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Thursday, July 7, 2016

BOOK: "A Target for Tommy," a new charity anthology for Doctor Who fans

I've written a Doctor Who.

Well, not officially. But for an extremely good cause.

My readers will probably be at least passingly aware of one Tommy Donbavand: Doctor Who book writer, creator of Scream Street, and all-around cool dude. Sadly, Tommy was diagnosed recently with cancer and has been undergoing a painful and difficult treatment. As of the time of this writing he recently completed it, but is back in hospital with complications (ETA: he was released today!). The stress physically, emotionally, and financially means he has been unable to provide for his family with speaking engagements and book signings and the like.

A few months ago, Stuart Douglas and Paul Magrs of Obverse Books sent a Facebook message around to several of us, saying they planned to do a charity fanthology to raise funds for Tommy and his family. Our job? Write our 'dream Doctor Who story.' I found myself neck-deep in a list of impressive writers and contributors, and I was pleased and honoured at the opportunity to help Tommy and have a go at writing.

The story I ended up sending was an idea I've been sitting on for a while now, and one that ties rather closely to my family. It involves the Twelfth Doctor, an undercover agent, and two Vikings.

No, no. Not that kind of Viking.

This kind of Viking.
Long-time readers of my blog will know that my grandfather was a troubleshooter for NASA's Viking mission. Using him as a primary source, I sent 12 and Clara on a trip to Denver in 1975 to visit NASA headquarters and uncover the source of a mysterious signal emanating from the Viking 1 lander.

The story is titled 'Doctor Who and the Viking'... and that was my placeholder name because I'm terrible with titles. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised it sort of worked. The anthology has a distinct and deliberate Target vibe, and it's a very Target-y title. Not only that, I sort of ended up writing a Third Doctor story starring the Twelfth Doctor, all things considered. So when it came time to send it along, I figured the title as it stood was just fine. (Plus I enjoy that it's a tiny bit deceptive.)

It took a lot of work to line things up scientifically, historically, and with the Extended Universe. Considering who's on board in this anthology, I was not about to ignore the Doctor Who books and audios that stated that the UK got missions up to Mars well before the US ever did. For the rest, I consulted my grandfather. He answered everything from 'What was the weather like' to 'How did you conduct certain tests' to 'Where could you hide a doomsday device on this lander.'

I won't go into the story too much -- it's a decidedly short trip, so saying more than a little would give a lot away. I can say, though, that my grandfather is also present in the story... by his absence. It may only be funny to me, but the basis of the whole plot even happening is the Doctor replacing my grandfather as troubleshooter. Which, fortunately, my grandfather enjoyed the idea of.

There are many, many more stories featuring Doctors, companions, and monsters from all across the history of the show. And it's going to be an amazing book, with people like Paul Cornell, Una McCormack, and Paul and Stuart themselves contributing. (Fans of Big Finish and the EU will see a lot of familiar names.) Please, if you would, do pick up a copy. Or three.

Preorder A Target for Tommy from Obverse Books.

Visit TommyVCancer.com for more about Tommy Donbavand.