The next UNIT book from Candy Jar will be even larger than previously announced — as the publisher has revealed a further four new short stories for UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories!
Range Editor, Tim Gambrell, has recruited some tried and tested hands, in John Peel and Chris Lynch, as well as two writers new to Candy Jar.
Tim explains the thinking behind the changes:
“I love situations like this, because they focus everyone’s creative energies. It started with a quick conversation with Shaun Russell just before Christmas. Shaun felt we needed to add a bit more value for our readers, and I was keen to make sure we weren’t just replicating the (successful) formula of the Lethbridge-Stewart HAVOC Files books. So, the collection has expanded from 9 stories to 13. But we didn’t want to delay the publication, as it had already been announced for pre-orders, so I had to work quickly.”
Tim turned first to John Peel, a regular contributor to the Lethbridge-Stewart and Lucy Wilson Mysteries ranges for Candy Jar, who had most recently penned (with Tim) the first Benton Files book.
“What are a writer’s second-favourite words to hear? Would you like to write me a story about…? (The writer hopes that they are attached to his absolute favourite words: Here’s an inordinately large amount of money, but they so rarely are!) So, when I was asked, Would you like to write a UNIT story, with dinosaurs in it?, how could I refuse? (As you can see, I couldn’t.)”
John explains further:
“Then came the inevitable dance of what the editor liked and what I felt happiest writing. “Would you include this?” “Can I use that instead?” That continued until we were both comfortable. Then it was time to buckle down and do the actual writing – which, for the writer, is where the fun really begins. Getting into the mood, resurrecting beloved characters and doing horrible things to them…”
“I had an idea for a story to act as a coda to Invasion of the Dinosaurs. John, being the great writer he is, turned that on its head and came up with Here We Go Again, set just before Invasion of the Dinosaurs! However, Ian Ball – who is the second of three new writers in the collection – ran with some of the ideas I’d pitched to John, while developing some threads set up in Here We Go Again. Ian has written The Ptower Bridge Pterror, so we’ve ended up book-ending Invasion of the Dinosaurs.”
The next story in Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is Honourable Discharge by Chris Lynch – who recently wrote the free Lucy Wilson Christmas download story, The Gray Lady of Martyr’s House.
“It’s simple. When UNIT calls, you answer! Honestly, what writer could resist the chance to craft their own corner of this world and leave a footprint in the sand next to the Brig? For my story I wanted to explore what happens in the aftermath of a UNIT adventure, the price paid by ordinary soldiers who defend Earth alongside the extraordinary heroes we know about, and what happens when one of them doesn’t quite measure up to the high standards we expect. It’s a little dark, a little weird, but hopefully a part of the world of UNIT you’ll enjoy discovering.”
“Chris immediately came back with a cracking idea that put the Brigadier centre stage. It felt like I’d lit the blue touch paper – he produced the goods really quickly! As with John’s and Ian’s stories, I was also able to ensure some minor continuity between Chris’ Honourable Discharge and Martin Parker’s Old Fowlkes’ Home.”
Martin is the third new name in Operation Wildcat and Other Stories. He had pitched a story for the Lethbridge-Stewart range, which was unused. It became clear the story could be adapted relatively simply to work as a UNIT story instead.
“It’s not always easy to adapt stories in this way. You’ve got two choices, basically: you adapt / re-write as you go along, leaving alone what already works – which can be fiddly and frustrating, or you put aside everything you’ve already written and start the piece again from scratch. Neither option is necessarily any quicker to deliver. But there was a lot I liked about the story as it was, and I was keen not to lose that. So, I encouraged Martin to concentrate on the aspects we agreed needed wholesale re-writes.”
“It’ll be great to get my story out there with readers. It’s a bit longer than the others in the collection, I think, but we’ve worked to keep it tight and focused. I had to learn not to be precious about the story as it already was. Best of all, I can imagine it being on TV. I think when you’re writing material like this, with established characters, that’s the most important thing – to be able to picture it easily in your head. I hope the readers will, too.”
The story line up for The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is as follows:
- Benton’s First Day: Part 1, by Tim Gambrell
- Norwegian Would, by Simon A Brett
- Shadow, by Iain McLaughlin
- Operation Wildcat, by Sarah Groenewegen
- The Gift, by Sharon Bidwell
- Parasite, by James Middleditch
- How to Negotiate with a Sentient Tree in Shoreditch, by Baz Greenland
- The Aftermath of Aberbuwch, by Jonathan Macho
- Here We Go Again, by John Peel
- The Ptower Bridge Pterror, by Ian Ball
- Honourable Discharge, by Chris Lynch
- Old Fowlkes’ Home, by Martin Parker
- Benton’s First Day: Part 2, by Tim Gambrell
The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is available to pre-order now, exclusively from Candy Jar.
It comes with an art card and a free copy of The Benton Files 2, with new stories by George Ivanoff and Kenton Hall. The Benton Files 2 can also be ordered separately.