Doctor’s many homes, but Doctor Who writers being what they are, everyone took a fairly liberal interpretation of the brief.
My story, ‘Lonely Days’, gave me my first (and only) opportunity to write for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, and to explore a then-neglected aspect of Nyssa’s character, namely the fact that she is the last surviving member of her race. And I’d like to say it was named after the rather splendid song by Future Bible Heroes - but sadly, without the aid of a TARDIS, that would have been impossible...
Reviews: Link to be added.
When it comes to books, Doctor Who fans are usually either a) resolutely conservative or b) so outlandishly radical that they want to read something so different from the Doc’s usual adventures that it might as well be called something else entirely. Some might say that certain writers used the banner to smuggle in their otherwise unpublishable original sci-fi novels with the Doctor Who serial numbers added... I couldn’t possibly comment.
For my own part, I did my best to reproduce the feel of the TV show on a broader canvas, which I always thought was the point of these novels. They were my springboard, and I will always be grateful to Peter Darvill-Evans and Rebecca Levene at Virgin Books for giving me that chance.