Saturday, August 05, 2006

FINDING THE LOST

Having originally submitted ideas for a Big Finish Audio CD in 2003, I was first contacted by Ian Farrington in the fall of 2004. While passing on the audio CD ideas, he wondered if I'd be willing to participate in a short story anthology. I said 'Yes!' and... Five months later Ian wrote back and told me some of the broad strokes of 'The Centenarian' concept.

Now, I actually have a long history of writing little known Doctor Who stories. In the mid-1980's I decided to go from narrative to script format and at that time there was only one successful Sci-Fi show actively in production: 'Doctor Who.' Having grown up with the Jon Pertwee incarnation, I felt this was something I could do, especially after the casting of Colin Baker in the leading role as another somewhat abrupt and self-important Doctor. So, after trading a couple telegrams with John Nathan-Turner, I was able to set up a meeting with him during his next visit to America and we spoke about the opportunities of an American writing for Doctor Who. He was open to this and gave me the address to send my story ideas. I sent off several of my best and...! Doctor Who was placed on hiatus. When the show came back at half its size, it was clear that any chance for an American writer to get into the show was now next to nil even before I received the follow-up 'Thanks, but...' letter from Eric Saward.

With a bundle full of Doctor Who story ideas and no outlet, I wasn't sure what I was going to do next. Then the strangest thing happened. The Doctor Who Information Society 'DWIS' was formed by someone I know and it was felt I could take my ideas and write them as narrative stories to help fill-out their newsletter. While I now look back at some of those resulting stories and cringe, I also find that they helped me to hone my writing skills and left me primed for the chance to write for 'The Centenarian' these many years later. Except for a brief aside in the DWIS Doctor Who comic serial opus 'Retirement?', I had never truly written a Doctor Who story set on Earth in the 20th century. So this was a chance to do something new!

What caused America's swift rise from an ineffectual space program of the 1950's to a quickly progressing space program of the 1960's? Sure, some might say competition from the Soviet Union, but what if there was something else? Someone helping the American space program leap forward far quicker than it otherwise would have? Say an alien who crash landed on Earth and was fueling the space race simply to have Earth reach the point where he could have a space craft developed to get him home? As this might take decades, if not centuries to accomplish, we have the Americans helping the alien to extend his life by draining the youth of a small percentage of Peace Corps work volunteers. And not only would this help to extend his life, but also leave a growing number of aged homeless people littering the streets of America. Edward Grainger would come across this little plot and with the help of the Doctor, they would put an end to it, thus explaining why the American space program suddenly lost its momentum by the early 1970's.

While I was fond of this premise, I immediately realized that I had come up with another 4-part, 25,000 word story that would fit well into the old DWIS Newsletter, but not in a short story anthology. So I pared the story down into what I felt would fit into a single 1/2 hour episode of classic Doctor Who. Out went NASA, the Peace Corps, and instead of Edward Grainger being in search of hundreds of missing people, it was now just one. To make it personal, I made this one his niece as the fates of Edward's own children had already been mapped out.

Ian liked most of the elements of my pared down story idea, save for one little bit. The plot of an alien draining the youth of unsuspecting people. Passing alternative ideas back and forth, we finally came up with a plot Ian felt would work for 'The Centenarian'.

As mentioned in previous blog entries, we (the writers) shared our story drafts with each other and benefited from our mutual feedback. I was doubly blessed when some of the minor characters in my story were adopted and woven into others' stories and vice versa. I think this is one of the things that makes 'The Centenarian' come together and really sing. This isn't just a series of short stories where Edward Grainger makes a guest appearance, but a tapestry of Edward's experiences and some of the people who wove in and out of his personal and professional life as well.

I hope you find 'The Lost' as enjoyable as the rest of the book. You might find how much it has evolved from the original concept as surprising as I have!

-- LJ Scott

1 Comments:

Blogger LJ Scott said...

Oh! It looks like I've just seen it for the first time and I'm very surprised...

5:16 pm  

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