Saturday, 23 February 2008

How I met (the real) Craig Hinton

Hi! To make up for the lost weeks, here's another segement of Time's Champion's backhistory (although I'm still ill :)).

In January 2005, I went to my second Gallifrey convention with the sole intent of meeting Craig to discuss Time's Champion. I met him after a panel discussing the (then upcoming) Series 1 of Doctor Who, along with Paul Cornell, Rob Shearman, and two other men I never found the names of (one might have been a dentist!).

Craig was as he'd described - he was average height, a bit portly, with black hair, sallow skin and black eyes with glasses, wearing jeans, a yellow shirt and black jacket - and we talked about the Valeyard. Craig said the plot of the story was easy enough to figure; it was the motivation of the Valeyard, what made him tick, that had stumped him. He told me, if anything, the Valeyard shouldn't be treated as evil, just amoral, and a lover of structure, order and procedure. The nicest thing was, whenever Craig introduced me to his colleagues, he called me his good friend. :)

For about three hours Craig and I spoke on the book, being a writer, the differences between American and English dialects and the strength of the pound vs. the dollar. Then came the time when he had to get back to his panels and we said our goodbyes. I asked if he'd ever be back to California, and he said he'd be sure to return soon.

Now, I had brought my camera and video recorder to get some pictures of Craig, but I'd forgotten to take pictures, but I figured I'd see Craig again in a year or so. However, just as I was leaving the hotel, I saw Craig standing outside the front door speaking with a person and I suddenly felt I needed to take a picture and shoot a brief video with him, just to say hi to my family. So, I did. That picture and video are the only physical memories I have of Craig now, and I cherish them so much. :)

Over the next year I plotted the book, and by August I started to write some brief scenes, including a 2 page prologue I sent to Craig which he edited, which appears in the forthcoming Shelf Life charity anthology in Craig's memory. Then, in January 2006, I started to write the actual text, while Craig began his training to be a maths teacher in the UK. He didn't make to the convention that year (nor did I) but we still continued to correspond by e-mail as always.

But throughout the year, I could tell that Craig's personal pressures and problems were catching up with him. I wasn't aware of all, nor do I want to detail those I did here, but suffice to say our original plan of co-planning the story's outline and co-writing the text became, to me, an increasingly unlikely outcome. I don't at all want it to sound as if Craig left me alone with the project or lost interest, not at all. He just slipped away from everyone.

So, I took the liberty of drafting the 2nd half of the book that Craig had never planned, with the intention of running it past him when his affairs were more in order. But by late October Craig stopped answering my e-mails. By late November he stopped posting on the Outpost Gallifrey forums. I began to worry, and sent messages to him seeing if he was all right. There was no reply.

Then, on the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 2006, I visited Craig's author thread on the forum, and read a post from a friend of his who broke the terrible news: My and everyone's friend Craig Hinton was dead at 42.

I should stop here for now.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The real co-work

Hi all. Sorry about the near two week break in posts but I have been, and still am, quite sick. Still, I feel up to posting after having visited the GallifreyOne convention on the 16th, and what a time that was! The people were very friendly and my editor David J Howe was extremely nice to talk with me for a few minutes on the current stage of publishing, which is nearing the end now. So soon... :)

Now, back to the story. :) By late August 2004 I was back from the mission in Texas and I had contacted Craig about the publication of Time's Champion. Sadly, he told me that it wasn't going to be published at all. I never found out the exact details but he told me it hadn't been rejected in the traditional sense, but nor was it being released. He was quite crushed.

I was devastated - here, with the book and story both he and I had dreamed of for years, just shy of publication, and it was gone. Well, take this for what you wish, I became immediately determined not to let this stand. So, about a week or so later, I decided to go back to the 6th Doctor/Mel story I had started to plot before I'd first spoken with Craig, but I felt it was only curteous to let him know and assure him I wouldn't use any of the ideas we'd shared without his permission.

Imagine my surprise and joy, when Craig said I could go ahead and write Time's Champion itself. It was just like that - no hassles, no uncertainties. Craig just said I could write the book. Now at the time we expected that this would only be a fun learning project, perhaps at most an e-book he might have posted on the website he was planning to set-up for himself. We didn't see, im 2004, this happening in 2008. If only he were here to see this.

So, with Craig's permission granted, in September 2004, I set out to plot and outline Time's Champion, taking Craig's notes and advice all the way. It was a very active way to finish the year. And then came January 2005, when, at an earlier GallifreyOne convention, I finally got to meet Craig Hinton in person...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

The e-mail connection

As 2002 began, I was in the loop for Craig's next Doctor Who novel, Time's Champion. Craig was so nice to me, and very open about his work, and life. We didn't just discuss Doctor Who; we talked about politics, cooking, differences between British and American culture, and religion. Craig was a deeply religious person who kept himself going forward through his many personal problems via his faith in God. He was very excited to hear about my then upcoming mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and wished me the best. I really appreciated that. :)

But, what about Time's Champion?

Well, as I said, Craig was very open with his work, and was willing to get my input on his book and progress with the plot. Over the next 9 months we pitched ideas and concepts to each other, primarily over the origin and nature of the Valeyard. I was very excited to see that our opinions on this point were very similar, if not the same.

As the day of my mission's start (in Fort Worth, Texas) approached (October 2nd, 2002) I asked Craig when he hoped the book would be published. Now, by mid 2002 the BBC had altered its PDA/EDA release schedule from 2 books per month to one a month, so the window for Time's Champion's publication (some time in 2003 for the series' 40th anniversary) had closed. This had made Craig a little discouraged, but he felt he would be able to get the book out in that year anyway. Plus, this gave him the oppurtunity to focus on two other novels he wanted to develop: an 8th Doctor/Fitz/Trix/Auton story called Synthespians, and a 7th Doctor/Mel story called Thy Kingdom Come, a sequel to his first MA The Crystal Buchepalus. So, Craig was ready for the future, and Time's Champion would be waiting. :)

So, in late September 2002, I said goodbye to Craig for 2 years and went to serve a mission in Texas. I had a wonderful and spiritual time, completely detached from Doctor Who, but when I returned in very late August 2004, one of the first things I did was to contact Craig and find out all the good news about Time's Champion.

Sadly, the news was only bad...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

How I met (online) Craig Hinton

So, like I said in my post, by September 2000 I had received a rejection slip to my Big Finish audio submission The Seventh Door. This made me determined to try again to solve the riddle of the Valeyard, and this time I decided to pair him up against the 6th Doctor. I toyed with the idea of the 6th Doctor and Mel being summoned to Gallifrey to deal with an impending doom forseen in the Matrix, but I didn't go too far before I decided that I needed to do more research to see if there had already been any 6th Doctor/Valeyard conflicts beyond the Trial.

This study brought to my knowledge the works of Craig Hinton and the concept of the Doctor as Time's champion.

Now I hadn't heard too much of Craig at this time, but I had heard of his novel Millennial Rites, which, by its cover, touched somewhat upon the 6th Doctor/Valeyard conflict. However, through my reading of reviews and analyses of this book, I came to the (innaccurate) conclusion that Craig viewed the Valeyard as the ultimate evolution of the 6th Doctor, an unstable, erratic and ultimately failed incarnation of the Doctor.

In reading several fans' posts (some of whom certainly seemed to see the 6th Doctor as an early Valeyard) on the subject at Outpost Gallifrey and the BBC website's Doctor Who forum of the 6th Doctor's fall into the Valeyard, which led to the 7th Doctor (supposedly) reverse engineering his own creation as Time's champion to thwart the destructive 6th Doctor, I began to feel that Craig and other authors of the '90s, perhaps unwillingly, had dealt the 6th Doctor a very bad literary blow.

So, I signed on the BBC's series forum and I began to post defences of the 6th Doctor, how he was not destined to become the Valeyard nor a failed Doctor etc. etc., and I slowly received the notice of other fans both for and against my arguments. I also received the notice of Craig Hinton himself. :)

To my delight he was very gracious and explained that his intentions for the 6th Doctor had been exactly the opposite that I assumed; that he had hoped to show the 6th Doctor as a strong, rallying hero against the shadow of the Valeyard. Once I read Millennial Rites and its sequel The Quantum Archangel in 2001, I realized how much Craig enjoyed the 6th Doctor and also the puzzling Valeyard. I hoped that he would write more on the two characters, even though at the time he stated in his posts that, in the wake of Matrix, there was little more that could be with the Valeyard.

Nevertheless, I decided to approach Craig directly on the subject, and, I asked him in his Ask the Author thread at Outpost Gallifrey if I could e-mail him. He agreed and in October 2001 I did just that, telling him my feelings on the Valeyard and my hopes for a successful conclusion to his storyline with the 6th Doctor.

In a very short time, Craig replied, and told me about the book he was starting to write, a book detailing the 6th Doctor's regeneration and re-match with the Valeyard, a book called Time's Champion ...