I've been toying with the idea of a new ending to Who Killed Kennedy for years. The final chapters of the novel have never sat well with me, but were the best I could write at the time. Tying the history of Doctor Who into the JFK assassination was what had secured me a commission from Virgin in the first place, so my ending had to satisfy that expectation.
But the published version felt flat and emotionally unsatisfying. It niggled me for years afterward. Long after the paperback went out of print, the idea arose of making the book available for free on the NZDWFC site, along with an author's commentary. Editor Paul Scoones knew I had never loved my original ending, and asked if I interested in writing a new one?
I was sorely tempted, but other commitments would have meant a rushed job, so I eventually said no. Besides, there was another problem - I still hadn't figured out a better ending. You can see me grappling with potential solutions in a previous commentary note called Some final thoughts. If I was going to change WKK, it needed to be for the better - otherwise, why bother?
The lightning bolt of inspiration struck a few months ago, fuelled by working part-time as a lecturer on a Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. Spending three days a week talking about story purpose, theme and structure enabled my subconscious to finally figure out why WKK's ending never quite worked for me.
None the less, I knew there was more than a little hubris to be had from going back to fix problems with the original version of your creations. George Lucas didn't win that many friends with his Star Wars special editions, and I certainly didn't want to be responsible for my own Lee Harvey Oswald shot first debacle...
So the brief Introduction at the start of this 20th anniversary edition acknowledges the pitfalls of 'fixing' a novel that has consistently ranked among the Top 60 Doctor Who novels of all time. It also sets up a conundrum that gets resolved by the new conclusion. At least, I hope it does. I don't fancy another attempt in 2036...