The first time I novelized City of Death I was 12 years old. It was reliant largely on my memory of the recent television repeat. I typed it up on a hefty old Imperial typewriter and sent it to Target Books. Their rejection letter ran something along the lines of “You obviously know nothing about the copyright problems surrounding this particular Doctor Who story and we also have strong suspicions that you may only be 12 years old and not a proper writer!”
My third rewrite was submitted to TSV in 1990. The version that was published in 1992 differed considerably from the submitted manuscript for several reasons, chiefly that Paul Scoones and I had at the time very different agendas. Paul's was that TSV Books should produce accurate representations of the television stories - back then the prospect of most of the series becoming available on commercial video was not a strong one - whereas mine was to write the kind of novelisation I thought Douglas Adams would have delivered had he ever deemed to do City of Death himself. To this end there were numerous digressions from the plot and sections consisting of the kind of flogging-a-dead-horse humour that permeates The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy. All of these sections were omitted from the published book.
When last year Paul offered me the opportunity to revise the book before its reprint, the obvious thought for both of us was to reinstate some of the cut material. Upon re-reading the 1990 manuscript I decided that, while I'm still fond of it, it's not really the way I write anymore and the articles I wrote on Virgin's New Adventures series (TSV 62-64) made me consider other possibilities - so rather than a revision, this is essentially a totally new novelisation. People familiar with those New Adventures articles will doubtless be amused by how many of my own bugbears I'm guilty of, just as people familiar with the 1990 manuscript may lament my decision not to run with it this time around (although I did reinstate one scene - see if you can guess which one it is!). I quite liked the idea of printing it in reduced facsimile form at the back of the book in the way that the Arden 3 editions of Shakespeare's plays reproduce corrupt Quarto texts in their appendices... but as work commitments and a hard-drive crash delayed the revisions to City of Death further and further, the challenge became just finding the time to actually get it done as opposed to being ground-breaking and revolutionary with the finished product.
The bulk of this version was completed during time out from rehearsals for my February/March 2002 production of Hamlet in Wellington, which may explain the numerous Shakespearean allusions. I'd like to thank Paul for his extreme patience in light of my Douglas Adams-like approach to deadlines and for his guidance and support over the years. Jon Preddle supplied a vast amount of reference material last time around and I should also thank those present when we lunched just after Christmas 2001, an afternoon that went a long way towards providing ideas and enthusiasm for what could well be my final attempt at getting City of Death on paper.
“Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man As e'er my conversation coped withal”
for David Ronayne