Professor Soon’s House of Nightmares Experience started with the description of Ben and Donna in the shelter and The Doctor turning up with fish and chips. The shelter moved from Margate to Brighton and eventually to Blackpool simply because I know Blackpool quite a lot better and the piers in Blackpool are complete unlike the other two places. Beyond that, I had no idea where the story was going and I went back and wrote Translations instead.

I came back to it later with an idea about the House of Nightmares turning out to be a portal to another planet from which The Doctor would have to escape along with the people who had been suckered into the ‘Experience’. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like Planet of the Dead without the bus.

My next idea was to have some kind of TARDIS like dimensional relativity going on inside the ‘Experience’. But even then, it still felt a bit derivative.

Using the idea of the nightmare tunnel in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is also derivative, of course. But it really was the easiest way to describe the effect I wanted.

Donna’s nightmare, about rows between her parents when she was a little girl was relatively easy to write. The fact that her parents have always rowed was conveyed strongly in the Doctor Who TV series. The ongoing row about ‘Australia’ seemed like the sort of thing that would happen. Young Donna reaching for the knife because she was so tired of it was the nightmare part of it all.

Ben’s story actually gave me the creeps when I was describing the condemned cell and the process of execution. And I had to do a fair bit of research about it, which was even nastier. But the result is a fairly accurate description of how an execution by hanging took place in Newgate prison not long before they stopped doing them there and moved the execution shed to Pentonville instead.

I originally intended that The Doctor would also fall victim and start remembering the death of Gallifrey or something else that was traumatic to him. But I decided instead that he would resist. He still saw some terrible things, but at enough of a distance for him to deal with the emotional impact without being lost in it. He was able, therefore, to rescue his friends from their nightmares and deal with Professor Soon. Having The Doctor think about people he has loved was a slightly soppy way of making sure he kept his wits about him. Throwing Jack Harkness into the equation made it a bit less soppy.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgate_Prison
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/newgate.html
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hanging1.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Pier,_Blackpool
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Pier,_Blackpool
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pier,_Blackpool