Writer AL Kennedy went through a bit of a creative regeneration when she took on the task of penning The Drosten’s Curse – a Fourth Doctor novel wherein golf bunkers develop a taste for golfers.
It’s clear that being given the keys to the TARDIS has opened her horizons and left an indelible impression upon the author of such books as So I Am Glad and The Blue Book – so much so that she’s penned an article in The Guardian about how Doctor Who has reaffirmed in her the precious process of storytelling.
Needless to say, her words are inspiring – tentatively laying out the perils of surrendering her writing process over to the Doctor.
“It’s not that I don’t have fun when I’m writing. I do. I try to make it feel as exciting as sitting on my backside in an orthopaedic chair moving my fingers ever can. But writing for ’Who, it seemed appropriate to end each day’s work with an apparently insoluble problem and then wake up in the morning and see which character had solved it overnight – that kind of risk would give me an aneurysm in a novel that was starting its world from scratch. It was a little unnerving doing it with The Drosten’s Curse, but it was also exhilarating.”
Stepping back into the world of Doctor Who also served to underline the importance of fiction for adults, as well as children (The Independent’s review of The Drosten’s Curse focused on a potential cross over between the two fanbases – deciding that it may actually encourage more Doctor Who fans to read her work rather than the other way around – which, if true, is a shame )
“I think adults need fiction. I believe there’s an important place in any balanced life for vigorously fictional fictions. They’re proof of our imagination’s power. That’s the power that plans a change of socks, a change of government, a change of address – it’s useful. And it’s the power that puts you into the mind and life and body of someone other than yourself – it makes other members of our species less strange and makes us practise empathy in a way that feels entrancing, entertaining and so forth.”
And sci-fi has as much of duty to empathise with others as any other form of fiction – as Kennedy points out the clue is in the name Science Fiction – it’s a duty that, as she pictured the young readers of The Drosten’s Curse, was both ‘a horrifying privilege and a lesson.’
Ultimately, it was a mutually beneficial trip back into the worlds of Doctor Who.
“The project reminded me how precious storytelling is. It can shape a whole life for the better and always be there, making a good time better and a bad one bearable. I like trying to be part of that in general. I hugely enjoyed returning to one of the roots of my creativity and building something my smaller self would have liked.”