I woke up on morning about five o’clock with a phone ringing somewhere outside. It kept on ringing for about twenty minutes, by which time I had most of Tabitha worked out in my head. I changed a few details about when it came to writing it, but only a few. The biggest question to begin with was whether this story should feature Gwen and Rhys or Ianto and Alun. Personally, the vision of those two gorgeous men cuddled up in bed together was too much to resist, even if its words, not pictures, so Ianto and Alun it is.
Until later in the construction of the story I had forgotten about Om-Com, the method by which the Empty Child had communicated with people, but I had formed the idea of a child calling first of all on the payphone outside in the street which, it would later transpire, didn’t take incoming calls. That would be creepy enough, but still just about possible. A glitch in the system might have caused the phone to ring, after all. But when she later phoned Ianto’s landline and then his mobile phone the sinister aspect would slowly emerge.
In the first version of the story worked out in my head, Tabitha actually phones another payphone on Mermaid Quay, when Ianto is on the way to work. But I dismissed that idea because I felt sure Ianto wouldn’t just forget about her and go off to the office. The idea of the story mostly taking place around his and Alun’s apartment felt right. It also made sense since this story takes place after the destruction of the Hub. It’s a useful transition story with no Hub scenes to worry about.
It is a joint services mission, with Garrett’s MI5 people heavily involved as well as Torchwood. This, also, makes perfect sense. Who knows more about wire tapping than military intelligence?
It might seem a slow story at times. There are no action scenes. No guns are ever seen. There is no enemy. Even the ‘man’ that the girl fears turns out to be less to worry about than it seem at first. But this has proved to be one of the more popular stories. I’ve had some excellent feedback about it. Sometimes the simplest ideas work best. Sometimes ideas come from the most peculiar directions. A couple of hours missed sleep was worth it in the end.
The name Tabitha crept in while I was still half asleep, and I decided to keep it. I can’t actually think of anyone else called that than Darrin and Samantha’s daughter in Bewitched, either. So the comment had to stay in the story.
The other cultural reference in this story is The Railway Children. I really don’t know if modern children read stories like that any more. Harry Potter seems to have eclipsed everything else. But I decided to include it here. It actually gets referenced in two other forthcoming stories, one for the Eleventh Doctor and one for Marion and Kristoph. But that’s another matter.
Incidentally, for a little smile, read this story from BBC Wales news that I stumbled across while looking for an image of a Welsh telephone box. This man would probably have been thrilled if Tabitha had called him.