For the Warriors Gate and Terminus novelisations, see the Doctor Who page.
My first pro sale was a radio serial titled The Last Rose of Summer. Made for peanuts with love and joy, it was the spawn of a bunch of TV and radio colleagues and it played at strange hours on commercial radio stations throughout the land. Our timing was good. It was science fiction, and ’77 was the summer of Star Wars. I was 23.
The book sale came right after, a spinoff in the form of a novelisation of the serial scripts. The six half-hours offered a handy mass of foundation material for 70,000 or so words. It wasn’t just a matter of putting in the he said/she saids, although I’ve seen many a book-of-the-film that did little more. The radio serial was followed by another two. The second book was written and there was even a cover designed, but publication was cancelled and the contract was paid off. Hitchhiker’s Guide notwithstanding, the radio novelisation was too niche a genre to be commercial.
Sphere later offered to reprint Last Rose and the unpublished SF titles… but on condition that I used a pseudonym, to avoid crossover with the campaign they were planning for Chimera. Which is how Stephen Couper came into the world.
Rather than reprint, I rewrote. Names, incidents, worldbuilding… I can’t give you details, it’s mists-of-time stuff now. So The Last Rose of Summer became Dying of Paradise and Hunters’ Moon became The Ice Belt and The Babylon Run… well, with history repeating itself, The Babylon Run was written but remained unpublished until 2022.
(And in the process, I should add, those early drafts would have been lost. This was a time when cut-and-paste meant exactly what it says.)
The film and TV novelisations were straight work-for-hire, a valuable form of support in those lean early years. Saturn 3 sustained me in the long ITV strike of 1979, and planted the idea that I could maybe make a living at this trade. Silver Dream Racer saw me into the Rank Organisation’s VIP suite at the Silverstone Grand Prix. The Kids from Fame showed up on my doorstep in the form of twenty-four one-hour scripts that I turned into two 50,000 word novels in twenty-one days. To suit the market I took the pseudonym Lisa Todd; Lisa began receiving fan mail from aspiring ballerinas, and responded in kind.Stephen Gallagher