Welcome to ‘The Austen Code’, the first story of ‘The Salvador Trilogy’ in ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series! This is a story I wrote for my Mum for her birthday when we visited Bath in March, 2011.
After enjoying writing my first trilogy of stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in 2010 with ‘The Railway of Time’, ‘The Space Hotel’ and ‘Doom of the Daleks’, I made plans to do a second trilogy in 2011. I’d made a conscious decision to make it a trilogy of linked stories with a certain theme.
The trilogy was a pretty blank slate at first. It was a challenge to figure out what sort of trilogy I wanted to do and what the theme was all about. Eventually, I came up with the decision of having a central villain featured in all of the three stories, much like what ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ did from 1983.
I wasn’t sure who the villain was going to be and how he would be dangerous to the TARDIS trio in the three stories. But I knew I wanted this villain to have a personal link to the Doctor. What that personal link was would be developed during the trilogy. I soon created the villainous Salvador.
In terms of what the first story of ‘The Salvador Trilogy’ would be about, I eventually decided I wanted to have an Earth-based story and to have the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy visit a place that I was very familiar with. I eventually decided to have the adventure set in the city of Bath, a place that I love so much!
I’ve visited Bath a number of times with my parents on weekend holidays and on day trips when I was young. Bath is also a significant place in history, as it has the Roman Baths there as well as the Jane Austen Centre. I used this opportunity to feature both Jane Austen and the Roman Baths in the tale.
It also gave me an opportunity to do write another timey-wimey story, like what I’d done with ‘The Railway of Time’. This enabled me to set the story within three time zones in Bath, with the first in 2011, the second in 1797 with Jane Austen and the third in Aquae Sulis, 79 AD with the Roman Baths.
In terms of the narrative, not all of the four episodes are in linear order as you’d expect. You really need to pay attention whilst reading this story. The first episode is set in 2011, the second is in 1797, the third is in 79 AD and the fourth is where all of the time zones come together and it gets complicated.
Prior to writing this story, my parents and I visited Bath on a day trip in March 2011 for my Mum’s birthday. It was a lovely opportunity to revisit Bath again. We visited the landmarks I wanted to see for inclusion in my story, including the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre which was a delight.
I collected a lot of research that day from visiting Bath with the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre. Looking back, ‘The Austen Code’ is a story that I did the most historical research into. It was fun and interesting to do, as I was learning about Jane Austen and the Roman Baths from their distinctive periods.
Writing for Jane Austen as a historical character was a challenge. I wanted to be truthful with writing Miss Austen in the story and how she interacted with the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. This helped with the research I had, as well as watching plenty of adaptations of Jane Austen’s works on TV and in film.
Having the Roman Baths in the story was exciting to do. It provided the gothic atmosphere I wanted in terms of what was going on in the story. I hadn’t visited the Roman Baths in a long time before I wrote this story. Visiting them and the Pump Room in March 2011 helped me to visualise this story.
Just to say beforehand, this is not an accurate account of what goes on with Jane’s first visit to Bath in 1797 as recorded in history. The historical event is currently vague, so what goes on in this story is made up and visualised by me. To all Jane Austen fans, please don’t criticize too harshly on what I write! 😀
It was great fun and interesting to discover about Jane Austen’s experiences of Bath when she was a young lady in 1797 and when she resided there in the 1800s. ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ helped in providing the context for this story with how Miss Austen’s feelings of Bath are reflected.
The journeys of the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy were a joy to write for in this story too. The Doctor senses an approaching danger, not realising who the real enemy behind all of this is. Nyssa and Billy’s relationship develops in this story too as it reaches a new level. Who knows where they’ll go next?! 😀
At the time of writing this story, my dear Nana from Newport passed away when I was half-way writing ‘Part Three’. I kept writing to keep myself cheerful and to honour Nana’s memory with writing my ‘Doctor Who’ story, as well as seeing Sarah Sutton at the ‘London Film and Comic Con’ held in July 2011.
I also made a dedication to Nicholas Courtney who played the Brigadier in ‘Doctor Who’ on TV. Not long before I wrote this story, dear Nick Courtney passed away in February 2011. I’m sure you’ll spot the dedication when you read this story. I also re-watched ‘Mawdryn Undead’ with the Brigadier to honour Nick Courtney’s memory while I was writing this story.
Before you ask, yes I’ve listened to ‘Frostfire’ by Marc Platt which features Maureen O’Brien as Vicki with the First Doctor and Steven meeting Jane Austen in that. I’ve made a reference to that story and ‘The Austen Code’ is Miss Austen’s first encounter with the Doctor before meeting him in ‘Frostfire’.
I’m glad Jane Austen meets the Doctor in this story by me. I’m pleased that recently, the Eleventh Doctor mentions meeting Jane Austen during a writing competition announcement in ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ in 2011. The Twelfth Doctor mentions meeting Miss Austen too in ‘The Caretaker’ in 2014. Clara Oswald has also met Jane Austen according to ‘Face the Raven’, but we won’t go into that! 😀
‘The Austen Code’ was a joy to write for me as a first story in this second trilogy by me with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. It was a joy to revisit Bath and have it as a setting in the story since I knew the place so well. It was fun to incorporate Jane Austen as a historical character and have the Roman Baths in it.
But like I said, this story is the beginning of a trilogy featuring a dangerous enemy for the Doctor. By the time you come to finish reading this story, Salvador will be setting another trap for the Doctor…
I hope you’ll enjoy ‘The Austen Code’ as much I enjoyed writing it!
TIM BRADLEY, January 2017.
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