I submitted my proposal for Kursaal to BBC Books in August 1996. Commissioning editor Nuala Buffini wrote back to me in late September to say that she liked it—but had some reservations about the way the story “split” in the middle.
I e-mailed her in early October with suggestions about how this could be addressed in a number of ways. She subsequently sent this on to her successor, Steve Cole—who wasn’t so worried about the split in the middle.
Here’s the text of my e-mail to Nuala, so you can see how I might have revised Kursaal had the need arisen.
DATE: 10-02-96 TIME: 23:51
SUBJECT: Re: Kursaal: DW novel proposal
Thank you for your encouraging letter and kind words about my proposal, “Kursaal” I understand your reservations about the split between Part One and Part Two. Originally, I wrote it as one long narrative, but then decided to emphasise that it had two parts. The first is darker, more exploratory, with the gloomy and somber building site setting the tone for scenes and characterization. The second part is brighter, faster-paced, more action-oriented—which reflects the theme park setting and the (literal) race towards the climactic scene.
I had hoped to use the time gap to counterpoint the changes between the two eras: the aspirations of the first are not fully realized in the second (despite its brash appearance). Kadijk and HALF are thrown together in ways they could not have anticipated. And, ironically, the one character who should not have changed (she is the same age in both) is Amy, yet she is revealed to have changed the most—and changed literally. Only the Doctor, a catalyst for much of what happens, seems unaffected.
The scene intended to bring this out was the part 2 confrontation between Kadijk and the Doctor. This is not the stand-off and resolution that the reader expects, but the revelation that Amy was the villain al aong and the start of the narrative gallop to the finale.
On the assumption that can’t persuade you, however, here are a couple of options for playing down (mabe removing) the distincion between the two parts. I may have some further thoughts over the weekend, but do you have a preference so far?
1. Remove the Time Travel
Saturnia Regna is supposed to be a big lace, s we could have half of it completed and open for business while the other half is being built and looking like a building site.
(a) Just link the two parts.
The Doctor and Amy go off to see the theme park after the confrontation with Gray. We’d need to have two jax sites: the first is where Amy’s expedition was first attacked (and Gray infected), and the second is the Jax Palace in the theme park.
(b) Interweave scenes in the building site and the completed theme park.
Start with the Doctor in the theme park, and involved in an accident at the Jax ride (where Gray has become infected). The medical facilities are on the moon, so the Doctor accompanies Gray there. Here he meets up with Amy (caught in the crossfire which killed the media crew who were filming the building work on the other side of the planet). This gets the Doctor and Amy back to the building site, and much of the first part of the book. HALF’s hideout is in the theme park, so there’s a link throughout the book between the key scenes of old-part-one and those of old-part-two.
After the Amy/Gray confrontation of old-part-one, she is hospitalized (shock? Apparently-minor injuries?). The Doctor thinks Kadijk still wants to imprison him, and flees the scene—trying to get back to his Tardis in the theme park. Kadijk has discovered that Amy is infected, and that she’s escaped from the moon-hospital, so he pursues the Doctor to get to him before she does. And so into old-part-two.
GOOD POINTS: combines the two parts, and retains some of the build-up. Avoids using the tardis (it need never actually appear in the book). No substantial new characters and subplots. Starts and ends in the same location and time period.
DISADVANTAGES: not clear about the link between Amy and the Doctor in new-second-part (why does she need to tag along with the Doctor? Why does Kadijk need to chase him?). Not enough time for the drones to build to a substantial number for the final confrontation? How does the excavation bomb get into the Jax Palace? (using the Jax equipment to destroy the Palace might be a bit deus ex machina.) And there could be quite a lot of implausible planet-hopping between the finished and unfinished sections.
2. Make the two parts still more distinct, and split them completely into two novels with different authors.
Each novel would need further subplots: the first could take ray’s financial finagling further, and extend the “murder mystery” elements. He second could play up the drug cartel aspects, with the fight between rival gangs obstructing the pursuit of the Jax drones.
GOOD POINTS: two novels which stand alone, but which can be read together with benefit. Several TV stories do this without becoming a complex Continuity Fest like, say, “The Five Doctors”. You could have the seventh Doctor (a darker characterization) meet Amy in the first novel, and leaving the planet with her. Then the eighth Doctor could collect her from wherever his predecessor left her (Amy “persuades” him to return her to Kursaal).
Or you could introduce Amy as an eighth-Doctor companion for several novels (he seems to like bright professional women), and then kill her off (shock horror) in the second werewolf novel. The TV series did something similar in the fifth Doctor stories “Kinda” and “Snakedance”, but didn’t kill off the companion, tegan.
DISADVANTAGES: a much more substantial rewrite. You’ve said you’re not keen on linked novels.
Well, those are just a handful of thoughts off the top of my head this afternoon. If you have a preference, or other thoughts/suggestions, do please drop me an e-mail. I’ll revise the proposal (in whatever form) next week.
Thanks again for your interest. I understand that recently you’ve taken charge of other BBC-DW releases, such as videos—so good luck with that, too.
© Peter Anghelides 1996, 1998, 2009