A Target for Tommy – a Doctor Who fanthology


Coming soon from Obverse Books is A Target for Tommy – an unofficial “fanthology” of Doctor Who adventures to support Children’s writer/Who author/all-round decent bloke Tommy Donbavand.

Tommy is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer, leaving him unable to undertake the school workshops that provide a substantial part of his income. He’s been documenting his battle against cancer in this moving and painfully honest blog  which I urge you to take a look at.

Paul Magrs and Stuart Douglas had the idea of putting together a collection to show support and raise some funds to help out. A veritable cornucopia of writers have rallied round to provide stories. Here’s the full line-up:

Sharon Trezenga – Street of the Scream
Barry Hutchison – Curse of the Bog Women
Paul Magrs – Miss Hawthorne and the Alpaca of Doom
Andrew Hunt – The Triplet Impertinence
Sarah Hadley – Sweetie
Elton Townend Jones – The Blurred Man
iain McLaughlin – The Other Three Doctors
Lawrence Burton – The Time Wrestlers Edit
Andrew Hickey – The Bogeyman
Daniel Blythe – The Channel Hoppers
Kara Dennison – Doctor Who and the Viking
Andrew Lawston – Time War Cutaway
Nick Campbell – The Secret Keeper
Nick Wallace – 13 Synopses
Matt Bright – Eyebrows and Fish
Rachel Redhead – The Doctor and the Witch
Philip Ardagh – What the Who?
Philip Marsh – The Palace
Roy Gill – Deus ex Food Machine
Ian Potter – Leo Reflects
Simon Forward – Companions
Blair Bidmead – Significant Others
Stuart Douglas – Mapp, Lucia and the Lords of Time
Una McCormack – Directors Cut
Simon Bucher-Jones – The Ox Bow Train
Stewart Sheargold – Rock n Roll Alien
Paul Cornell – The Last Doctor
Steve Cole – Dr Who and the Mytex Power

The pleasure of collections like these is the chance to be a little playful – or as Matt Bright put it “to do whatever the hell you want and screw canon and ponderous self-importance”. I took the chance to write something  involving the original TARDIS team of Ian, Barbara and Susan.


1417018.jpgI first encountered this line-up in “Doctor Who and the Daleks” – David Whitaker’s brilliant novel adaptation of the original Dalek story. It was a much-read book for me as a kid, and I think for that reason they all seem to be very vivid and distinct characters in my imagination. Deus Ex Food Machine is an affectionate interlude that takes place between some of their adventures.  Here’s a tiny sample:

I sat on the couch in the TARDIS lounge, my fingers picking at the bindings on my leather gauntlets.

“Here, let me –” said Barbara.

I offered a smile of thanks.

The Doctor was as brisk and blithe as ever. For such an old man, it often seemed to me he recovered surprisingly quickly from our various trials and excursions. “I fancy we could all do with some dinner,” he announced. “Venusian Night Fish for me.”

“Of course, Grandfather.” Susan crossed to the food machine, and started tapping buttons.

“Wait a minute, child! I haven’t given you the code.” The Doctor drew a diary from his pocket and began to leaf through the pages. “No, no, no… Ah, yes! That is it. X L 4 2 8 5 J… Or could that be a ‘K’? Dear me. Whoever wrote this had the most appalling handwriting…”

Susan waited obediently. She had long since memorised the sequence for all the old man’s favourites, but she would never have hurt his pride by pointing that out.

“Whoever tied these knots,” said Barbara, picking away, “had the most devious technique possible.”

“That sounds about right.” I sighed and rubbed at the bristles on my chin. “I can’t wait to get cleaned up. My grooming has rather gone to pot these past weeks.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Barbara shot me a glance. “I think that beard rather suits you, Ian.”

“Oh yes, Mr Chesterton. Do keep it!” said Susan, her eyes glinting mischievously. “It’s absolutely fab!”

“Hmmm. Don’t think I can’t tell when I’m being teased…”

I sank back on the couch.

It had been another of the Doctor’s typical misadventures – and I was still recovering…

If this sample intrigues you,  please hurry over to Obverse and grab a copy! And if it doesn’t – surely one of the other brilliant stories will! So – what are you waiting for?



Dark Shadows 5oth – Blood and Fire

Teaser trailer and the first cast announcements for the Dark Shadows 50th anniversary special (wot I wrote) – Blood and Fire. And would you look at that line-up?


Lara Parker (Angélique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Patience Collins), Mitchell Ryan (Caleb Collins), Andrew Collins (Joshua Collins), Daisy Tormé (Abigail Collins), James Storm (Abraham Harkaway) and Jerry Lacy (Malachi Sands) with John Karlen (Alfred Loomis), Lisa Richards (Euphemia Spencer Stockbridge) & Christopher Pennock (Uriah Spencer Stockbridge) with more cast members to be announced…

Here’s the blurb from the Big Finish website:

“Some are born with magic, some acquire magic, and others have magic thrust upon them…”

The year is 1767. Young widow Laura Murdoch Stockbridge is to marry Joshua Collins, heir to the Collins fortune. Meanwhile, Joshua’s sister Abigail is in love with disreputable sailor Abraham Harkaway.

But the course of true love never did run smooth… especially when the witch Angélique Bouchard is around.

For Angélique has been sent back in time. And she has one mission…

To destroy the Collins family forever.

And here’s Dark Shadows producers Joe and Davy talking about their plans for the 50th anniversary in more detail, including some nice words from Joe on Blood & Fire:

 One of the highlights, for me, of 2016 so far was receiving Roy’s first draft of Episode One. The dialogue jumped off the page because it’s glorious. It opens with a woman arriving on the outskirts of town and, before you know it, she’s met a pirate and then we’re in a horse-drawn carriage as people travel to a big house for a wedding. It’s pure gothic romance and I love it.

…and if that’s got you interested, and you can’t wait till June, you could always have a quick Panic instead, as recommended here by Sue Cowley

‘Since joining Big Finish in 2015 and discovering the delights of Dark Shadows, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with Quentin Collins, and Panic sees him finally back home at Collinwood. In the aftermath of Bloodlust, the narrative deftly juggles some werewolfy family bonding and an impromptu cookery lesson to frame an unforgettable introduction to the formidable Lela Quick. It is hard to say much more about Panic without venturing into spoiler territory, but the casting of Susan Sullivan as Lela is inspired. She is every bit as awesome as you’d expect her to be, and the perfect foil to David Selby. (More please, Davy and Joe!)’

Dorian Gray – Angel of War

Big Finish have recently released details of a couple of projects I’m involved with.

First up, some cast and story hints for Angel of War  – my episode for the fifth and final series of The Confessions of Dorian Gray

‘The story itself is unlike any other we’ve told before,” explains [Producer / Director] Scott Handcock. “There’s an intensity that comes with the Great War setting. You’ve a responsibility to reflect the sheer horror of what went on there, and the impact it had on the men who found themselves fighting in the trenches. It’s the kind of story Roy excels at: claustrophobic, introspective, exploring the concepts of faith and hope at a time when both seem lost…’

The story features the return of Captain James Anderson (as played by the brilliant Dan Brocklebank) alongside guest stars Samuel Barnett (who, incidentally has just been cast in a new TV adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels) and Steven Cree.  The character of James previously appeared in my very first script for Dorian Gray and for Big Finish – The Prime of Deacon Brodie. It was a genuine privilege to be asked to revisit James and to be able to expand on and illuminate his relationship with Dorian (Alexander Vlahos) – and the terrible circumstances under which they meet.

I had a chance to visit the recording for Angel – there are a couple of pictures from this fab day above. It’s going to be sad to leave the world of Mr Gray behind – I’m sure there are more stories to tell – but I can also understand Scott’s and Alex’s reasoning for bringing the series to a close. I’ve loved being on board – and I’m so glad that Scott brought me into the world of Big Finish. I think scriptwriting plays to my strengths as a writer, and it’s great to be working with passionate, clever people who really understand how stories work!

More news in the next update…







A sneak preview of my story “Crackle” which features in the new Myriad Carnival anthology (edited by Matthew Bright) – out now in print and ebook from Lethe Press.




Episode 764: Straight Outta Collinsport

The Dark Shadows Every Day blog dissects “Panic” with their customary wit and verve. I’m really thrilled with this review – totally gets what I was trying to do with “Panic” (and gives a well-deserved shout out to the brilliance of David Selby + Susan Sullivan)

Dark Shadows Every Day

“The sensible option isn’t always the most interesting.”

When you get right down to it, what is a Dark Shadows story, anyway?

A couple months ago, I passed the blog’s halfway point, which means there’s now more Dark Shadows behind me than there is ahead. I mean, we’ve stll got plenty of time — it’s only 1969, and what does time really mean anyway — but it makes me start to wonder about what happens when there’s no more Dark Shadows.

One thing that I know for sure is that trying to retell the story over again is a bad idea. They’ve tried three times — the failed 1991 show, the failed 2004 pilot, and the failed 2012 movie — and there’s just no point to it. This is a story that can only be told once, and it’s not like it even made that much sense the first…

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Street Spirit by Roy Gill

Ended up writing a new Parallel short story for the Author Allsorts blog. Set after the events of Werewolf Parallel, readers of my books may recognise a location and character…


Scott and Forceworthy
6.45 PM

Fifteen minutes to closing.

I could shut up early, but I know the old man wouldn’t be pleased. “It’s enough time for a cut,” he’d say. “Enough time to trim the sides of a baldy old geezer like me.”

“Yeah, and baldy old guys only pay three pounds,” I’d argue, and he’d point out that all those three pounds add up, and if they didn’t, we’d be out of a job.

So I hold on, twiddle the radio dial away from moody 90s rock to something less depressing, look out into the Edinburgh night…

There’s a scrabbling scraping sound, something previously masked by Thom Yorke’s wailing. I ignore it at first. Asif’s Barbers is on the ground floor of a tenement. It’s an old, old building. It’s not unusual to hear clunks and groans. We’ve got neighbours above, to the sides, below –


Scratch, scratch.

Like claws…

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Welcome Home, Bernard Socks!

12188901_10153135005221232_481422439689300254_nThis past week I’ve been reading Paul Magrs’ Welcome Home, Bernard Socksthe sequel to last year’s Story of Fester Cat.This second volume of memoir feels like a return visit to old friends: it’s just as vivid, warm and compulsively readable. Once again, we encounter Paul scribbling away in his garden den, Jeremy rambunctiously righting wrongs, and a distinctive feline companion that helps bind their lives together in their cosy book-filled home…

Bernard Socks turns out to be a very different character to his predecessor, Fester (who nonetheless keeps an affectionate and sometimes exasperated eye on proceedings, narrating from sidelines). Picked from a rescue centre – whose staff and inhabitants are well described by Magrs’ vivid pen strokes – Socks is a bundle of energy, combative and adventuresome. One of my favourite sections of this book is the wild chase Socks leads Paul and Jeremy on across their neighbourhood: scrambling over gardens and up scaffolding until he finally becomes embroiled in a Midsummer carnival attended by cats both present and long since departed. It’s one of those characteristic imaginative leaps from the everyday into the fantastic that I know will delight readers of Paul’s work.

Where this volume differs from the previous memoir is, I think, the tone is perhaps in places a little darker. Fate deals the boys some cruel blows: there’s the loss of an old friend and corresponding thoughts on memory and family, and a builder’s accident which leads to the wrecking of much of Paul and Jeremy’s home. The Story of Fester Cat was a celebration of a life and also a story of healing after the loss of a beloved pet – I get the impression that this time round wounds are still a little fresh, and challenges ongoing. Of course, all of this makes me eager for a third volume – not only so I can spend a little longer in their world, but also because I want to know everything is going to be all right. Bernard Socks has arrived – let’s see where he takes us next!

Festivals and shadows…

WP_20150826_18_47_39_Pro__highresSummer is drawing to a close, and I thought I’d take a moment to update my blog on a couple of things I’ve been up to…

It was a big thrill to appear alongside Paul Magrs at a sell out Edinburgh International Book Festival event. We read from our most recent novels – Werewolf Parallel for me and Lost on Mars for Paul – talked about fantasy fiction versus science fiction, our favourite childhood books and the pleasure of re-reading and much, much more. I think we could’ve spoken for another hour very easily!

WP_20150826_19_19_44_Pro__highresWP_20150826_19_37_25_Pro__highresIt was great to chat to people afterwards, and I was especially pleased when several of Paul’s fans and readers said they were going to give my novels a go too – and indeed vice versa. I’ve always thought that this was what these sort of team-up events should be about, really — kind of like going along to a gig, discovering you like the first act, and buying their CD at the interval…

Here’s a smashing write-up from the ever diligent Bookwitch and one from Laura who has been a twitter pal for a while and came along to say hello and get her ‘werewolf’ signed…

I also had a chance in August to meet up with fellow Dark Shadows writers Rob Morris and Will Howells and Big Finish producer Joe Lidster. We recorded a podcast discussing the process of writing this year’s audio dramas PANIC (by me!) and THE CURSE OF SHURAFA (by Rob) , the late director Lela Swift, Dorian Gray, Edinburgh, the Dark Shadows Every Day blog and, of course, bacon. Or was it French Toast?

You can find the podcast below – and it’s also available as a MP3 to download or via iTunes.  I hope it’ll be of interest – there’s plenty of clips throughout (including an excerpt from the Daemon Parallel audiobooks) so there should be something to intrigue you, even if you’re not (yet!) a Dark Shadows convert.

Running a workshop on creating fantasy fiction for the Advanced Higher Creative Writing Conference – my fourth year as a tutor! – kicked off September. A great bunch of students as always – and lovely to catch up with Kirkland Ciccone (the brains behind this year’s inaugural Yay!YA+ event).

I’m now working hard on projects new – one of which at least should be released next year. My next writer credit to go out will be the opening episode of The Confessions of Dorian Gray: Season 4 – “The Enigma of Dorian Gray”. Mr Gray himself seems keen — which is a relief, you really don’t want to annoy these capricious immortals — and I hope you will be too, but you’ll need to wait till November to find out what he’s on about…

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 17.46.31Catch you later!

Edinburgh Book Festival, Iris and Dorian…

tumblr_nprybu7K4I1tuhgb2o1_1280Some updates regarding what I’ve been working on – and what’s coming up.

Pretty damn pleased to be appearing at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival (Aug 26 18.45). I’ll be in conversation with Paul Magrs – a writer I’ve long admired – and we’ll be talking about inventing other worlds and the influence of classic kids lit and Doctor Who on our work… and that’s just for starters. Tickets go on sale 23 June – here’s a link to the event. Hope you’ll come and see us!

That same month – by pleasing co-incidence – sees the release of Iris Wildthyme: Reloaded. It’s an exciting new series of adventures for trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme (Katy Manning AKA Jo Grant from Doctor Who). I’ve written an episode entitled Oracle of the Supermarket. I’ve consulted the mystical powers of the Oracle, and – – – you’ll need to wait till August to find out more!

iris05_wildthymereloaded_1417sq_cover_largeNovember 2015 sees the much-awaited release of The Confessions of Dorian Gray – Series 4 for which I’ve contributed the season opener The Enigma of Dorian Gray. Details are currently closely under wraps, but I can share this picture from the recording (left -> right actors Sakuntala Ramanee, Anthony Howell, Alexander Vlahos – – and me!). It was a real thrill to watch this talented bunch bring my words to life, courtesy of producer/director Scott Handcock. tumblr_noy8of2cvP1tuhgb2o1_1280Finally, last month’s Dark Shadows: Panic (starring David Selby and Susan Sullivan – see blogs below for more) continues to pick up some lovely feedback from listeners, and even made an appearance in the Amazon.com audiobook horror charts, nestling rather appropriately between Night Vale and Stephen King!tumblr_npq1e5yYB41tuhgb2o1_1280