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Joy Wilkinson Reflects on Writing the Target Novelisation of The Witchfinders

Joy Wilkinson has described how she approached adapting her Doctor Who Series 11 episode The Witchfinders as a Target novel for the recent batch of novelisations.

She reveals that in her early years, it was horror books rather than Doctor Who books which floated her boat, and although she doesn’t refer to the classic 1968 film, perhaps helps explain the Witchfinder General feel to her story:

“Growing up, I was a horror nut and didn’t even see a Target novel until I moved to London and found Forbidden Planet. But I know what a beloved range it is with collectors at conventions hunting down rare editions and all the polls in my Twitter feed about which cover is best or a heated debate about logos. So much passion!”

The career of Clive Barker, the hugely successful writer of Hellraiser and many other books, was a key influence:

“There was a defining moment in my teens when I read Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart and realised that’s how Hellraiser happened, then hatched a plan to write novels so I could get to write a film… By turning my script into a book, I’ve done the Hellraiser plan backwards, which has a pleasing Doctor-yness about it.”

Interestingly, she says that the publishers were remarkably relaxed about what the approach should be to adapting The Witchfinders as a book:

“Nobody even said I had to put the whole episode in there, but I felt a responsibility to do that – rather like it’s a fixed point in time and I could riff on things in and around it, but not mess with the fundamental event. For me, it was about opening up what was already there, going deeper and wider, and not having to worry about pesky budgetary restrictions.”

My review of the novelisation for The Doctor Who Companion said the book “provides an effective retelling of the story as it played out on screen, whilst also taking the time to explore the events and characters in more depth… The Witchfinders is an enjoyable, thought-provoking start to the Thirteenth Doctor’s adventures in book form.”

Joy Wilkinson’s interview with Eddie Robson for Hero Collector is an interesting insight for anyone interested in the process of adapting an episode for the printed page.

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

Joy Wilkinson Reflects on Writing the Target Novelisation of The Witchfinders

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 2 min
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