Writer's Commentary

April 1996

First of all, spoilers ahoy! Please don't read this section of commentary if you haven't already finished the 20th Anniversary Edition. I'm happy to wait until you get back...

Everybody caught up now? Good.

Having always found my ending emotionally unsatisfying, I knew I needed a solution that could fill that void. The breakthrough moment for this new edition was figuring out what was the heart of the original novel. Yes, the book is essentially an outsider's perspective on the UNIT years, a conspiracy thriller that offers a fresh angle on Doctor Who stories first broadcast in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

But for me the centre of the book is James Stevens himself - a journalist searching for a great story, for the meaning hidden behind events. In doing so, he sacrifices his chances at find personal happiness. His first marriage was built on sand and malice, so could never have lasted. But with Dorothea Chaplet - Dodo - he had a chance for love.

That was stolen away when the Master's puppet, Private Francis Cleary from UNIT, shot Dodo dead - while she was carrying Steven's unborn child! That moment of particular brutality in WKK became notorious, a rare case of a former companion being killed off in prose. The original novel used that shocking murder to propel it into the final chapters.

But what if Dodo survived? What if Stevens figured out a way to go back in time and - instead of killing JFK in Dallas, 1963 - prevented Dodo's murder? Could there finally be a happy ending for the star-crossed pair? I believed it would give WKK the emotionally satisfying resolution it had lacked all these years. But could I pull it off?

I floated my potential solution past Paul Scoones, to see if it made sense to anyone else. He had questions, but seemed to think it might work. My next step was re-reading WKK, to relive everything that happens in the novel and remind myself of the original writing style. Twenty years on, I didn't want the new chapters to stick out like a sore thumb.

Re-reading the novel for the first time in nearly a decade, I was pleasantly surprised to find it help up pretty well. I also discovered a few moments and phrases included in the original that became key to resolving the plot conundrum I had left myself. The phone conversation between Stevens and the third Doctor in Chapter 22 was crucial, giving the journalist an argument he could use to seek help from the Doctor years later. Chapter 22 also supplied the Doctor's phone number, enabling Stevens to find the elusive stranger.

Having decided Stevens would enlist the Doctor's help, I had to pick which incarnation would get the phone call. It's a bit cheeky, but I couldn't resist the chance to write for Peter Capaldi's Doctor - his frequent brusqueness meant Stevens wouldn't have an easy job in convincing that Doctor to help. Plus it was fun to add an allusion to Missy!

The seventh Doctor makes an unheralded cameo in Chapter 21, comforting Stevens on a park bench overlooking the sea after Dodo's funeral. Aside from a brief encounter at Auderly House, it was one of the rare occasions when Stevens and the Doctor met in the novel. It seemed the perfect location for them to meet again in the new chapters, especially bearing in mind where Stevens was headed.

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