Writers can’t get enough of Dr Who this week. First, the new Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, was confirmed as the seventh author in Puffin’s series of 11, £1.99 ebooks to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the series.
The stories, each one about a different Doctor, are being released on the 23rd of each month until the 23 November anniversary, when the 11th Doctor will be the star. Blackman’s story (after contributions from Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott, Marcus Sedgwick, Philip Reeve, Patrick Ness and Richelle Mead) is called The Ripple Effect and will be published on 23 July. In it, the Tardis lands on Skaro, which has become a universal centre of learning, apparently populated by a race of peace-loving Daleks (is this another Blackman statement in support of libraries?).
As if this were not exciting enough, BBC Books has also announced that a number of top writers will each be creating “a 10,000-word adventure for their favourite Doctor”. Nick Harkaway, A L Kennedy, Jenny Colgan (below) and Trudi Canavan have already been confirmed, with Harkaway commenting that being asked to write a story for the new BBC Books’ Doctor Who digital series is equivalent to being asked to partner Penelope Cruz in a tango. But we know who will be even more excited, and who her favourite Doctor is. A L Kennedy lurves David Tennant. It is true. She told The Independent on Sunday in an interview, “I once inappropriately touched David Tennant in a shop because he had a familiar face”, recalling an episode when she saw him in Marks & Spencer just after watching him in Hamlet and momentarily thought that she knew him. “Very good!” she told him, and then recalled afterwards: “I’m an award winning novelist. He’s just nailed Hamlet. He turned Hamlet inside out and wore it as a hat. And I say ‘very good’!”
The publisher of the ebooks, which will start emerging late this year and then appear in a print collection in 2014, has not told Between the Covers what to expect from Kennedy’s story, but their press release does make reference to “romantic fiction”. Stand aside, E L James. Stop press: “A L Kennedy has actually chosen to write about Tom Baker”, we’re told. Weird.
One evening with Michael Frayn – the multi award-winning author of 11 novels as well as plays, translations, essays, travel writing and biography – is not enough, but it’s a good start. So, three cheers to the Bloomsbury Institute for scheduling an event with him at their literary salon on Thursday 25 July. Frayn will be in conversation with Geoffrey Colman at Bloomsbury Publishing’s headquarters in Bedford Square, London, and they’re offering two pairs of tickets for lucky Independent on Sunday readers to win. Just tweet @BloomsburyInst #michaelfrayn with the answer to the following question and explain (in the space of the same tweet – we’re sure that Mr Frayn would applaud your ability to be concise) why you would like to meet him. So the question is: who beat Michael Frayn to the 2002 Whitbread Prize with her biography of Samuel Pepys? Details of the event can be found at bloomsburyinstitute.com.