April 20, 2017

THE CAVLETTER 009: The Shining Man plus top writers choose their favourite Doctor Who books


It's Doctor Who: The Shining Man publication day, which is extremely exciting.

I've been busy being interviewed for various websites (I'll post the links when they appear) and will be shining the novel at Forbidden Planet Bristol this Saturday, alongside Mike Tucker and Jonathan Morris. 

I also popped up on Radio Bristol at the weekend, talking about the things that make me happy with bestselling psychological thriller author C.L. Taylor on Dr. Phil's Happy Hour. Naturally, Doctor Who featured heavily. You can hear our chat on the BBC iPlayer, kicking off around the 1hr 9min mark

This evening, I'm appearing on Steve Le Fevre's Crunch This Week show on Made In Bristol TV. Tune in at 7pm to hear us talk about the book. 


This is a special newsletter in honour of The Shining Man. Every subscriber will be entered into a prize draw on 15th May to win a signed copy of the book. (Yes, that means you! The terms and conditions for the draw can be found here.)

Good luck!

I've also invited some of my writer friends to share their memories of the first Doctor Who book they ever read. For me, it was The Ark In Space by Ian Marter. I was hooked from the very first page and haven't looked back since. Let's see what the others say...
Mike Tucker, Author of Doctor Who: Diamond Dogs (also out today!)
I think it must have been Doctor Who and the Cybermen or Doctor Who and the Daleks. Both  amazed me as they introduced characters (including the Doctor) that were so different to the show I was watching. I can still quote lines from the 'creation of the cybermen' prologue!

And I love the Barnes common bit at the start of the Dalek book.
Jonathan Morris, Author of Doctor Who: Plague City (Yup, out today as well!)
It must be Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth. Wonderful, thrilling book, Doctor Who on the scale of an epic war movie, still my favourite novelisation.

I remember being very confused about a line about Ian ‘hoping against hope’. Still not sure what it means.
Nicholas Briggs, Voice of the Daleks and Big Finish Executive Producer
Doctor Who - In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks. Or Doctor Who And The Daleks, as it was called when it was re-released in 1973. That’s when I saw it. When I spied it in my local newsagents in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight (where I was living at the time), I was so excited, I actually felt sick. I couldn’t believe that something so brilliant could exist.

It’s such a beautifully written book. I love stuff that’s evocative of the time it was written in, and this book is so beautifully dated. The first person point of view also gives it a wonderfully claustrophobic feel. I remember being genuinely disturbed by this, the original and the best struggle to defeat the dreaded Daleks!
Iain McLaughlin, Author and comic writer
I bought Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster while on holiday in Inverness in that long, hot summer in 1976. I read the book more or less where it was set and I read it in a day. By the end of the holiday I had bought and read nine Doctor Who novelisations. That was the start of a life-long addiction to Doctor Who fiction, which continues today and will involve Cav's new book. The copy of The Loch Ness Monster which I bought all those years ago still sits on a shelf 6 feet behind me. I never forget the debt I owe that book.
Nick Abadzis, Writer of Titan Comics Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor
It was Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen. I think Tom Baker had just become the Doctor on TV, and I had dim memories of seeing The Three Doctors, which seemed in the impossibly distant past. But I remember loving Patrick Troughton's Doctor. My mum bought me this - she was busily encouraging me to read more "text" over comics, and this was the way. Terrance Dicks = literature. She said, "I thought you could start with one of the older Doctors first," and I recognised Troughton as the second Doctor which the little blurb inside confirmed - "The Changing Face of Doctor Who." I consumed this at a rate of knots, and the reward was more Doctor Who books, and just more and more books. Troughton remains one of my favourite Doctors and this remains one of my best-loved Target novelisations - I have a signed Achilleos print of the cover in my studio. 
Andrew Smith, Writer of Full Circle and sooo many fantastic Big Finish Audios
The first Doctor Who book I read was Doctor Who and the Cybermen, the Target novelisation of the TV story The Moonbase, written by Gerry Davis. It was one of three Target novelisations I bought in October 1975, aged 13, when I visited the Doctor Who Exhibition in Blackpool.  
The other two books I bought at the time were The Abominable Snowmen and The Giant Robot.  But as a keen fan of both the second Doctor and the Cybermen (by far and away my favourite Who monsters), it was an easy choice to decide which one I read first.  And I devoured it. I can't say I particularly noticed the style of writing at that age, but it was an exciting and compelling read, and it remains a treasured possession to this day.

That book, and those that followed (I built up my collection of Target books, buying each one on release), cemented my love for Doctor Who and the story-telling that it allowed.  I even immediately started 'novelising' the stories myself, from audio recordings of the TV broadcasts, alongside my own original story scribbling. Which is the best compliment I can pay Doctor Who and the Cybermen, and those other early Target novelisations - that reading them inspired me to write, and write a lot.
Paul Cornell, Novelist, Screenwriter and Comic Writer
Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters, which I borrowed from Matthew Trattles up the lane.  I hadn't seen the show.  During the prologue, I suddenly realised the characters *weren't human beings*. 

Mind blown.  Life changed.  Course decided.  
George Mann, Author of Newbury & Hobbes and many Doctor Who books, comics and audios
I’m afraid I can no longer remember the very first Doctor Who novel I read, but it was definitely a Target novel, in hardback, and borrowed from the local library. I went through a ton of them.

The one that most stayed with me was Doctor Who and the Daemons. It’s just my favourite Doctor Who story ever, in both mediums. It’s the perfect confluence for me, of all the things I love about the show, and I’ve always been a sucker for the ‘village-under-siege’ stories. I love how the book expands upon the scripts from the serial, introducing new scenes with Benton and Miss Hawthorne, giving characters surnames, and referring to the Doctor as ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve always loved that.  
Una McCormack, bestselling writer of Doctor Who and Star Trek novels
I have a very distinct memory, as a little girl, of sitting cross-legged on the floor in Eccleston Library, St Helens, in front of a long shelf of Target novelisations, reading from one end of that shelf to the other...  I can't remember which one came first (were they shelved by author? By story title? By transmission date?!), but the one that sticks out in my memory is The Day of the Daleks. I think my small cross-legged self liked the plotting of the time travel, the suspense of the countdown, and the romance of reading about the Third Doctor, whom I'd only once seen on screen... but that's another story.
Andrew Lane, Author of the Young Sherlock series (and All Consuming Fire, one of my favourite Doctor Who New Adventures!
The first Doctor Who book I ever read was - surprise! - the first ever Doctor Who book: the original edition of Doctor Who in an Exiting Adventure With the Daleks by David Whitaker. I found it in my local library, probably when I was about seven or eight (I was born in 1963 and it was first published a year later I believe). It was a hardback, with a reddish cover on which was a sketch of the First Doctor standing in a doorway. It opened doors for me that I never even knew existed. This was before any Who-related reference books, before the internet (obviously) and before the whole cultural effect of Doctor Who kicked in. I knew - vaguely - that there had been Doctors earlier than the Third, which is where I had started watching seriously, but I hadn't known anything about either the First Doctor or where the Daleks originated. This book told me - in exciting, quite adult, prose, and in the first person as if told by the Doctor's new companion - Ian Chesterton. Later I discovered that the meeting between the Doctor, Ian and his companion Barbara Wright as told in the book was fabricated by David Whitaker, and different from the one on TV, but you know what? I actually prefer it. And I think this book and its successor - Doctor Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton - are, hands down, the best Doctor Who books ever written.
Mark Wright, Author, Doctor Who Magazine comic writer and co-editor of Doctor Who: The Complete History
Oh well, that would be The Time Warrior by Terrance Dicks. My first exposure to Doctor Who fiction, all because my brother was a Liverpool fan. When he was taken to home games by my dad, I always got to pick a book from Fred Wade’s bookshop in Halifax, on my way with my mum to my grandma and grandad’s. And this paricular day I found a line of Doctor Who novels on a shelf. I still have strong memories of sitting in the enormous armchair at my grandma and grandad’s reading the book. A special time reading a book that changed my life, in the company of special people who are no longer here.
Adam Christopher, Novelist, comic-writer and author of The LA Trilogy (starring a hardboiled robot detective! What's not to love?)
If there is one book that practically defined my entire childhood, it is Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen by Terrance Dicks. I think the unique combination of historical setting, mysticism, and the nebulous, almost Lovecraftian menace of the Great Intelligence flicked a switch somewhere inside my seven-year-old brain. The particular way Terrance Dicks described the voice of the Great Intelligence as coming "from everywhere and nowhere" is still my favourite line ever - and I'm very glad it found it's way into the narrated soundtrack release!

Steve Cole, Bestselling author of the Young Bond novels and editor of the BBC's Past Doctor and Eighth Doctor novels 

My first was Revenge of the Cybermen by Terrance Dicks when I was five. I had to read the first page out loud to my mum in WH Smith before she would spend 40p on a book! Luckily, I was able to make up the words I couldn't read without her realising. Being able to live an adventure with the Doctor at my own pace - not having to wait for Saturday or autumn to come round - was the most amazing thing. 
I still get a shiver when I think of certain phrases in that book, like "when the last flesh was replaced by plastic". Of course I could never have imagined I'd end up commissioning Terrance to write new Who books 20 years later...
Rob Williams, Writer of Suicide Squad for DC Comics and Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor for Titan
The Shada novelisation, which I picked up in a charity shop somewhere (I forget). I liked it so much we had the 11th Doctor visit Shada in the second season of our Titan comic.
Guy Adams, Author, 2000AD comic writer and Big Finish Doctor Who scriptwriter
The first Doctor Who book I read was a Target novel. Because of course it was. Because I’m middle-aged. It was probably Four to Doomsday (but might not have been, the memory’s going, because I’m middle-aged). It was important though, vitally so, because, like all of the Target novels, and the countless original novels published since, it made Doctor Who even more a joint effort. Doctor Who thrived just as much, perhaps even more so, as a lovechild between words on a page and my imagination, as it did on screen. It took it out of the TV set and placed it in my head, where it’s lived ever since.
Scott Handcock, Writer, Script Editor, Director, and Producer
The first Doctor Who book I remember reading was Destiny of the Daleks. It was in the local library around the time of the 1992 repeats, and something about the cover drew me in. I borrowed it time and again - something about Terrance Dicks’s prose made reading addictive - and I ended up borrowing more of his books, not just Doctor Who, but Spitfire Summer and his other children’s books!

And, until being asked this question, I’d completely forgotten the following… but I loved his books so much, I drew pictures of all his characters, wrote him a letter, mailed it to the publisher, and received the most charming letter back from Terrance himself. I fell in love with him all the more for that moment of acknowledgement and encouragement. As a child, it meant the world. And all because of Destiny of the Daleks!
Matt Fitton, Big Finish scriptwriter and editor extraordinaire 
My very first Doctor Who books were Target novels handed down by my uncle in the mid-70s. I got the 1974 editions of Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion, which was the first one I read, followed immediately by Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters. For someone who'd only ever seen Tom Baker, it opened up the world of Doctor Who's past, and the action-packed prose (along with the exciting illustrations) described a scary and thrilling first adventure for a Doctor I'd never seen. The books now sit on my shelves amid my complete Target/BBC collection!
John Dorney, Award-winning Big Finish writer and actor
The first Doctor Who book I remember reading was The Abominable Snowmen novelisation, the one with the Tom Baker logo. I bought it in a shop in Buladelah, Australia, near the family home. I'd recently fallen for the second Doctor in a big way - from the Five Doctors and the Five Faces repeat of the Three Doctors - so this was my first chance to experience one of his original adventures, and I absolutely relished this great story, well told. It still holds a vast nostalgic fondness, the gorgeous Chris Achilleos cover being a huge favourite to the degree that I bought a copy of it at the cartoon museum's exhibition last year. It has pride of place in my office!
James Goss, Author and Producer
Doctor Who And The Visitation. Had no idea such a thing as a Doctor Who book existed until I saw it on a rotating rack outside a giftshop at Porlock Weir. I took it back and spent the next few days of the holiday reading it (possibly a dozen times). A few days later we went back to Porlock Weir. I was amazed to discover that there were, in fact, TWO Doctor Who books, and came home with And The Monster Of Peladon. Which I also read a dozen times. I still get a weird rush whenever I go back to Porlock Weir.
And there you have it. Has there ever been a series like the Target Doctor Who novelisations? Just look at the creativity they inspired - especially, it seems, The Abominable Snowmen! Thank you to all those wonderful folk for sharing their fond memories. Please do click on their names to check out their work. 


What about you? What was the first Doctor Who book you ever read? Is it still a favourite? Let me know and I can perhaps include it in an upcoming newsletter or blog. You can reply to this email, or find me on TwitterFacebook or via my website.

Don't forget to forward this newsletter to any friends who you think may enjoy it (they can then subscribe here) and GO AND FIND DOCTOR WHO: THE SHINING MAN!! 

(Sorry, got a bit excited there! You'll forgive me I'm sure.)

Happy times and places,