Candy Jar Books’ Lethbridge-Stewart range ends this year with quite a surprise: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is sent to prison for destroying a rural English village!
Mind of Stone by Scottish author, Iain McLaughlin sees the return of fan favourite, Captain Knight from The Web of Fear, and is due to ship later this month, so fans get something great to read over the Christmas holidays.
Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, enthuses:
“I thought it would be great idea putting Lethbridge-Stewart in prison, so it was a lot of fun to finally read the book (by the time I read them, at the formatting stage, these books are fully written). It was just as I hoped it would be. It combines the tough storytelling of The Sweeney, with comedy elements of Porridge. Iain has really done a fantastic job on this book, bringing some much-needed comedy touches to the Brigadier’s time inside.”
Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen adds:
“This was a fun story to break. The idea of Lethbridge-Stewart serving time in prison came from Shaun; it was of the earlier ideas we discussed. I personally wanted to bring back both Captain Knight and Colonel Pemberton, who have both been mentioned several times in the series. Indeed both have appeared in some of our short stories, so it was nice to bring them into the novels properly. I approached Iain after he was recommended by a friend, although I was aware of his work I had forgotten he’d written for the Brigadier back in 2004. Iain was up for it, and took on board the small ‘shopping list’, building a very solid story from the initial ideas.”
Indeed, you’ll recognise Iain McLaughlin’s name as having worked for Big Finish; over a decade ago, he co-wrote two scripts for the audio company’s UNIT series, both of which featured Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier. He says:
“That was an absolute joy. It was an older, wiser but always resolute Brig. Passing years hadn’t diminished his sense of duty or his willingness to risk everything to do what needed doing and do what was right. Writing those scripts was as big a buzz for me as writing for the Doctor. Hearing Nick be complimentary about how we had handled the Brig was one of the happiest moments of my career. Writing a younger version of the Brigadier was something I had pondered, but I didn’t see how I could do it… until news of the Lethbridge-Stewart books came along. When I had the chance to pitch I jumped at it, just for the chance to spend some time with a character who feels like an old friend.”
His Doctor Who debut, however, came in 2001, introducing the Fifth Doctor’s companion, Erimem in The Eye of the Scorpion. Since then, he’s written several audios for Big Finish, as well a novel called The Coming of the Queen, regaling the origin of Erimem. Just last year, he launched his own Doctor Who spin-off series, based on the further adventures of Erimem.
Of Mind of Stone, McLaughlin continues:
“I wanted the book to start with a bang – and so we go straight into the Brig being sent to jail. From there… well, life inside Britain’s prison system wasn’t easy. I’d read about Wormwood Scrubs having been used as a military installation during WW2 and that helped me shape the story and plan how it would unfold. Using the Scrubs made me think of TV and films from the ‘60s and ‘70s that had a real edge. McVicar, Get Carter, Target, The Long Good Friday… suddenly the Brig in jail had some edge, and it was the kind of situation we’d never seen him in before. But he’s clever and he’s resourceful… the Brigadier isn’t Colonel Blimp. He’s a damned good soldier, and he’s a dangerous man in the right situation. I hope that’s the Brig you see in this book. As an outline it went through a few revisions, as most books do. But through the writing and the rewriting, the joy at the heart of it is the Brigadier having new adventures. Taking this wonderful character, putting him in situations he needs to resolve and writing dialogue people will read in Nick’s wonderful, rich voice… that’s an honour and a pleasure. Nick and the Brigadier? Splendid fellows, both of them.”
The cover of Mind of Stone is by regular cover artist, Colin Howard, who also recently produced the cover for the animated DVD of The Power of the Daleks. Colin says:
“I really enjoyed bringing Captain Knight to the fore, as I particularly like the performances that actor Ralph Watson brought to both The Web of Fear and Horror of Fang Rock, and he deserves such a homage. Andy knows my strength, and gave me a brief that really brings out the best in me.”
The foreword, meanwhile, is by former Doctor Who script editor, close friend of the Brigadier’s co-creator, Mervyn Haisman, and Fury from the Deep writer, Victor Pemberton! He is, of course, who Colonel Pemberton is named after.
Here’s the blurb for Mind of Stone:
‘You will be taken from this court and remanded in custody until your trial.’
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has been remanded to Wormwood Scrubs Prison, and his team have no idea why. Secrecy surrounds his case, but his team barely have a chance to process anything before they are sent on a mission to Egypt.
Why does it seem like Lethbridge-Stewart is going out of his way to court trouble from the prison’s most notorious inmates?And what does it have to do with well-known gangster Hugh Godfrey?
In the Ptolemaic Museum of Cairo, Anne Travers and her team are trying to uncover the mystery surrounding some very unusual stone statues. Statues that resemble those held in a secure military facility in Berkshire.
One thing connects these events; the mysterious cargo transported by Colonel Pemberton, and Captain Knight in August 1968.
The novel is expected to ship in mid-December.
You can pre-order it individually, or as part of the Series 3 Bundle (both UK and overseas), which includes the previous novels, Times Squared by Rick Cross, and Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward, or the subscription deal which offers six books for the price of five. Candy Jar is also offering a special promotion for its online customers: buy Mind of Stone for £8.99 and get Blood of Atlantis for just £5. This promotion also applies to six other Candy Jar titles.
Lethbridge-Stewart: Mind of Stone is available to pre-order now from Candy Jar Books, priced £8.99.