‘We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.’ — Plato
So, that was 2014, eh? What a year it’s been. Turbulent. In turns awful, in turns amazing. Personal failures that led to new bouts of personal strength, and the end of one of my favourite publishing jobs which came about just in time for what is almost certainly going to be my most favourite publishing job yet!
Personally life has been an odd one. Started off in a great place, hopelessly in love, certain I’d found my soul mate, but that soured throughout the year until it totally collapsed in August. Which was fun. I still feel I had found my soul mate, my ‘one’, alas it seems he was only the ‘one’ for the best part of two years. Of course, as one would expect, the ending of it was terrible, with all kinds of emotional fallout, leading to distractions of the worst kind. But I came through it, and I now sit here able to look back and realise that for all the pain, I have grown once again. Probably became harder as a result, less forgiving of people. (Which explains my rather cold response to a family member who sunk into what I can only call alcoholism, to the point where she absolutely failed to take the advice and help offered to her. And also explains the dissolution of long-term friendship with someone who crossed a line I could no longer ‘go along with’.) I think I am now at a place where I’m actually looking to where my next ‘one’ is — I’m sure he’s out there somewhere. Only this time it’ll be someone who isn’t so far removed from my own age — not that I believe in the idea of an age-gap. After all, a number is just that, but the practicalities of a relationship with a large age-gap are something to be considered. And heeded. What’s the point in going through a bad experience if you’re not willing to learn and do better the next time?
Professionally life has also been an odd one. I started the year in the same role I’d inhabited for the last four years, that of range editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond, only I could already see the end in sight. Things were falling apart behind the scenes — my relationship with my publisher was souring drastically. Was this connected to what was going on in my personal life? It’s entirely possible. At least, the two things did not help each other. I still intend, one day, to tell of my experiences and view on how the series failed, but for now all I can say is I was personally disenfranchised by the whole experience, and was determined to see it end, so that it could be reborn in a stronger manner. So, mid-way through the year as Space: 1889 & Beyond limped its way to the final gate, I found myself in the position of being commissioned to oversee an exciting new project. And all because of a simple Facebook status I wrote! Of course, anybody who has read this blog (and many more besides) are aware of the project now — Lethbridge-Stewart, a new series of novel based on the legendary character from Doctor Who. The series still hasn’t begun, but I have been working hard on it since the beginning on July, pretty much every day since the license was agreed. It has been a crazy six months, working alongside authors who I have always counted among some of my favourites, writers responsible for some of the best Doctor Who prose during the 1990s. The thrill of announcing the series at the start of December cannot be described — the news spread like fire. It seemed everybody was talking about. Including Digital Spy! Insane, I tell ya. My publisher totally didn’t see it coming, but I think I did, as he remarked to me. Because I had been working on for quite a while, I think I started to get a feel for just how big a deal it was, whereas Shaun was busy on other projects for Candy Jar Books. But when the news was out there, well, then Shaun learned just how big this was, too!
And so here I am. The end of 2014, with what may well be my biggest book yet on the verge of being released into the hands of the public (the verge, in this case, being late February), single, but pretty content with how things are. Sure, they could be a lot better, but when I consider all that happened in the last six months I realise I’m a very lucky chap indeed. I’m the controlling element of a series which is going to bring a hell of a lot of readers excitement and fun, and I get to establish the official story of one of the biggest television characters of the last fifty years. I have some amazing people to work with over the next few years — hell, just the following year will see me work alongside some of the best authors out there, and this is only the beginning. So, yes, it’s been an interesting year. At times hard, at times the most fun ever.
So, big thanks to all who have helped to make it such a great and odd year. And I mean to all, even the lost love. Time for my annual sharing of this song, and the words are truly what I believe…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.
First of all, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope you all get a chance to spend the festive time with your loved ones, get some lovely presents (including many books!) and have a most awesome New Year!
Over at Type 40, the Doctor Who blog run by me on behalf of Candy Jar Books, we’ve arranged a very special Christmas gift for fans of Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and The Web of Fear; an exclusive interview with Hannah Haisman, the Executor of Mervyn Haisman’s Estate and the licensor of the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.
Speaking of the series. Plans are gathering apace; we have a special gift coming early next year to precede the release of the first novel, although I can’t say what it is at this time, but I think it’s something a lot of long-time Who fans will truly love. We’ve also got five books planned for 2016 — yup, we’re planning on moving up to five books a year, although the fifth book of 2016 will be a special event that fans will be able to interact with. More news on that coming late 2015! Of the four novels planned for 2016 we’ve got three of the four authors confirmed, with the fourth confirmation imminent. As per our forthcoming 2015 series, it will feature three names well known to Who fans, bringing back authors who’ve been missing from Who prose for way too long. These authors will probably be announced in the summer of 2015, when the writing of our 2016 season begins. As well as the three ‘big names’, we’ll have a brand new name to Who prose, although this author has form, with novels published elsewhere. Part of our mandate is to introduce new authors, not only new to Who (although possibly established elsewhere) but giving new authors their first published work. It’s something Doctor Who has been doing since 1988, and it’s a tradition we intend to keep up. Without such a policy the world may never have experienced the works of such names as Paul Cornell or Ben Aaronovitch. We’re also mindful of the limited number of female writers in the worlds of Doctor Who, and so we hope, with our increase to five novels a year from 2017, we’ll have more opportunities to vary our author selection to include established names, first-time authors, and bring more female authors to the series. On top of all that, very provisional plans are being made and storylines discussed with authors for the 2017 and 2018 seasons – assuming, of course, the series continues that long. I choose to believe it will. 😉
In other news, the end of the current series of Space: 1889 & Beyond has been officially announced in a somewhat unplanned way on Facebook (the first I knew was when I happened across the post two days ago). This statement was made by Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads: ‘Dear Space: 1889 & Beyond Readers: Due to various reasons, Untreed Reads will not be releasing new titles in the series moving forward. However, this does not mean the series will be ending altogether! Stay tuned to this page as things continue to develop. Thanks so much for your support over the last few years!’ One day I will go into these ‘various reasons’, but for now all I will say that it was a mutual decision made by all the authors of the series following a long period of dissatisfaction with the lack of marketing and promotion for the series, which ultimately affected sales in a detrimental way. The Facebook page has been shut down for now, although it will be re-activated at some point in the near future. As intimated above, none of this means the series as a whole is over… Plans are, tentatively, afoot for a print run of the series, which will lead to the eventual continuation of the mission of HMAS Sovereign and her gallant crew as they traverse the aether beyond the asteroid belt. As well as these we hope to release a series of stand-alone novels set elsewhere in the fictional universe of Space: 1889 & Beyond, making the property more accessible to those unwilling to commit to a serialised set of novels. Alas, until these plans are confirmed and the legal side of things sorted out (which could take a while – red tape being what it is!), it could be a while before the series is taken out of the limbo it has found itself in. Until then, the series continues to remain on sale in digital form, which allows everybody a chance to catch up. 🙂
So, the year ends with a bit of a mixed bag. As one series of novels ends (for now) I find myself moving from one range to another, with the arrival of Lethbridge-Stewart. It’s sad that Space: 1889 & Beyond has temporarily ended like this, as we all spent a lot of time and effort on that series, and I feel we created some really good stories and made some nice in-roads with great themes and characters. But, the future looks bright for me as I guide a legend of Doctor Who and get to work with some authors who inspired me back in the ’90s and I get the joy of bringing back some of the best Who authors out there, some of which have been sadly neglected by Doctor Who prose since 2005.
See you in the New Year!
Andy Frankham-Allen 😀
I never had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Courtney, but I know many people who did. And if there is one thing you can be sure of, all of them tell you how much of a gentlemen he was. His contribution to Doctor Who cannot be exaggerated. He has been gone almost four years now, but thanks to his amazing portrayal of Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart he will never been forgotten. And so, to honour his memory on the day of his birth, I present this excerpt from my forthcoming novel, The Forgotten Son, the first book in the all-new series Lethbridge-Stewart. Every legend has a beginning, and this is his…
Nicholas Courtney: 16th December 1929 – 22nd February 2011.
After a rather hectic last week with the official announcement of Lethbridge-Stewart, things have quietened down a bit in the lead-up to Christmas. I think I’ll do a bit of a news round up thing later this week, but for now let me draw your attention to the a three-part article written for Candy Jar’s Type 40 blog by Chris McKeon, in which he looks at the influence, and absence, of Sir Alistair in Doctor Who since 2005.
Well, it’s only been a few days since the series was announced, but already a lot of interest is being generated (the series even made it to Digital Spy!). With all this interest a few questions have begun circulating, so I thought I’d take a moment to address a few of them, just to clarify things.
Are they official or fan made?
The short answer is… they are official. But let me explain. No, they are not licensed by the BBC, but that’s because they don’t need to be. The BBC does not own the characters or concepts created by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln for their Doctor Who scripts. The copyright is owned by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate and Henry Lincoln, and we have a license with the Haisman Estate and the approval of Henry Lincoln. But yes, they are fan made, in that most of us involved in producing these books are fans, in the same way as the TV series is, the BBC novels are, and Big Finish’s output is.
Will there be eBooks?
Yes indeed. We’re even looking into setting a pre-ordering system for eBooks.
How will you do the back-story — in relation to the books and audios?
Our main point of reference will be the TV series. This is the only source we will go to great lengths to not contradict. There is not a great deal of back-story for Sir Alistair on television; most of what we have learned was revealed in all the novels and audio dramas produced since 1991. Now, it is a fact that much of the novels and audios conflict (as does a lot of the TV series, come to that), and it is generally considered (and stated in both respective mediums) that they take place in separate realities, both spun-off from the prime reality of the TV series. Our books will be no different. We spin-off from the television series and are set in that reality and will not contradict what we know of Sir Alistair from that medium, however there will almost certainly be echoes of the continuity established in the novels and audios, suggesting that certain events happen in all realities, although not always in the same way. A good example will be, in most of the books and audios it is accepted that Sir Alistair was born in 1930, and we see no reason to contradict that as it fits what we’re doing and it makes Sir Alistair around the same age as Nicholas Courtney. Of course, all this said, if fans wish to tie everything together, then they are most welcome to do so. After all, that is part of the fun of being a fan, trying to make everything fit. I do it, we all do it! But as professionals we can’t be bound by continuities outside of the TV series as to do so would only inhibit and constrict what we’re creating.
Will the UNIT dating issue be dealt with?
Not directly. We’re not dealing with UNIT, but we do detail the years leading to its formation and thus fit within a certain timeline. The guidelines make it clear, for the authors, in which year the series is set (initially, that is), but they have been expressly told not to state the year within the narrative. There will be clues, both subtle and not-so, for those who wish to work it out. But we won’t be directly tackling the issue. The UNIT dating issue has existed for so long now, where’s the fun in solving it?
Will the Doctor make an appearance?
Short answer; no. It’s not within our license to use anything owned by the BBC, and that especially includes the Doctor.
Will any other companions appear?
Again, no. There are a few companions not owned by the BBC, but to use them would almost certainly muddy the water.
Will it be the ’60s-’80s Brig and UNIT or the CyberBrig?
Neither. The announcement has made it very clear that we’re dealing with Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart directly following The Web of Fear. At this point he has only met the Doctor once. He has only dealt with an alien threat once. And his entire world view has been changed by this.
So, they were a few of the most asked questions (even the last one!), and these are the official answers. We’ll explore the behind-the-scenes more in the lead-up to the release of The Forgotten Son, but for now I hope this reaches you all well. If there are any more questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask.
The first four books (or the first, if you wish) be can be pre-ordered directly from Candy Jar Books. All pre-orders will be shipped at least a week prior to official release.
A little bit of insight on Nick’s book – the fourth of the first batch. Out next year.
Lethbridge-Stewart. The fellow you’d want on your side in any fight.
Back in the summer I was offered something big. Something very big and very exciting. I was not able to tell anyone about it, however, until now.
So, this is it: I am writing the ‘season finale’ in the first series of a new set of Doctor Who spin-offs featuring the adventures of the young Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, published by Candy Jar Books.
My first novel in ten years! (This was the last).
No, I can’t quite believe it either, but it’s real, as reported on Doctor Who News.
The first book, The Forgotten Son by series line editor Andy Frankham, is out in February 2015 (and I can say with all honesty it’s effin’ brilliant). Then, throughout the rest of the year, comes Lance Parkin’s Horror of Det-Sen and David A McIntee’s The Schizoid Earth…
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And finally I can reveal the secret behind Project Hush-Hush. Five months of secrecy and this is what it’s all about.
It’s with immense pride I’m able to announce that…
LETHBRIDGE-STEWART IS RETURNING
What follows is the official press release…
Every legend has a beginning, and for Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart it was in the London Underground.
Candy Jar Books is very proud to present Lethbridge-Stewart, a new series of novels revealing the untold story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart set shortly after the 1968 serial, The Web of Fear, fully licensed by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Mervyn Haisman’s granddaughter Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln.
The first series consists of:
- The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen
- Horror of Det-Sen by Lance Parkin
- The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee
- Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.
Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart has been an essential element of Doctor Who since 1968. He was created by authors Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln for the six-part Doctor Who serial, The Web of Fear. A one-off character. Until over a year later when he was brought back to Doctor Who, promoted to Brigadier and the head of UNIT. Forty-six years on and the Brigadier has become one of the most iconic characters in Doctor Who, having appeared with ten different Doctors in countless TV episodes, books, audio dramas and comic strips! The character’s death was acknowledged in the 2012 Doctor Who series starring Matt Smith, and was resurrected briefly in the 2014 series finale starring Peter Capaldi. On TV the character’s story is over, but there is so much more to tell.
Andy Frankham-Allen has been a Doctor Who fan since his childhood and serves as line editor for the series, as well as penning the opening novel. Andy is the former line editor of Untreed Reads Publishing’s series Space: 1889 & Beyond, and has penned several Doctor Who Short Trip stories for Big Finish and Candy Jar’s very own celebration of Doctor Who, Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants. He said: “It’s an insane privilege and responsibility to put this series together, to reveal the real story behind such a legend of Doctor Who.”
Lance Parkin has written over twenty books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1996, including the 35th Anniversary novel, The Infinity Doctors, and the 2008 Tenth Doctor novel, The Eyeless. He also worked on British soap Emmerdale and wrote Magic Words, the definitive biography of Alan Moore. Lance said: “Lethbridge-Stewart was always a steady presence in the Doctor’s life. Even in The Web of Fear, he instinctively trusted the Doctor from almost the moment he met him. I wrote for the character in The Dying Days, and that was the version of the Brigadier we all think of now, I think, an old soldier, semi-retired, seen it all. It’s been interesting writing for a younger, hungrier Lethbridge-Stewart – not even a Brigadier at this point in his life. It’s also been nice writing a story that’s set in the aftermath of The Web of Fear, with Lethbridge-Stewart only just starting to realise that the Earth’s facing a whole new type of enemy.”
David A McIntee has written novels for Star Trek, Final Destination and Space: 1999 and over fifteen books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1993, including the Brigadier-centric novel, The Face of the Enemy. David said: “To be honest it (the series) is something I’m amazed hasn’t been done before – it’s just such a natural and obvious thing. The form it’s taking is also cool because it has the flexibility to move between styles and genres – thriller, SF, horror, etc – while maintaining a definite identity. As for the Brig himself, he’s one of those characters where the casting was so perfect that it just made the character so memorable, and who (usually) feels so right.”
Nick Walters has written five novels for Doctor Who since 1998. Nick said: “After the Doctor himself the Brigadier is the best-loved character in Doctor Who. I met Nick Courtney a number of times and he really is a splendid fellow. He brought a real humanity and vulnerability to the role without compromising the essential toughness of the character. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is the chap you’d want on your side in a fight – any fight – and it is a real privilege to be exploring what made him into the character we came to know and love.”
Simon Williams, the man behind the cover art, is a former artist for Marvel UK having drawn for The Transformers, The Hulk, Spider-Man and Death’s Head. Simon said: “I’ve always been a big fan of Doctor Who and the Brigadier and having the opportunity to draw this iconic character is a huge privilege.”
Hannah Haisman said: “This project has been a long-time coming. I had to be certain that I was entrusting my grandfather’s legacy to a publisher and authors who would respect what he created. Candy Jar and Andy have assembled a team that are sympathetic to the Brigadier, and these are very exciting times that we can all be proud of.”
Lethbridge-Stewart will be launched on 22nd February 2015, the fourth anniversary of Nicholas Courtney’s death, the actor behind the Brigadier. The first series of novels will be released one book per quarter throughout 2015.
The Forgotten Son is available for pre-order from the Candy Jar Book store, where you can pre-order all four titles in the Four-Book-Bundle for a special discounted price. By pre-ordering directly from Candy Jar you ensure you’ll get your copy of each title a couple of weeks before official publication.
Now the ‘cat it out of the bag’, as Sir Alistair would say, I can talk about this series, and I will. Keep tuned for insights into the development of this series, and indeed the first novel, as well as discussions between me and the rest of the creative team behind the project. 🙂