❉ RTD and The Moff Speak About Their New Books!
“I’d collected Target books as a kid, so it felt like closing a circle. And I wanted to test myself too, I was interested to find out what the process would be like. And to look back on an old piece of work after 13 years was fascinating”. – Russell T Davies
It’s a great time to be a Doctor Who fan – Target novelizations are back in style, and former showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat were among the first to adapt their episodes into the beloved format.
The line – which includes Target editions of Rose, The Day of the Doctor, Twice Upon a Time, The Christmas Invasion, and 20th century serial City of Death – is a cavalcade of firsts. Aside from being the first Target novelisations of post-2005 episodes, it’s also the first time a Douglas Adams episode has received the Target treatment. And not only is it Davies’s and Moffat’s first foray into novelizing their own works, it’s Moffat’s first novel!
The two showrunners were interviewed about their respective works in the series – Davies for Rose, and Moffat for The Day of the Doctor. Both were eager to embark on the project, with Davies calling a return to his first episode “fascinating.” Moffat, meanwhile, was surprised at his own desire to revisit his 50th anniversary script:
“I had a hell of a time on that script, I had no idea I wanted to revisit it!”
Both showrunners were, unsurprisingly, fans and collectors of the original Target novelisations as children. Moffat in particular notes his investment in the line:
“Because I’d stared at all the book covers I already owned with such manic intensity, they were carved into my brain like wounds – so I could tell from right across the shop, by the tiniest variation in colour or artwork, if there was a new one on the shelf, and if there was my heart would leap. Then, sometimes, I’d wake up.”
Both also note a unique challenge for the Target series in the 21st century: newness. Before DVDs and streaming sites, the novelisations were the only true record anyone had of the Doctor’s adventures after they aired. Both writers found themselves diving back into the original scripts to a degree, but changing more so that there was something new for fans to discover. If you’ve got these episodes off by heart, you can still expect a few surprises: more background for the character of Mickey Smith, some new additions to the already action-packed Day of the Doctor, and a few pyrotechnics added to the mix now that the stories aren’t bound to reality and budget.
“Bear in mind, there’s a great big invasion of London by shop-window dummies at the end (of Rose), so I’d paved the way for some epic action. On screen, the London Eye just sits there in the background. In this version, it’s a lot more involved! I loved writing that stuff. And writing action is hard – seeing a bullet fly on screen is easy, describing it in prose is much harder, so that was a good test.” – RTD
Davies even said he feels “honour-bound” to add new elements to his stories: “… I know what fandom feels like, there’s nothing we love more than discovering something new about something old.”
As for the effect of the experience? Both Davies and Moffat enjoyed their time on the novelisations hugely… perhaps even to a point where we may see them pursuing more prose in future!
❉ The new line of Target novelisations is available from BBC Books for £6.99 each.
❉ Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, interviewer, and over-analyser of geek entertainment. Find more of her work at karadennison.com or on her Twitter @RubyCosmos.