I've mentioned fan fiction several times in the course of my Doctor Who blogging at FlickFilosopher.com: the fan fiction-ish impulses that are driving the new incarnation of the show, the Doctor Who fanfic I wrote in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the new fanfic I keep getting inspired to write by the new show. And I promised to post my fanfic online, so here it is.
More than 20 years ago, as a teenager, I was already aware of the pitfalls that fan fiction typically falls into: it becomes tedious wish-fulfillment fantasy interesting only to the writer rather than compelling story interesting to (hopefully) a somewhat wider audience. The perils of Mary Sue-dom were particularly dangerous, and something I desperately wanted to avoid. I had read very little fan fiction at that point, all of it bad. (I haven't read much more since, because I quickly learned that almost all of it is bad.) But I was intrigued by the idea of playing in someone else's sandbox and doing something with that sandbox that hadn't been done before.
I set out to turn on its head a trope of fanfic that, even as a fanfic neophyte, I already knew was a terrible cliché: the romance between the Mary Sue character and the Hero. Much as I loved the fantasy of traveling with the Doctor and, of course, the clearly inevitable smooching that would follow, it seemed obvious to me, even as a mere teenager with hardly any experience of love at all, that there was no way someone like the Doctor and a human could have anything like a healthy relationship. So this was the big tale I set out to tell through a long series of short stories: of a human woman who is basically driven close to insane by her relationship with the Doctor.
It became increasingly important to me as the series went on that the stories be not just about the doomed romance but that they be interesting science fiction as well, so that the relationship was developing over the course of all sorts of fun, scary, dangerous, gripping adventures. I may not have succeeded in doing that (I think I did, though more so with the later stories than the earlier ones), but that was the intention.
I wrote 15 or so of those stories until I lost interest as Doctor Who fandom waned in the 1990s, but I never even got close to finishing the saga. Many scenarios for the later stories still bopped around my head, though, and I always imagined that someday I'd get around to writing them. And then, when the new Doctor Who appeared in 2005, I was astonished to see how similar it was, in a lot of ways, to the kinds of stories I had written and was planning to write. Particularly the far richer emotional tapestry of the stories and of the Doctor himself, but also some of the scenarios, too.
And then what happened, naturally, is that I instantly started to see how my saga could be continued with the new Doctors, how amazingly easy it would be just advance the story a certain number of years, skipping over the events of all the stories I had yet to write (though in the full knowledge of everything that would have happened in those stories), and pick it up and run with it.
I figure the best way to start off here is with one of those new stories, "Tristan's Father," which takes place not long after the regeneration of the Doctor into "Christopher Eccleston," almost immediately after the events of the episode "The Doctor Dances." I want to start here mostly because I'm a much better writer today than I was as a teenager, and I'm hoping to get you hooked with a good story before subjecting you to some of the very early stories, which, while not at all bad considering my then youth and inexperience, are simply not as compelling as some of the later ones.
I'll post installments of "Tristan's Father" about once a week or so, in blocks of 5,000 words or so, until it's finished. (I'm not done writing, so I'm not sure how long it'll be, but I'd guess at least 40,000 words.) After that, I'll alternate posting old stories in their entireties and new ones in the same installment manner.
Comments here and by email are welcome.
--MaryAnn Johanson, June 2, 2008