Winner! Best Eighth Doctor novel in the annual Doctor Who Magazine reader’s poll.
First published by BBC Worldwide in November 1999, ISBN: 0-563-55589-0
After writing Kursaal, I kept in contact with the other writers of the BBC Eighth Doctor range via e-mail. We would discuss forthcoming books, offer support and advice to each other, and encourage better continuity and continuing development of the series – especially the characters of the Doctor and his companions.
BBC Books editor Steve Cole let us in on a big secret—the idea of a story arc kicked off by Lawrence Miles’ book Interference, and which would centre around a new companion introduced in that book, called Compassion. The rough outline of how Compassion would develop was established over an initial five-book plan, and authors were invited to pitch for the five available slots.
As part of these discussions, I provided a very candid assessment of why I thought Compassion would be extremely difficult to write for, and that as a character she introduced lots of problems for writers.
However, after some nagging from Steve (who also provided a somewhat pained defence of Compassion against some pushback from the writers), I rashly provided a proposal for the third book in the arc, and found I then had to write for the character!
Rather than ignore what I saw were problems (by sidelining her), I decided to give her a central role in my novel. And, by the end of it, I decided I quite liked her as a character after all. (I’m so fickle.)
You can see from draft 2 of my proposal to the BBC that I wanted readers to join the story mid-way through the action; so the Doctor and his companions have been there for a while before we join them. Have a look also at Chapter 2 to see some of this in the published version.
At the proposal stage, Steve and I judged that some of the stuff about Compassion was too obvious, and so I played that down a little. In the outline, the subplot of Reddenblak is not so much to the fore, and two characters from earlier books (Alien Bodies and The Taking of Planet Five) make a cameo appearance – which I subsequently removed from the finished book. Other stuff was introduced into the novel while I was writing it, as usual.
I was more involved in the design of the cover of this book than for any of my other published novels.
In-jokes: Fitz adopts the persona of Frank Sinatra, and all the chapter titles are songs that Sinatra sang. In the acknowledgements I name “Francis Albert” – which are Sinatra’s christian names. And “Frontier Worlds” was the name of a fan magazine I devised in 1979 with my friends Peter Lovelady and Tony Murray. They came up with the name of the fanzine—I had wanted, foolishly, to call it “Darkling Zone”—so Peter and Tony get an acknowledgement in the novel, too, for bringing me to my senses two decades previously.