An Interview on Publishing Doctor Who Books
|conducted by Sandy Auden|
Doctor Who may have faded from our TV screens but it seems that you can't keep a good Time Lord
down. The sheer weight of his popularity has made it easy to continue with Doctor Who stories in a different media -- novels.
Now, in a new venture, the existing range of original BBC novels has been enriched with the release of some high quality novellas that are adding exciting new dimensions to the Doctor Who ethos. Behind these books, by Telos Publishing Ltd, are two of the UK's leading Who historians, David Howe and Stephen James Walker.
'We want to publish stories that challenge everyone's expectations,' Howe revealed. 'Books that are entertaining, with something to say. We want to remain open to different approaches, and don't feel constrained by having to follow series continuity if we are presented with an idea which works well outside it. Ultimately it's our intention to present good fiction and that is uppermost in our minds at all times.'
The Telos series opened with Time and Relative, a chilling tale from award-winning film critic and author Kim Newman. Citadel of Dreams was penned by experienced Doctor Who novelist Dave Stone. The range continues with Nightdreamers from fantasy author Tom Arden.
'For our first titles,' Howe explained, 'we've tried to mix a few styles and ideas together. Kim's novella is a superb start, as it returns to the literal roots of the television series and presents a new spin on the characters and their motivations, all of which are wholly consistent with what we know from the TV series. Dave Stone's book is an adventure set simultaneously in two time zones, and is an audacious piece of writing.'
Stone's Citadel of Dreams is set in the city-state of Hokesh, where time is playing tricks; the
present is unreliable, the future impossible to intimate. A derelict street child, Joey Quine, finds
himself subject to horrifying visions and fugues. His only friend in this, the only one to whom he can
turn for help, is a mysterious stranger who calls herself Ace. And in an unknowable future the Doctor is
busily inciting a state of bloody unrest, on the basis that one must be cruel to be kind.
While Citadel is far from being Dave Stone's first Doctor Who story, it is, he said,
While Citadel is far from being Dave Stone's first Doctor Who story, it is, he said,'my first work published in the novella form, as opposed to a short story which didn't know when to stop. I thought that with the relatively low word count it would be easy. I thought that!' But the flexibility of the Who universe keeps him coming back regardless. 'One of the greatest aspects of Doctor Who,' he mused, 'is that there's room in it for almost any genre: western; historical romance; science fiction drama and so on. In the same way, if there's room in Who for any genre, there's room in any format for Doctor Who -- as the original novels have self-evidently proved. A novella, on the other hand, is a different manner of beast. It's shorter, tighter, and in many ways ideally suited to Doctor Who.'
Tom Arden's Nightdreamers follows hot on the heels of Citadel. Arden's favourite Who has always been Jon Pertwee, so he didn't find it difficult to come up with a plotline featuring the third Doctor and his companion Jo Grant.
'I'd just finished writing The Orokon,' Arden said. 'It was a very long and involved fantasy series, so I was keen to do a simple, straight-ahead story. For some time I'd been toying with the idea of a short novel that took place over a single night, with lots of weird goings-on in the small hours, and the whole situation resolved by dawn. I wanted to try a science fantasy book that would have the same structure, and elements, as Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. All this was going round in my head when I was approached to do the novella, so suddenly I saw the possibility of a Doctor Who version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare is a fantastic inspiration for science fiction and fantasy writers, you know, lots of crazy royals and weird magic.'
Telos Publishing's openness to all sorts of creative inspiration is evident in the stories that have been chosen. 'I want to publish books which make people think,' Howe said, 'which bring new ideas and concepts into the Doctor Who arena. It may be a tall order, but as long as the BBC are willing to okay the books, I hope it's going to be an entertaining journey for anyone who comes with us.'
(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)
Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.
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