Dr Who and Me

I think every generation has its favourite Doctor, for me it was Tom Baker. The floppy hair, the wild eyes and the huge smile all made him different and exciting. I even knitted myself the scarf, all nineteen feet of it. No sooner was it finished than my kid brother nicked it and refused to give it back. He wore it for years and still has it, packed away from the moth to be an heirloom for his son. (And he says I’m the insane one  in the family).

Back to Dr Who. If you read my blog post “The Black Bat of Night”, you will know that I was a winner in a short story competition run by SFX magazine. It was while I was still wandering around on cloud nine and telling complete strangers all about it, I got an email from a publisher called Big Finish, they published a series of anthologies of Dr Who stories. They had seen “Maud: A Garden Tale” (now included in my new book “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales“) and…


Would I?

What do you think?

In case you’re thinking this is fan fiction, you couldn’t be more wrong. To begin with there are copyright issues, you can’t legally publish anything using the Dr Who characters or the TARDIS without permission. Secondly there are rules, very strict rules about how you portray The Doctor and stricter ones about the sort of situations you can put him in and the relationships he has with his assistants.

It was also hard work, much harder than I thought it would be, because no matter how well you think you know a character, you didn’t create him and getting your head around how they think and react is tough.

I did a pitch, which they liked, with amendments and then I started to write. And stopped and bought half a dozen old Dr Who DVD’s, watched them and began again. It had been a while since I had seen any Dr Who and I was surprised how just how much I had forgotten.

For various reasons, the story also had to be set in New Zealand and as I’ve never been nearer to New Zealand than Cornwall, so I also bought several guide books. It looks really beautiful and maybe one day I will be able to go there and see for myself.

And as this was also a Christmas Collection, it had to have a seasonal feel, so I decided turkeys were needed and did a bit of research on them as well. Not very bright your average turkey, possibly what they had in mind when they came up with “bird brained”.

As you can see, 5,000 words can required a lot of work.

Any way, after some editing and a couple of very sensible changes suggested by the editor,  “Autaia Pipipi Pia” came out in the 2008 collection “Dr Who. Short Trips: Christmas Around the World.” I’m not going to tell you what that means, but I will say it’s Maori, or at least my idea of Maori.

Have a look in “Books” section here and you will see the glorious cover designed by Grant Kempster.

I thought that was going to be the end of this adventure, but there was one last treat to go. Tom Baker was a guest at Comic Con in 2009 and unknown to me, my kids went and took my copy of the anthology with them and Tom Baker was kind enough to sign it for me.

So that is the story of how I got to write a Dr Who story and see it in print. I still get a buzz when I catch a glimpse of the book on my shelf.









Custard Creams and Elementals

Yes, the last story in the collection, apart from “A Solemn Curfew”, and it really is called “Custard Creams and Elementals.”

First the biscuit versus cookie question. I am English, so I say biscuit and this gives me the option of biccie if I am feeling affectionate to a variety on offer. I also say biscuit barrel and not cookie jar.

Having cleared up that sticky problem, let us move on to custard creams.

These are my husband’s favourite biscuits, only chocolate bourbons running them a close second. I would rather put a cardboard and brick dust sandwich in my mouth.

So, when Marjorie had to chose what to feed her little captives, it had to be custard creams..

The picture is of nice  (biccies) biscuits.


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Water, Water, Everywhere

We are getting there, only one more story to tell you about after this. That person cheering at the back…I know who you are and there will not be cake for you later.

This one started out as a bit of flash fiction, but like Topsy it had a bit of a grow. If you chuck the following in a large bucket and give them a bit of stir…

  • Water, obviously, in this case the sea and some in fish tanks.
  • The man who lives upstairs
  • Assorted marine fauna
  • The girl with long curly hair who lives downstairs.

When well mixed, pour the whole thing out and you have “The Girl in the Water”





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Swans a Swimming


The next story in The Collection …I’ve started calling the new book a “collection” because someone has told me an anthology is multiple authors, not one. Who knows this stuff? Seriously, who looks at a book of short stories, puts a speculating finger to their chin  and asks “Is this an anthology or a collection?”

Anyway, or as one of my kids would say “whatever”…the next story is “Swan Song” and I’m going much darker here.

I have a friend who lives up in the fen country in Cambridgeshire. If you don’t know the area, it is ancient, full of history, low lying, flat and wet, very, very wet. The land is criss-crossed by deep channels full of still water and once upon a time, before the land was drained for farming, it was alive with reed beds, wild fowl, otters and fish, mainly eels.

It was and still can be an eerie place, the mists hang over the fields hiding the deep dikes from the unwary, but it has a beauty all its own.

“Swan Song” is set here, not now, but long ago in a time that might have been.

An old woman sits huddled by the fire to ward off the cold and damp and tells stories to her grandson of the birds and the other creatures of the marsh. None of it interests him until she tells him how the great white swans are mute only until death and how, in the final moments of life, they break their silence and sing.

From that time on, the only thing on his  mind is to hear the death song of a swan.


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New Collection

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

My new book, a collection of short stories, is now available to pre-order on Amazon. It’s an assortment of the dark and the weird and just occasionally, a laugh a minute.

A collection of eight dark fantasy stories. There is the small girl knows what is living at the bottom of the garden. And the woman who has no idea what is living in hers. The stranger upstairs who doesn’t know why the sea is important. And the woman next door who shouldn’t have been so busy. In the fens a boy longs to hear a swan sing its last. And in the dairy there is a problem cheese. A wife who just needs a good nights sleep and finally the ambitious vegetable chef toiling away in a castle kitchen thwarted at every turn.