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Doctor Who

Doctor Who has been around since 1963, of course, but it wasn't until BBC Books launched their range of PDAs (Past Doctor Adventures) that I landed my first commission for a Doctor Who short story. Other Doctor Who commissions followed.
One Bad Apple
More Short Trips

Here on Earth or out in the depths of the cosmos, the Doctor and his companions are never far from adventure. More Short Trips — the cleverly-titled follow-up to the popular Short Trips volume of short stories — takes the time travellers on another careering course of exciting escapades throughout time and space.

Showcasing the talents of both established authors and first-time writers, More Short Trips features every TV Doctor and a whole host of companions — plus a few surprises...

Discover things on Earth you were never meant to know. Get around the universe. Get short tripping.

Edited by Stephen Cole, this collection features stories by Peter Anghelides, Ian Atkins, Christopher Bulis, Paul Farnsworth, Simon Forward, Paul Leonard, Jason Loborik, Steve Lyons, Paul Magrs, David A. McIntee, Andrew Miller, Robert Perry & Mike Tucker, Gareth Roberts, Gary Russell, Tara Samms and Dave Stone.


Notes:

It was shortly after one of my early Doctor Who novel submissions (alas, I can't recall the title) to BBC Books was rejected, that then editor Steve Cole contacted me to suggest I try my hand at a short story featuring Tom Baker's Doctor and Leela, based on the fact that he thought I'd characterised them so well in the novel submission's sample chapters. Hence, One Bad Apple was born, and was originally going to be read by Tom Baker himself on an audio release featuring all the Fourth Doctor stories from this collection. Sadly that fell through, but this little Doctor Who Garden of Eden tale remains my first contribution to the published world of Who and even explores a surprisingly (so far) unexplored aspect of Who mythology (the Cyberwars) in what I still hope is an original and imaginative way.
Drift
Drift

White. The perfect camouflage for ghosts.

White consumes the New Hampshire landscape, as troops move in on a survivalist cult following a spate of unnaturally severe blizzards. The Special Forces group, White Shadow, are searching for the missing fragments of a US Air Force jet, which crashed while engaged in top secret test flights over the region.

The Doctor and Leela have arrived at quite literally the wrong time. Thanksgiving is approaching. Traditionally it is a holiday all about home and family. This year all of that is lost.

Lost: like the local community, in the grip of something far more sinister than a harsh winter. Like young Amber Mailloux, victim of a broken home that won’t even settle in one place. Even White Shadow, entirely out of their depth and up against an enemy that not even the Doctor can find in this world of white.

An enemy which promises the bleakest of midwinters for the people of New Hampshire and, certainly before springtime, the end of life on Earth...

This novel features the Fourth Doctor and Leela.


Notes:

The idea for Drift originally came to me when I was sitting in the cinema, enduring the latter stages of a bout of food poisoning, watching the opening moments of Fargo. It was a struggle to get through the rest of that movie, but only because of how thoroughly grotty I was feeling! I did go back to see the film again when I was well, and enjoyed it more the second time round, but in any case Drift owes its existence only to that opening scene, with the shot of that car emerging out of a world of white. It cast me back to my travels in Siberia and a particular moment when I was standing on a mountain in Austria, literally unable to see anything, enclosed in a void of brilliant white. Magic - and a bit scary.

So what came of that was a ghost story, where white was the new darkness, originally submitted as a proposal for the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his companion, Liz Shaw - a personal favourite of mine from the show. It was editor, Justin Richards (Steve Cole's successor) who saw the potential in the story, but for one reason and another (including the excessive occurrence of the name of Shaw!) suggested I rewrite it as a Fourth Doctor novel, with either Leela or Sarah Jane as a companion. In the end, Leela won out, and gave me the opportunity to write this wonderful character's first experience of snow.

Along with a strong X Files influence that seemed to grow naturally as part of translating Doctor Who into an American setting, some of the aims in writing the book were, I confess, a product of some concern that this might turn out to be the only Doctor Who book I ever wrote. I wanted to bring the winter setting alive, invest it with all the atmosphere of the best Doctor Who stories and try to preserve the tradition of concealing the nature of the menace at least until "episode three". That, and to make sure the cast of characters were at least as much a part of the real world as they were of an sf adventure. (With a couple of key exceptions, who were part and parcel of the X Files influence!) Above all I wanted a very human story at its heart.

Ultimately, the best anyone has said about Drift is that it feels like a "real novel" and not "just a Doctor Who book". And, along with the feeling that goes hand in hand with the publication of your very first novel, it really doesn't get any better than that!
Sandman
Sandman

The Clutch is a fleet in constant motion, ships jostling for position, in an endless migration between the stars. For the Galyari, forbidden by an ancient curse from settling on a world ever again, the Clutch is home. But the curse travels with them!

The Sandman, a figure of myth and folk-lore, preys on the young and old alike. He lurks in the shadows and it is death to look upon him.

All too soon after the TARDIS arrives, it is evident that the Doctor and the Galyari share a dark history, and Evelyn is shocked to discover that, on the Clutch, it is her friend who is the monster. The Sandman, according to the tales, also goes by the name of the Doctor!

This story takes place between The Trial of a Time Lord and Time and the Rani.


Notes:

One of my goals as a writer was to explore a varied career, developing projects in different media, so when I heard about Big Finish Productions and their range of Doctor Who audio dramas - and now with Drift under my belt - I was prompted to write a polite inquiry about the possibility of submitting an idea or two their way. It was a matter of a month or so later that Gary Russell invited me to submit an outline for an instalment in their Doctor Who: Excelis series. Going under the title of Excelis Rising, I offered a Sixth Doctor story set in a Victorian-style city, where everyone lived in fear of a monster known as The Doctor.

Obviously, it didn't make it as an Excelis instalment, but Gary so liked the central idea that he asked me to rework it for some space-going setting, perhaps for a race of people who had forgotten what it was like to live on a planet. Having already developed the Galyari as an alien race, they sprang readily to mind for this project and The Sandman was born.

One of the key challenges, as well as having to adjust to this new discipline of writing for audio, was to write for the character of Evelyn Smythe (a companion developed by Gary Russell specifically for the Big Finish audios), but with repeated listenings of other audios featuring her and the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), and some guidance from Gary himself, I hopefully did her justice in the finished script. A script which necessarily places her in the unenviable position of being entirely out of her depth where the Doctor is concerned.

Alas, I missed out on the chance of attending the recording session, but the experience of hearing my own script brought to life by a tremendous cast and production crew was unforgettable. And an experience I very much wanted to repeat...
Constant Companion
Short Trips: Zodiac

Take a TARDIS trip through the constellations, as the Doctor travels to twelve thrilling tales inspired by the mystical zodiac.

Telepathic fish, miniature lions and twin planets are the least of his problems, as the Doctor ­— all eight of him —­ faces the Capricorn Killer, endures a mindswap with the Machiavellian Master, and dances with Death herself.

And that's not the half of it —­ as the two K9s can attest.

This collection features twelve exclusive short stories from well-known names in Doctor Who fiction —­ including acclaimed novelist and Booker nominee Paul Magrs, alongside Simon A. Forward, Mark Michalowski, Paul Leonard and Joseph Lidster —­ as well as fresh new voices.

Editor Jacqueline Rayner has written more than fifteen books and audio plays, as well as being Project Editor for BBC Books' range of Doctor Who fiction.


Notes:

Editor Jac Rayner was asking various authors to submit ideas for this, the first Short Trips volume scheduled to be published by Big Finish. Excited just to be asked (it doesn't take much!), I threw about five ideas in her direction and Constant Companion was the one that, I think, most piqued the editor's curiosity (thanks, Jac!). My contribution to this volume concerns one of the 'miniature lions' mentioned in the cover blurb, and essentially owes its existence to a (fairly) famous Canadian cartoon called The Cat Came Back. For those who aren't familiar with said cartoon, the story tells of how the TARDIS crew (here Pat Troughton's wonderful Second Doctor, with companions Zoe and Jamie) acquire a pet - and their subsequent attempts to get rid of it. Fun to write from start to finish, and I was told I had the Second Doctor's characterisation 'down pat' (if you'll forgive the pun), which tends to matter to me a good deal with these things.
Balloon Debate
Short Trips: Companions

Wanted: attractive young girl (boy may be considered). Must have strong ankles, healthy lungs, and no family ties. Ability to say 'what's that, Doctor?' in many different ways a necessity. Bizarre taste in clothes may be an advantage. Must be able to deal with traumatic situations involving life and death with no obvious after effects.

They didn't always ask to travel with the Doctor. And even if they did, they didn't know what the consequences would be.

Were Ian's travels foretold? What paradoxical conundrums faced the Doctor, Charley and Will Shakespeare in Ancient Troy? And just how difficult is it to get a job when you can't account for a gap of several years on your CV?

Notes:

As with Short Trips: Zodiac, I'd submitted a number of ideas for this volume - I think five again - but in the end it was Balloon Debate that won out. An idea inspired by all the polls run by fans on the various Doctor Who sites, with one ambitious aim: to feature all the 27 TV companions in one short story and establish who was the Doctor's favourite. Some folks didn't care for the ending but, after all, I was under some obligation, as always with these things, to square it away with established series continuity!
Shell Shock
Shell Shock

The Doctor is washed up - literally - on an alien beach with only intelligent crabs and a madman for company.

How can he possibly rescue Peri who was lost at sea the same time as he and the TARDIS? But Peri has problems of her own. "Rescued" from drowning by an intelligent sponge growth, she has been adopted by the life form as its own personal God.

As the denizens of the beach come under increasingly vicious attack, the Doctor must discover the truth in time to save all their lives.


Notes:

Shell Shock is a horror story, all about trauma. So I guess it was appropriate that the writing of it should have turned out to be such a battle. It all began when I thought I'd try my hand at submitting an idea to Telos, and I'd unearthed an old short story idea of mine (called Shell Shock, no less) that I thought, with a few modifications and additions - like the Doctor and a companion, for starters! - might be just the ticket. The original short story was, perhaps, 6000 words in length and was inspired by a couple of interesting articles I'd read - one concerning the US military's development of robotic crabs for mine clearance and the like; and another about how hermit crabs had been known to use man-made artefacts for shells, adapting to ocean floors littered with our debris. Editor David Howe appreciated the central concept and between us we began refining the synopsis to a stage where we were both happy with what had the makings of a really strong novella.

The initial writing was one of those revelatory experiences where the book was practically writing itself, and aspects of the Doctor (in this case, the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker) and more particularly his companion, Peri, emerged naturally as the story developed. Unfortunately, it was at this first draft stage that the editors took a divergent view on certain aspects of the story, like Peri's background, for example, which they felt might prove too controversial, and the size of the crab creatures, which they felt should be considerably larger than I had envisaged.

Undertaking that rewrite at short notice was something of a gruelling process and I'll confess there were points when I was in two minds whether I wanted to complete the book at all! (And all this at a time when I was busy writing my first Eighth Doctor novel for BBC Books, Emotional Chemistry!) Still, it eventually emerged as a testament to some strength and determination on my part (I like to think :) ), as I was able to overcome these difficulties and within the month provide the editors with the finished book that they wanted.

The end result is a novella of which I can be justly proud, although my relationship with the book at the time was ambiguous, tied as it was in my mind to the arduous process of that rewrite. Oh well, maybe an author's cut of the book will surface some day!

Note: Shell Shock, like all the Doctor Who Novellas, is now no longer available from Telos. Copies may still be available from other outlets, such as Amazon.
The Astronomer's Apprentice
Short Trips: Muses

Tell me, O Muse, of that many-aspected hero who fled his home world to travel every corner of time and space. Tell me, daughter of Jove, of his battles and his tragedies, of the strangers he encountered and the evil plots he foiled. Speak with laughter, with tears, through songs and visions of the Doctor, the hero and champion of this world and many more.

The nine Muses have since ancient times brought inspiration to those willing to receive it. Nine authors have received the inspiration of the Muses, to speak of the mysterious Time Lord known only as 'the Doctor'. They will tell tales of History, of Dancing, of Comedy and Tragedy, of Sacred Poetry, Epic Poetry and Love Poetry, of Music and Astronomy. May they speak to your hearts.

Features stories by some of Doctor Who's most popular and acclaimed writers: Gareth Roberts, Robert Shearman, Justin Richards, Simon Guerrier, Steve Lyons, Tara Samms, Simon A. Forward, Ian Potter and Sarah Groenewegen.


Notes:

It was around the same time as I'd been asked to submit ideas for Short Trips: Companions, that Jac Rayner told me she was to be editing this fourth collection, with a story featuring each of the Doctors, and, based on the characterisation in Constant Companion, she specifically wanted me to provide the Second Doctor's instalment. This then was the first commission I hadn't actually solicited, so it has a special place on my CV for that for a start. Since the Muse for the Second Doctor story was to be Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, the scope was fairly wide - stars, galaxies, the universe was my oyster really - and originally I was thoroughly stuck for ideas as a result. In the end, as usual, two ideas occurred of their own accord - one borrowed from a very old Who idea of mine, concerning Traken, and an all-new one that took its inspiration from the fairly commonplace confusion between astronomy and astrology. The story that resulted, The Astronomer's Apprentice, is something of an Alice through a Doctor Who looking glass and turned out to be one of the few bright spells in what was a difficult time, personally. So it has a special place in my heart for that too.
Emotional Chemistry
Emotional Chemistry

"Love! Surely one of the most destructive forces in the universe. There’s nothing a man — or woman — won’t do for true love."

1812 — The Vishenkov household, along with the rest of Moscow, faces the advance of Napoleon Bonaparte. At their heart is the radiant Dusha, a source of inspiration — and more besides — for them all. But family friend, Captain Padorin, is acting like a man possessed — by the Devil.

2024 — Fitz is under interrogation regarding a burglary and fire at the Kremlin. The Doctor has disappeared in the flames. Colonel Bugayev is investigating a spate of antique thefts on top of which he now has a time-travel mystery to unravel.

5000 — Lord General Razum Kinzhal is ready to set in motion the final stages of a world war. More than the enemy, his fellow generals of the Icelandic Alliance fear what such a man might do in peacetime.

What can bridge these disparate events in time? Love will find a way. But the Doctor must find a better alternative. Before love sets the world on fire.

This is another in the series of original adventures for the Eighth Doctor.


Notes:

Another great love of mine is Russian literature. So from as far back as 1994 I wanted to write this book. Emotional Chemistry was originally submitted to Virgin Publishing, as a proposal for one of their Doctor Who: Missing Adventures (MA) series, featuring the Third Doctor (Pertwee) and companion Liz Shaw. (See what I mean about that team being a favourite of mine!) Good job I don't throw these ideas away, because following up my success with Drift, I was pitching a number of further proposals at BBC Books, and asked Justin Richards about the possibility of having a go at an Eighth Doctor Adventure (EDA), featuring Paul McGann's Doctor and companions specifically developed for the book range.

Emotional Chemistry was my first EDA pitch, originally featuring the characters of Fitz and Anji. Justin loved the idea, so then all that remained was the challenge of reworking it ever so slightly to feature the new companion of Trix, who was set to be a replacement for Anji. Potentially even tougher than writing for Evelyn Smythe in The Sandman, as with Trix I hadn't even a voice to go on. But by taking her love of acting and playing roles as a starting point, I was soon able to get inside her head and, hopefully, figure out how she ticked in the situation confronting her.

Much of the original story itself remained, driven as it was by the key original characters (again a principal focus was to make sure the supporting cast were, in the main, as important as the regulars), and the whole thing came alive, from the moment I sat down to write the full novel, over the course of four and a half months. (Even while in the process of working on those final rewrites for Shell Shock and, at one point, one of the Short Trips stories. Phew.) What you get in the end, hopefully, is a Doctor Who adventure with a sense of a Russian epic, and at its heart a love story with an sf twist or two. Including, as has been pointed out to me, four (?) different methods of time travel. And it wouldn't be any kind of homage to Russian literature without an element of tragedy. So it's not laugh-a-minute stuff, but I have a great deal of affection for this book. I could write an essay on it, but as with all of these, I think I'm better off leaving the book speak for itself.
Bone of Contention
Bone of Contention

It’s good to get away from the joys of motherhood once in a while. So when the Perloran government call upon Bernice Summerfield for to recover a state treasure, she readily obliges.

Trouble is, the previous Perloran government traded the artefact away to the Galyari, and to the Galyari, a deal is a deal. So when Benny arrives on the Clutch to ask if the Perlorans can have their Bone back, she soon realises she has her work cut out for her.

A job that’s complicated significantly by a frightened young Galyari who latches onto her, as if to prove that when it comes to the joys of motherhood, there is no escape.

And the growing pains of this particular youngster are set to prove very painful indeed.


Notes:

Okay, the truth behind this one is I have a fondness for fairy tales, and whilst my career hasn't quite (yet) qualified as one of those, The Bone of Contention is simply that. Of course I don't want to give away any spoilers - although most people reading this will have heard the play by now ;) so we should be reasonably safe - it's one of a number of fairy tales I'd long wanted to translate into an sf setting.

Some time after The Sandman, I'd been pestering Gary Russell with a number of proposals for audios and presumably in order to shut me up, he kindly asked if I'd like to do a Benny audio featuring the Galyari. The only other stipulation was that it also featured Mordecan, to be played again by Robin Bowerman, brother of Lisa - Professor Bernice Summerfield herself - as they had never worked together before. So, armed with those specifications, it's actually still a mystery to me as to why I jumped to the idea of this particular fairy tale being the ideal vehicle, other than perhaps the avian nature of the Galyari themselves.

Up to that point, I'd never encountered Benny before, in any medium, so I was grateful to Gary for sending me a handful of the audios and I set about familiarising myself with Lisa Bowerman's portrayal and, as luck would have it, I discovered that, on top of being an archaeaologist, Benny had recently become a mother under typically curious sf circumstances. So I emerged from my mini-marathon of Benny-listening not only feeling that I had a handle on the character, but with a potentially strong emotional hook for her role within the story. After that, it was one of those cases of a story that largely wrote itself. Helped by my familiarity with the Galyari - well, you'd kind of expect that - and Mordecan, and the moderate challenge of including a fairly major non-speaking character (Griko) in an audio only served to make the whole thing more interesting.

There was one minor complication in that Robin Bowerman had apparently expressed a reluctance to reprise the role of Mordecan if he had to do his original Oirish accent. Fortunately, it was Gary who came up with a neat little sidestep for that particular issue, and so there's another angle to Mordecan in this one. I'm not sure how effectively that retrofits into The Sandman, but it works here and there's a nice exchange of dialogue as a result, for which I can claim no responsibility.

The play did have a different working title, but I was never happy with it and it was felt, quite rightly, that it would have given away the twist. For the same reason, I guess I'd best not tell you what it was here either.
Dreamtime
Dreamtime

The Dreamtime is living Time. The Dreaming is living myth.

A city travels the stars, inhabited by stone ghosts. At its heart, an ancient remembrance of Earth. Mythical creatures stalk the streets and alien visitors have come in search of trade. But there is nothing to trade. There is only fear and death. And the stone ghosts.

For Hex's first trip in the TARDIS, it's about the strangest place he could have imagined. Weird and very far from wonderful. Adjustment to his new life could prove tough. But he will have to adjust and do more, just to stay alive, and Ace will have to be his guide through this lost city of shadows and predatory dreams. And the Doctor is the first to go missing.

The Doctor has crossed into the Dreamtime.

This story takes place after Survival

Notes:

It was around the time that Gary asked me to do a Benny audio - the one that became The Bone of Contention – that I figured, strike while the iron’s hot, nothing to lose, so while I had Gary’s attention I thought I’d run this idea by him. Basically I seem to recall the email pitched it as something exploring Aboriginal Mythology in a sci-fi setting, and possibly featuring the Galyari. Only possibly, because I’d had the idea in mind for some time, but it had only just begun to take on any sort of shape as a story. As luck would have it, it turned out that Gary had a fascination with Aboriginal Mythology, so he said yes, he’d like to see a full proposal. Which was my cue to get busy.

So next stage was the synopsis, during which I began to appreciate that the Galyari did indeed have a role here. I'd known I wanted aliens in there, who weren’t necessarily bad guys, but with ulterior motives, both to bring out the sf elements, establishing the setting as part of a broader universe and, in terms of the audio medium, bringing another interesting set of sounds to the mix. With their balance of advanced technology and primal mythology of their own, in the context of the themes I was wanting to explore, the Galyari were ideal. And of course it was a chance to have them away from the Clutch for a change.

Once the synopsis had met with Gary's approval, it was a case of waiting to hear which Doctor and companion team would be involved, and not for the first time in my Doctor Who career I was handed an entirely new companion character to cater for. Even Ace, although entirely familiar to me courtesy of the TV series, presented something of a challenge here because Big Finish had developed her character in ways that were new to me until I gave a few of her audios a listen - principally Dark Flame and Colditz. And Gary was very helpful in the latter stages in clarifying how they’d developed Ace in the audios, and elements of Ace’s and Hex’s roles in the play were switched around in the later stages to reflect that. Hex, the new boy, was going to be a tougher prospect than Evelyn Smythe because, to begin with, I wasn't even going to have a voice to work from. In order not to slow the scriptwriting down I just pressed ahead writing Hex in something of a generic fashion, but fortunately it wasn't too long before I was sent a sample (minus fx etc) of Harvest, Hex's debut adventure. And as with Evelyn before him, once I had the actor's portrayal and the all-important voice in my head I could proceed pretty smoothly.

Another consideration was that the release schedules were altered such that Dreamtime was moved up to become Hex’s first trip in the TARDIS – so Hex’s dialogue had to be rewritten in places to bring across some of that heightened wonder and awe at meeting aliens and seeing real spaceships for the first time.

As in The Sandman, one of the key characters in this play was always going to be the setting. One thing I knew right from the moment the idea popped into my head, was that if I was going to tell a Doctor Who story featuring an encounter with Aboriginal mythology, then the setting was going to have to be something quite different and it wasn’t going to be just a case of the Doctor up against the gods. It was the nature of Aboriginal mythology that was the seed for the story – as with Native American mythology, it’s a living mythology that evolves with the people and the land. As society advances, the myths grow to accommodate changes and developments. So the trick was to take all that and throw it into an sf setting, and see what happened. Fortunately, the way I saw it, so much of the spiritual elements and the culture can be conjured so vividly in the sounds: you hear a digeridu, you see the Australian landscape, for example. So my aim was going to have to be to incorporate a lot of that into the soundscape and, I hoped, to make sure that sound was crucial in some way to the story. And, as in The Sandman, to bring the setting - in this case Uluru City - to life through sound and dialogue, but keeping it all as natural as possible.

Some of the problems that arose after the script's completion added a few extra twists to the way the play turned out. For one thing, my original script had managed to overrun, despite repeated timings (but as Gary pointed out, you have to allow for the actors who like to savour their lines and so on, darlings ;) ) and Gary had to apply his editing skills once I could get no further with the chopping and changing. Some elements involving the Galyari and their own mythology were dropped, but for the most part it all came through the ordeal intact. Then further minor alterations were called for when we realised we weren't going to be able to get the requisite numbers of Aboriginal actors called for in the play. Oops. A little creativity was called for to explain the absence of Aboriginals in Uluru City, and fortunately there was no shortage of authentic Australian actors to play the (slightly) modified roles. And finally, Gary had managed to ask Steffan Rodhri, who had played Korshal in The Bone of Contention to reprise his role, so the original Galyari commander was duly replaced, and the female Galyari was also renamed because she had originally been called something beginning with a K as well. It's that sort of attention to detail that goes into these productions.
Grey's Anatomy
Bernice Summerfield's Collected Works

"It might be your name on the deeds, but you don't belong here any more. This is our home, our collection."

The Braxiatel Collection. It's a museum, art gallery, and academic institute. A home for renowned archaeologists, runaway art thieves, and galactic waifs and strays. It's been a private playground and the battlefield in the fight against tyranny. And now things are changing again.

With the Collection's founder missing, it's up to those left behind to make this place their own.

Amidst the chaos of visitors from the far future, dark secrets, old friends and new enemies, Bernice Summerfield must do whatever's necessary to keep the doors open and her family safe.

Yet through it all, there's one truth she cannot escape.

Braxiatel is gone. And nature abhors a vacuum.

Including brand-new stories from Kate Orman, Simon Bucher-Jones, Jonathan Blum, Mark Michalowski, Dale Smith, Simon A Forward and Philip Purser-Hallard.

Notes:

Errata Non Grata: Well, aren't they all? But first of all, owing to a mishap in the typesetting stage, an error crept in and it's a rather glaring one, it being the first letter of the first word of the first line and thus a nice big drop-down letter. Thus, there is no sweeping it under the carpet of the sheer majesty of the story. Ahem. Suffice to say, Mordecan's opening line should read:

"No questions asked".

Fairly simple, but it makes a difference. The difference being that it actually makes sense.

It was friend and fellow author, Nick Wallace, who landed the role of editor on this Bernice Summerfield short story anthology and he approached quite a number of writers for contributions. In his email to me, he asked for something using the character of Bev from the Bennyverse and my own Mordecan, preferably involving some sort of con or scam. That was essentially my brief.

I hmmed and hahed a while over specific ideas, before something took shape around an article to which a friend had pointed me on the Voynich Manuscript and, as if by magic, Mr Grey and his own arcane tome were there in front of me. And, being me, more than writing about some of the established characters to be found on the Collection, I really fancied populating it with some of my own: hence, the Society was founded.

For personal reasons, this story was both something of a struggle and something of a welcome diversion, which makes for an odd combination, but other than the aforementioned unfortunate glaring error and the fact that, in an ideal world, I might have explored Mr Grey and his 'Manuscript', as well as the members of the Society at greater length and perhaps included an encounter between Mr Mordecan and the Quire, I was reasonably pleased with the way the story turned out. Oh, and I did have an idea to include a guest appearance from Viola and Neverglade from The Astronomer's Apprentice, if only because it seemed to me the Collection was just the sort of place they'd like to visit. But it's a fun piece and, who knows, they can always visit another time.
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