Thursday, 27 August 2015


Following last year's success, the Candy Jar Book Festival returned to Cardiff last week, bringing with it a boatload of books, a sprinkling of signings and incredibly (though fleetingly) the sun. Opening on Saturday 8th of August with an appearance by World War Two veteran and author of One Woman's War Eileen Younghusband, the festival wrapped up on the 19th with Andy Frankham-Allen's appearance at Rhydypennau library. Thank you to everyone who came to say hello and to the good people behind the Cardiff Summer Market. Here's to next year!

Thursday, 6 August 2015


We are delighted to announce that Candy Jar Book Festival is returning for 2015!

Following the success of the inaugural event last year, we will be re-launching the week-long book festival in the Cardiff City Centre between the 8th and 15th August.

The festival will once again take place in our book shed on the Hayes, which is situated in the centre of Cardiff (near House of Fraser). Events will additionally be taking place in nearby locations such as The Forbidden Planet, Rhydypennau, Cardiff Story Museum and Cardiff Central Library.

A wide range of events have been organised for your enjoyment, including book signings, author readings and literary focused discussions. All ages are welcome to attend, with events catering toward both younger and older audiences. Children can enjoy an enlightening discussion on space, join Jane Cohen in the ‘Wormiverse’ or talk time-travel with shortlisted author Anthony Ormond, whereas adults can alternatively marvel at the first-hand divulgences of a WWII veteran. Whovians will particularly delight in meeting Andy Frankham-Allen, author of the first book in the brand new Lethbridge-Stewart series and his compendium of Doctor Who assistants: Companions.

To view the festival’s complete schedule, please click the following link:

Avid readers and aspiring writers of all ages; we welcome you to come down and say hi. We look forward to seeing you!

Hannah Frank

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


In this day and age, it is virtually impossible to run a business without a website. It's a vital communication tool which enables your customers and clients to engage with your products or services – a shop window that's available 24/7, world-wide.

So what do you put on your website? Some text, a few photos maybe ... but is that enough?

It used to be, but not anymore. Video has now become an essential component of any self-respecting website. Here's the top five reasons why you need to make use of video – now!

1. Video makes your website 'sticky'
People are more likely to stick around if they see a video on your site. They'll watch the video and be more inclined to browse a bit longer.

2. Video encourages customers to buy your product or service
Because visitors are more likely to stick around, they're more likely to buy from you. If you have an online shop, video will help drive them to it and spend some money!

3. Video helps your Google rating
If you upload your video to YouTube, you'll benefit from the fact that YouTube is owned by Google. Google wields great power when it comes to search engine rankings and having video content from YouTube will do wonders for your site's Search Engine Optimisation.

4. Video improves your reputation
A well-produced video will show that you're serious about what you do. Making use of real people (ie you!), will demonstrate to customers that you actually are a real person – and people much prefer to buy from human beings.

5. Video transcends international borders

The beauty of video is that the visuals can be enough to communicate a message. You don't need to pay for expensive translations, just let the video do the talking.
Candy Jar Films is part of the Candy Jar Group:


Wednesday, 17 June 2015


Candy Jar Books is delighted to announce the release of Princess Phoebe Meets the Tudors, the first children’s book by Sammy Winward. Having starred in the ITV soap Emmerdale for fourteen years, Sammy’s character left the show in dramatic fashion earlier this year. Since her exit, Sammy has been busy pursuing her long-standing interest in history. The result is Princess Phoebe, which follows the adventures of the eponymous princess as she travels through time meeting her illustrious ancestors.

The character of Princess Phoebe is dedicated to Sammy's own real-life princess – her ten-year-old daughter, Mia. Inspired by Mia's’s interest in tales of princesses of the past, Sammy’s book explores the lives of the Tudor Queen's Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I. With the help of her mother’s magic book, Phoebe travels back to meet these figures and learn their stories. Sammy hopes that the strength and dignity of these characters has some important lessons for the modern girl. She said, “All girls love Disney movies, but there is another side to being a princess. I have always worried that, particularly as young females, we are brought up on a rich diet of fairy tale princesses whose single destiny seems to be that of meeting a handsome prince and living happily ever after. I have tried to do something very different, while still retaining the magic of these stories.” Educational and inspiring, Princess Phoebe shows that female empowerment is not just a modern day phenomenon, and teaches how it's not our circumstances that define us, but our actions.

Beautifully illustrated by Eric Heyman, Princess Phoebe Meets the Tudors was released on the 4th June 2015. To promote its release, Sammy has appeared on talk shows such as This Morning, and in OK! magazine and The Radio Times. Unable to fully leave acting behind, Sammy has also announced that she will be joining the cast of the hit ITV series Prey. She will be starring alongside Rosie Cavaliero and Philip Glenister in the second series.

Princess Phoebe Meets the Tudors by Sammy Winward retails at £6.99 and is currently available to order here.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Yesterday Eileen and Hayley travelled up through part of the beautiful Brecon Beacons to attend the famous Hay Festival. Hay is renowned for its commendation of great writing. Poets, scientists, lyricists, comedians, novelists and environmentalists worldwide gather together to host talks on their innovative publications. The exchanging of views and collaboration of ideas has earned Hay Festival the label of ‘the Woodstock of the mind’. During May 2015, well-known writers and personalities such as Stephen Fry, Bear Grylls, Malorie Blackman and Michael Morpurgo were invited to join the literary celebrations as well as Candy Jar Books’ very own Eileen Younghusband.

Ninety-three year old Eileen was incredibly honoured and humbled to be invited to talk at the prestigious festival and even got bumped up to the largest tent on site. She was interviewed by the Telegraph’s, brilliant Martin Chilton and they had a great long chat about her extraordinary life in front of a captive audience. Eileen had a wonderful time and would like to thank all those who attended.

Eileen Younghusband talking to Martin Chilton at Hay 2015

Hannah Frank

Friday, 15 May 2015


Candy Jar author Anthony Ormond has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize. Judged by the public, the competition is open to all published authors.

Anthony is incredibly passionate about children’s literature, and with his book proving popular with young readers, Anthony is thrilled to be short-listed. He said: “It's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and I hope people vote for me again. It would be great for Tommy’s story to reach a wider audience.” 

In school, Anthony was described by his teachers as “often disruptive”, and was always told that his day-dreaming and class-clowning would never get him anywhere. As a result, much of his life so far has been devoted to proving those teachers wrong.

When asked which three words best described himself, Anthony replied “Never. Grown. Up.” which perhaps makes him the best suited to writing children’s books – he is still a child at heart!

Now, having studied Law, he is a qualified solicitor and specialises in Criminal Defence. From lawyer to children’s author seems like an odd jump to make, but Anthony often uses his job as inspiration. He said: “Not a single day is the same and the colourful characters that I meet give me inspiration for my stories!”
Despite the change in direction, Anthony took to writing like a duck to water. He continued: “The idea for the story came to me one day and then I just started writing and didn't stop until my pen ran out.”

Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You follows the story of a seemingly ordinary schoolboy, worried only about football and homework, until his grandfather reveals a massive secret that will change Tommy’s life forever – a pen that enables the user to time travel into their memories.

But Tommy soon learns that he has signed up for more than he expected, as there are others who will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Tommy and his friends must rise to the challenge and fight to keep the pen out of the hands of evil – life as we know it could be at stake if they don’t.

Roald Dahl is a major influence in Anthony’s writing, and he currently lives just a few miles away from the birthplace of arguably the most iconic children’s writer of all time. He is also a massive fan of the Harry Potter series, and dreams of Tommy Parker becoming such a household name – he hopes that one day children will argue over which is better; the ‘elder wand’, or Tommy’s ‘Pen of destiny’.

To vote for Tommy Parker please visit:

Friday, 24 April 2015


Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce that Breaking the Surface is now available to pre-order.

Twelve short stories were selected by the judges for publication in Breaking the Surface including Andrea Wotherspoon’s winning entry of the same title (for which she also won a Kindle Fire). Sarah Evans, Tony Mayle and Jane Collins were also highly commended for their entries.

On hearing the news, Andrea Wotherspoon, from Caithness near John O’Groats said: “My story focuses on the idea of grief and how it affects the people going through it. Despite this, I have been told that it is actually quite uplifting.  I look forward to seeing my work in print.”

The Cardiff-based publisher relaunched the competition to coincide with its summer book festival last year. Laura Foakes won the 2012/2013 competition with her entry The Countess and the Mole Man. She continued to work with Candy Jar and saw the release of her debut children’s book The Liars’ and Fibbers’ Academy last year.

Hayley Cox, senior publishing coordinator at Candy Jar Books, said: “We invite submissions for our short story contest biannually and have held two competitions so far. Both times we were inundated with excellent stories. This is an exciting year for Candy Jar, we will be releasing books from established, as well as debut authors but it’s great to promote previously unpublished writers within this anthology. The quality of writing was truly outstanding and we had a number of entries from all across the UK.”

Breaking the Surface contains the twelve winning stories and is available to pre-order for £9.99 from ahead of the general release of the paperback and ebook editions in the summer. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Here at Candy Jar Books we're delighted to announce that Eileen Younghusband, hero of the Second World War, adult education campaigner and downright national treasure, will be appearing at this year's Hay Festival on 26th May 2015. Now into her ninth decade, Eileen, author of One Woman's War and Men I Have Known, both published by Candy Jar Books, is a natural raconteur, as evinced by her upcoming appearance in the BBC's Britain's Greatest Generation. Expect tales of her time in the Filter Room, the radar hub which orchestrated the RAF's heroic campaigns, from the Battle of Britain to the Dambuster raids, throughout World War Two. To read more, and to book tickets for this event, visit the website of our friends at the Hay Festival by clicking here.

Monday, 13 April 2015


Cardiff-based publisher, Candy Jar Books, is celebrating the success of the first of its Lethbridge-Stewart novels, The Forgotten Son, by offering a FREE 65-page ebook, Lethbridge-Stewart: Top Secret Files.
It is available from or if you wish to download on Kindle the book is 99p.
The ebook contains previously unpublished material, as well as an extended short story first published in Doctor Who Magazine #483 in February. It also includes a special, previously unreleased interview in which Doctor Who director Graeme Harper talks about the actor who played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Nicholas Courtney.
Hayley Cox, senior publishing co-ordinator with Candy Jar Books, said: “The response to The Forgotten Son has been fantastic – over twenty really positive reviews in just over a month! It was so nice, in fact, that we decided we wanted to give something back to the fans, and so we put together this ebook which acts as both a thank you to those who’ve already bought the first book, and an introductory pack for those who have yet to commit to the series.”
The ebook includes:
·         The Ambush! – A short story originally published in Doctor Who Magazine #438, now extended with new scenes. It is set during the Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear, and serves as an introduction to the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.
·         We Won’t Let Him Down – An extended version of the final chapter of Candy Jar Books’ Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants, focussing solely on the television adventures of the Brigadier.
·         What Lies Beyond – A brief look at some of the Doctor Who novels that have featured the Brigadier over the years that pertain to the future of the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels.
·         Graeme Harper – An extended interview with Doctor Who director Graeme Harper (the only director to have worked on the classic series and the revived series) from the book Calling the Shots, in which he talks about Nicholas Courtney, the man who brought the Brigadier to life.
·         Original Prelude – Never-before-seen original prelude that was written to open The Forgotten Son, set during the final moments of the Brigadier’s life.
·         The New World – The opening chapter of The Forgotten Son, the first novel in the Lethbridge-Stewart series.
Sadly Lance Parkin is stepping away from the project for the moment. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, said: “Lance is such a huge talent in the world of Doctor Who and we have left the door open for him to return. Hopefully, one day, Lethbridge-Stewart will make it to Det-Sen.”
Consequently Candy Jar has re-organised its 2015 release schedule. David A McIntee’s The Schizoid Earth is now scheduled for the June release. A replacement novel will follow a few months later – a prequel/sequel to Terrance Dicks’ acclaimed 1977 Doctor Who serial, Horror of Fang Rock which starred Tom Baker; Beast of Fang Rock is written by Andy Frankham-Allen and Terrance Dicks. 2015 will be rounded off with the previously announced Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.
In addition Candy Jar has released details of the authors for the 2016 schedule: John Peel (Doctor Who books include the first original novel published by Virgin Books in 1991 and the critically acclaimed War of the Daleks, as well as novelisations of four Dalek serials from the 1960s), Jonathan Cooper (ex-Doctor Who correspondent with the and author of two Space: 1889 novels), Lizbeth M Myles (author of several licensed Doctor Who short stories) and Adrian Rigelsford (writer of the aborted thirtieth anniversary TV special The Dark Dimension, and Doctor Who reference books The Hinchcliffe Years and The Harper Classics).
The Brigadier first appeared in Doctor Who in 1968, forty-seven years ago, in the serial The Web of Fear. Created by writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, the character became a semi-regular fixture in Doctor Who for eight years in a row, from 1968 to 1975, before returning to the series in 1983. He returned once more in 1989, and then again in The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008. The character’s death was announced in 2011, the same year as Nicholas Courtney passed on. The character was resurrected, briefly, at the end of the 2014 series featuring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Beyond the television series, the character has appeared in countless novels, comics and audio adventures and is the most storied character in the history of Doctor Who, beyond the Doctor himself.
The Lethbridge-Stewart ebook can be downloaded for free as a pdf from or downloaded for 99p on Kindle from Amazon.

Sunday, 29 March 2015


In anticipation of the upcoming release of the official novelisation of Stanley Kubrick's classic film Dr Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, none other than Auntie herself, the BBC, popped round to talk to Candy Jar Books head honcho, Shaun Russell, about its author, the late Peter George.

A simultaneously uproarious and scathing satire of the madness of Mutually Assured Destruction, Dr Strangelove imagines a nuclear doomsday brought about by mistake. Funny enough to earn a top-three spot in the American Film Institute's rankings of all-time best comedies, so troubling as to necessitate upon its release the inclusion of a reassuring disclaimer courtesy of the US Air Force, it is a landmark of cinema. But while well-deserved attention has been lavished on Stanley Kubrick for his role in its creation, the full story of Strangelove, the secret of its alchemic cocktail of belly-laughs and spine-chills, is only to be found in the work of the late Peter George.

Before the character of Strangelove was born out George and Kubrick's shared imagination, George was the author of the 1958 novel Red Alert / Two Hours to Doom, a troubling and entirely serious dissection of the potential shortcomings of nuclear procedure on both sides of the Cold War. Considered so prescient as to become almost required reading for the nuclear strategists of the day, the book also attracted the attention of Stanley Kubrick, who contacted George to suggest the two work together to adapt it into a black comedy for the silver screen. This they did, and the result was  cinematic history.

But what is less well-documented is that George then proceeded to re-adapt the film back into print. The official novelisation of Dr Strangelove maintained the scabrous comedy of the movie, reinstated various elements excised from the final screenplay, and also introduced original elements from George's singular imagination. The character of Strangelove, perhaps Peter Sellers' finest ever role, also inspired George to produce an 8,000 word short story on the mastermind/madman's younger, less-apocalyptic days.

This never-before-published story is included in the upcoming edition of the official novelisation of Dr Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, to be published by Candy Jar Books in June. The edition will also include an introduction by Peter George's son, David George, and will be followed by the publication of Peter George's work in its entirety, starting with Red Alert /Two Hours to Doom. Also to look forward to is a biography on Peter George, by Rhys Lloyd.

Read the BBC article here.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


Candy Jar is delighted to be contributing to the fantastic initiative that is World Book Day this year, and has teamed up with the Welsh Books Council and the irrepressible expeditor of all things sci-fi Mark Brake to encourage scientific curiosity through reading. 

Mark’s book, Space, Time, Machine, Monster is bursting with examples of how science fiction literature, films and television shows have such as Doctor Who and Star Wars have helped build the world in which we live and influence how we imagine our future. To celebrate World Book Day Mark and, TV presenter and science rapper, Jon Chase have launched the Space, Time, Machine, Monster Challenge. Mark and Jon are hoping to spark children’s creativity everywhere by inviting them to create a science project based on the themes space, time, machines or monsters. The resource is designed to encourage scientific curiosity and enthusiastically promote science, tackling questions such as: Are robots going to rule over us? How do lightsabers work? How do you build a time machine?

Mark and Jon are itching to see what creative and interesting ideas the children can come up with. Videos, drawings and photographs of science projects should be sent to the Welsh Books Council. Mark and Jon will then judge the successful entries and award prizes, including visits to schools, to successful participants so get creative and good luck!

More information and details on how to enter please visit:

Ben Taberer

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Just like a shark or Bob Dylan, we here at Candy Jar never stop moving forward. Rarely has that been so literally true, however, as over the last couple of weeks, in which we have been moving offices. Books have been boxed, backs have been strained, but now, ensconced in the warmth and comfort of our new offices, over a nice cup of tea, we can look back, fondly smile, and agree never to put ourselves through such a thing again. We can now be reached (on the uppermost floor) at:

Candy Jar Limited
Mackintosh House

136 Newport Road


Tel: 029 2115 7202

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


It's been a busy old week or so for Lethbridge-Stewart. Lots of exciting things on the horizon. Here are some of Andy Frankham-Allen's highlights:

"First of all, I was interviewed on two podcasts in the last week. By the fine folks at Kasterborous, where I was joined by Hannah Haisman and Shaun Russell, and we talked exclusively about the series and a bit of the background. Secondly I was interviewed by the insane people at Nerdversity, in which I talked about almost everything, including the new series of books, plus my work on Space: 1889 & Beyond and other assorted work over the years, as well as touching on various other subjects such as Supernatural, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Star Trek and loads of other stuff.

Speaking of interviews. Shaun and I were also recently interviewed by both Doctor Who Magazine and SFX Magazine, and will feature in the next issues, both released at the beginning of February. Without saying what, I can tell you that there’s an exciting little surprise for fans also featured in the next issue of DWM, so be sure to pick up an issue!

The Forgotten Son, and thus the series, will be launched in person on February 28th at The Who Shop in London, under the banner of UNIT Day. We’ll be joined by various UNIT alumni, covering all eras of the organisation — hopefully including actors, writers and, maybe, even the script editor responsible for most of the UNIT stories of the 1970s. See below for more information; flyer designed by the wonderful Sam Hunt of The Who Shop.

Promo by Sam Hunt

I can also reveal the final front cover for The Forgotten Son below, as well as an exclusive scene featuring Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in action…"

Final Cover


Friday, 9 January 2015


Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You!
Anthony Ormond

"Ormond trained initially as a lawyer, but his insight into the ways of children and their interactions is sharp, fresh and most assured. In this first novel, Tommy is given a pen from his grandfather, which seems nothing out of the ordinary until Tommy is told of the history of the pen, and of what it can do. From there on, Tommy and his friends are pulled into a series of adventures involving time travel, danger and a most unpleasant organisation. Ormond's observations and ability tell an exciting yarn are very convincing; this alone, aside from the subject matter and ideas exploited in the book, will be enough to have the reader turning pages without wishing to put the book down. The end of the book appears to set the stage for at least one sequel, and if Ormond's talent at writing anything to go by, I and many others will be racing to the shops to pick up any future titles!"

Rudolf Loewenstein
The School Librarian (Winter 2014)




The Liars' and Fibbers' Academy
Laura Foakes
9+ years

"When Danny Quinn truthfully tells everyone that a stray dog is the reincarnation of his older sister, his mother takes to her bed. Dany is sent to the Liars and Fibbers Academy where he meets Derek, who insists she's a mermaid. They are the only children at the school, which has no teachers.

This is a wonderfully quirky read, which has lots of humour and depth. There is a great cast of characters sich as Danny's granny, Lydia who does head standing yoga and belly dancing, and Miss Balalaika from Petersburg who lives upstairs with her Arthur (arthritis), eats Chum dog food, and looks out for Danny with her cries of 'Oi Vey'. The narrative rattles along, diving into Inigus' past as a mud lark and turd collector for a tannery in Victorian England. There is wit and originality in the writing which swooshes the reader from past to present and then into a further dimension. Underlying the fast paced action is the unfurling story of two children struggling to cope with bereavement and with the guil they carry from feeling they were responsible for their loved ones' deaths.

This is an exceptional first novel which is highly entertaining; it also addresses the burden of self blame which many children carry."

Sophie Smiley
The School Librarian (Winter 2014)



Thursday, 18 December 2014


We are pleased to announce the winners of the South Wales Short Story Competition. Congratulations to Andrea Wotherspoon from Caithness in Scotland. Her entry Breaking the Surface was the judges' favourite. 

Hayley Cox, senior publishing coordinator at Candy Jar Books, said: "The response to our competition once again has been breathtaking. Entries have come from all over the United Kingdom. We are truly a national event and we are especially pleased that one of our Celtic cousins has won the top prize."

Following a lengthy and difficult judging process, twelve short stories have been chosen for publication including Andrea Wotherspoon's winning entry. 

Sarah Evans (Welwyn Garden City), Tony Mayle (Alton) and Jane Collins (Bridgend) have also been highly commended for their entries. 

Breaking the Surface by Andrea Wotherspoon 

Highly Commended
Confessions of a Delinquent Daughter by Sarah Evans 
The Moon (and Back) by Tony Mayle  
The Fisherman’s Voice by Jane Collins 

Crisis Meeting in Hell by Jonathon Macho 
Finding Confidence by Linda Poole 
Imaginary Friends by Cheryl Powell 
Reality of Guilt by Rob Tye 
Saved By A Wallet And Some Salmon Teriyaki! by Danny Harris
The Painted Nails by Helen Chambers 
Trunk by Molly Jarvis 
Tulips by Holly Miles 

The book is due to be released in early 2015.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


Another side step. Mark Brake, the author of Mark Brake’s Space, Time, Machine, Monster (featuring sections on Doctor Who) reviews the second edition of BBC 2's Tomorrow’s Worlds – a programme about the history of sci-fi. 

The greatest alien invasion in history began on bicycle.

HG Wells planned The War of the Worlds as he,“wheeled about the district marking down suitable places and people for destruction by my Martians”, as early as 1896.  It’s intriguing to picture him mapping mayhem as he declared his intentions to,“completely destroy Woking – killing my neighbours in painful and eccentric ways – then proceed via Kingston and Richmond to London, which I sack, selecting South Kensington for feats of particular atrocity”,(indeed, it’s South Kensington that is haunted by the sound of the Martians howling,“Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla”in Wells’ finished story).

It’s the exquisite violence of Wells’ imagination that marks his genius. And it’s this delicious balance between the suburban and the alien that is the focus of the second episode of Dominic Sandbrook’s Tomorrow’s Worlds: the Unearthly History of Science Fiction. Sandy, as viewers have come to affectionately know him, almost adopts a space/time/machine/monster structure to this series, but instead of ‘monster’, and as an historian whose expertise includes the Cold War (he’s written a biography on McCarthy), he’s sticking to what he knows most about - invasion paranoia!

Sandy opens this second programme with War of the Worlds, the key Victorian sci-fi work he conveniently skipped in episode one, as it would have ruined his thesis.  He correctly identifies War of the Worlds as the most enduring alien invasion myth of the 20th century.  Wells’ story was essentially copied many times, and adapted directly by Orson Welles in his famous radio broadcast in 1938, when broadcast radio was only 20 years old, making the programme exceptionally innovative, daring, and all the more scary to listeners (Sandy omitted to mention that Welles’ radio version was a Halloween broadcast, making it even scarier).

Another reworking of the War of the Worlds myth was the 1996 movie, Independence Day.  As Sandy says, compared to the original, Independence Day is totally overblown.  Quiet suburban streets are replaced by a ‘drama’ played out in the seats of power, with the world’s landmarks taking a twatting (the film’s director, Roland Emmerich says they took great delight in blowing up the White House).  But Sandy is right when he suggests that this big budget demolition lacks a psychological punch.  When you remove the invasion from suburbia, you lose the sublime tension.  It seems that Spielberg was well aware of this, as both Close Encounters and E.T. do the job brilliantly.

And this brings me round to the topic of Doctor Who.  A few years ago, I was speaking at a London Science Museum event with the Doctor Who writer (among other things!), Paul Cornell.  When the audience asked us about the contribution Doctor Who made to science fiction, I was surprised to hear Paul say that he didn’t think Doctor Who was science fiction.  He thought it was about ‘galaxy and chips’.  I was delighted with this response.  So much so that we’ve used it in our Science of Doctor Who show ever since!

When Peter Capaldi was asked by The Guardian newspaper why Doctor Who had kept its sense of wonder for so long, the Twelfth Doctor gave a similar response to Paul Cornell, “It is this relationship between the domestic and the epic.  The sense that there's a bridge, that a hand can be extended, and you can step from the Earth, from the supermarket car park, into the Andromeda nebulae or whatever”.  It’s that sublime tension again.

The book, Mark Brake's Space, Time, Machine, Monster, also examines how sci-fi helped build the world in which we live. It is is available to buy now from Amazon and the Candy Jar store.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


We love a bargain, and what better time to grab one than just before Christmas?

To showcase our shiny new online shop (and to join in with the Black Friday fun) we've taken 40% off all of our released books for today only. Don't miss out!

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Mark Brake, the author of Mark Brake’s Space, Time, Machine, Monster reviews last night’s Tomorrow’s Worlds – a programme about the history of sci-fi. Next week is a Doctor Who heavy episode. Don’t miss it!

On TV, no one can hear you scream.

Or at least that’s what it seemed like last night, as I screamed enthusiastically at historian Dominic Sandbrook’s presentation of Tomorrow’s Worlds: the Unearthly History of Science Fiction, on BBC Two.

Dominic did a reasonable job of guiding us through the science fiction of space, the first theme of this four-part series. But as his focus was film, I felt his theories were left a little lacking in leaving out a lot of the fiction that had inspired the movies.

Witness Dominic’s account of the roots of sci-fi. The origin of it all, he says, comes from tales of trips to the Moon, from the likes of Jules Verne. You can see why Dominic took this tack.  Verne’s book was very influential on one of sci-fi’s first ever films – Le Voyage dans la Lune, a 1902 French silent movie, directed by Georges Méliès.

And yet the first Moon stories of sci-fi were published in the 1630s, over two centuries before Jules Verne, and way before the days of cinema.  Both Somnium, by Johannes Kepler, and A Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin (the Bishop of Llandaff in Cardiff!) were lunar journeys that involved meetings with alien life. Dominic says the cool thing about Jules Verne is that he got the maths right.  Well, Johannes Kepler was Imperial Mathematician to the Pope! Kepler really got his maths right. He was the man who gave us the laws of how the planets move in orbit about the Sun!

Perhaps the programme’s biggest problem was ignoring the influence of that Shakespeare of sci-fi, HG Wells.

Dominic suggested that Star Trek was Victorian in its attitude to other peoples and nations. But, that most influential of the Victorian writers, Wells had warned against such an attitude with The War of the Worlds, a cautionary tale about empires swanning around as if they owned the place.

The programme also suggested that Victorian sci-fi had put man at the centre of the Universe. And yet, the era’s most influential work, The War of the Worlds did exactly the opposite; humans are faced with the technologically superior and invading Martians (I suspect Dominic is conveniently keeping this Wells tale for the next episode on ‘Invasion’).

Next up, Dominic introduces the movie masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Its author, Arthur C Clarke, was determined to move humans from their assumed centre of the cosmos, according to Dominic. And yet Clarke’s entire approach was greatly influenced by Wells who had quoted Kepler when he said of alien life, “But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be inhabited? … Are we, or they, Lords of the World? … And how are all things made for man?” In other words, who’s boss of the Universe?! Clarke was following a line started by Kepler, and carried on by Wells.

Still, even though the programme missed out on this longer fictional view for the sake of film, it was nonetheless thought provoking.

The link between the sea and space was conjured up in the programme’s account of the James Cameron movie, Avatar. The film’s main planet, Pandora, presented an ecology very reminiscent of deep sea ecology on Earth. This is no doubt influenced by Cameron’s journey to the Mariana Trench; he’s the first person ever do a solo descent to this deepest part of the ocean.

Science fiction began in the days of Shakespeare. It was Kepler who had first encouraged the building of ships fit for space.  In the last few minutes of the programme, Dominic claimed the desire for space has fizzled out.  No doubt the script was written and filmed before the ESA Rosetta mission successfully plonked a lander on a comet speeding at 40,000mph, much to the adoring delight of the world on social media!

I look forward to the next three episodes; on invasion, robots, and time travel respectively.  Hopefully, people will come out of Tomorrow’s Worlds wanting to know and read more.

The book, Mark Brake's Space, Time, Machine, Monster, also examines how sci-fi helped build the world in which we live. It is is available to buy now from Amazon and the Candy Jar store.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Happy bonfire night! As a special treat here's an extract from one of our latest books featuring the man of the moment: Guy Fawkes.

A dozen of the King’s Guard had chased him to the end of a long stone corridor. He was cornered now in passages deep beneath the Houses of Parliament; the building that he’d come to destroy. There was nowhere left to run.

Breathless, he turned to face his pursuers, sizing up each of them and searching for a weak link, weighing up whether there was any way that he could fight his way out. The guards, each of them protected by their leather coats and iron breastplates, stood four across and three deep, cutting off any hope of escape. They held half-pikes that were thrust menacingly towards him. He didn’t stand a chance.

He thought about his partners in this scheme and wondered whether they would have more luck. It was certainly a great shame that they’d no longer be able to see their mission through. 

And all because of that strange little old man. 

He recalled the last few moments, considering where it had all gone wrong.

Their plan had been simple, but the effect would have been devastating. A blast that would have been heard around the world. 

He’d hidden in these cellars for days with little water and even less food, but none of that had bothered him as such small sacrifices would be worth it in the end. And he’d come so close, too. Today was to be the day. He had gone through his final checks: examining each wooden barrel, each fuse, and making sure that nothing could go wrong. Through their connections they had managed to secure the ideal location: a huge disused cellar located directly beneath the House of Lords. Right where they needed to be! The planning had taken months, years even, with thousands of pounds spent and countless favours called in, all of which would have soon borne fruit. They wouldn’t have known what had hit them.

His surroundings were filthy; his dust-covered cloak shrouded his scruffy clothes, and his normally smart boots had been made dull with dirt. Scraps of food were lodged in his moustache and his bushy, reddish-brown beard.

When he checked the contents of the last barrel, his cloak had fallen from his shoulder, exposing a thick, powerful arm. On his forearm was the scar he’d been given in a knife-fight but above that scar was a more intriguing sight altogether. A mark that he always kept hidden, unless in certain and familiar company; the inky tattoo of a quill, a mark that each of his co-conspirators also boasted. The mark of the Brotherhood.

He had examined the fuse one final time, thinking with pride how it was him who had been chosen to complete this, the most important of tasks. Those thirty-six barrels, filled to the brim with gunpowder, which would change history. And it was he who had been chosen to light the fuse. A single match that would illuminate the city and bring with it a new beginning. This king hadn’t understood them. It had fallen upon his brethren to make a change.

He remembered looking at his pocket watch. The time had come. So much firepower would not just demolish Parliament but also most of Central London. The blaze would light up the night and burn for a year. People would long remember this day and sing songs about it. And him? Well, they were sure to make effigies of him and chant his name. He would have been a hero.

If only it wasn’t for that old man. 

He recalled how, in his final moments of preparation, he had been startled by a voice from the darkness. He’d thought he had been alone.

‘Penny for them, Guy?’ the voice had said.

‘Huh? Who’s there?’ He recoiled in fright, shocked that someone had been lurking in the shadows.

‘Your thoughts, Guido,’ the invisible voice replied. ‘A penny for them?’

An old face had then moved towards him out of the darkness. The face belonged to a man, a rather pleasant looking old man, who was only just taller than the wooden barrel that he’d hidden behind.

‘I don’t know who you are,’ Guy replied. He felt calmer as he realised that the stranger carried no threat. ‘But you can’t stop this. You’re too late. This is my destiny!’

He had taken a match then and, kneeling by the slow-burn fuse, had deliberately, poignantly, struck the match and watched as the bright flame threw the cellar into light. 

‘I’m afraid, Mr Fawkes,’ the old man had said, ‘that there will be no fire in the sky tonight. I cannot let you succeed again. Not this time.’ He’d then swiftly blown out the match before adding, ‘But you are right about one thing: the world will remember you.’

Dumbfounded, Guy had done nothing but stare blankly at where the wrinkled face had been, holding the spent match as it had smouldered in his fingers. Coming to his senses, he’d then reached out, snatching at nothing but a handful of darkness. The figure had vanished. 

It was then that dozens of heavy footsteps clattered on the stone outside the door. Then a loud crash as the doors had burst open and sent shards of wood flying across the room as the King’s Guard charged through. 

He’d run for all he was worth, but there was no way out. His escape route was blocked by a bolted door.

He evaluated the scene again. This isn’t how it was supposed to happen. Who was that old man? And how did he vanish into thin air?

Deciding that he’d rather go down fighting, Guy pulled a dagger from his belt and braced himself for the fight that he knew would end his life. He steeled himself to charge but stalled as the wall of soldiers parted suddenly. 

Will they really let me through? 

His optimism was short-lived. A heavy rattling was followed by the emergence of two soldiers rolling a small cannon into the gap that they had created. Clearly they were taking no chances with him. Then, reminiscent of himself only moments before, one of the guards knelt and struck a match, lighting the fuse. Seconds later there was a loud bang.

Guy Fawkes saw it all in slow motion. The dagger fell from his hand as the cannonball flew through the air towards him.

This was it.

His time had come.

Read more in Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You!

Monday, 27 October 2014


Vampire babysitters, zombie best friends and demonic rabbits are just a few of the creepy characters to appear in a fresh new collection of short stories for children available just in time for Halloween.

Fantastical and fun, Zombie Jig and Jive and Other Creepy Tales has been written by Karla Brading and beautifully illustrated by up-and-coming artist, Carie Martyn. This collection of seven short stories for children will put a smile on your face and send a shiver down your spine.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014


On the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s release, and to mark what would have been its author’s ninetieth year, Candy Jar Books is re-issuing the official novelisation of Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Preserved by the US National Film Registry in recognition of its cultural importance, rated by the American Film Institute as the third funniest movie ever made, provocative, thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Dr Strangelove is a cinematic landmark.

Included in this new edition is a never-before-published short by Peter George about Strangelove’s early career. Offering an insight into the character’s background, and slyly alluding to the real-life figures which inspired the creation of him; this ‘exclusive’ new content is a fascinating addition to the Strangelove legend.     

Despite its status as a comedy classic, Dr Strangelove… was inspired by a far more downbeat source: Peter George’s novel Two Hours to Doom (Red Alert in the USA). A solemn look at the madness of Mutually Assured Destruction, Two Hours… was considered so chillingly accurate that it was used as a tactical training document on both sides of the Atlantic.

Kubrick was so impressed with the novel that not only did he buy its film rights, but he asked George to adapt it for the screen. George, alongside Kubrick and Terry Southern, was Oscar nominated for his work in doing so, a process which had transformed his grave forewarning of nuclear Armageddon into the raucous and biting satire that we know today. George was the natural choice for the novelisation which he started before the film was completed.

Much of what is iconic and influential about the movie originates in Two Hours… The real-life hotline which connects the US president to his Russian counterpart was installed in response to anxious readers of the book; meanwhile, the code ‘CRM-114’, which Kubrick enthusiasts diligently search for across his films, is first to be found in George’s Two Hours to Doom.

And George once again pushed his story into unexplored territory, developing many scenes that were not included in the final cut of the film, and fleshing out the narrative.

Sadly, he took his own life in June 1966, just a year after his Oscar nomination, for reasons that haven’t yet been understood but will be explored in the publication of his biography.

Candy Jar Books is an independent, Cardiff-based publisher, and was approached with George’s work by his son, having previously commissioned a biography of the late author. Dr Strangelove…, the official novelisation, is the first in a series of re-issues that will ultimately see the entirety of Peter George’s back catalogue in print.

With a Blu-ray set of Kubrick’s work, the Masterpiece Collection, also being released this year, the time is right for an important part of the Strangelove story to once more be made available. Head of Publishing for Candy Jar Books Shaun Russell said, ‘We are delighted to be publishing such an influential and ground-breaking story. Dr Strangelove… is part of the fabric of our culture, and to be able to share the novelisation with the world, particularly in such a landmark year, is a privilege.’

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is published by Candy Jar Books and is available in paperback from December 2014. Pre-order now!