Candy Jar Books has announced the second of its standalone Lethbridge-Stewart
hardback novels for 2020, Kiss of the Ice Maiden by Michael Sloan:
Lethbridge-Stewart moved through the overlapping shadows in the cemetery with his heart pounding in his chest. The coffin was shrouded by rain that sheeted across the ground. He knew what would be waiting for him, but he could not turn away from it. He approached the grave carefully, aware that one of the shadows could manifest itself into the shape of the creatures. Vines had wrapped their tentacles around the coffin. Lethbridge-Stewart stepped up alongside it, holding onto his revolver, and lifted the lid. He shoved it to one side, revealing the creature lying beneath. She was a scarecrow of the vision he had in his mind. Her skin was dry and flaked off when he touched it. She was a husk, wasting away as if ravaged by a deadly disease. Her eyes were obsidian, her long eyelashes a mockery of the once beautiful face. Its texture repelled him. It was his worst nightmare.
Michael Sloan has hundreds of TV credits to his name, including Battlestar Galactica, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Six Million Dollar Man, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. However, he is perhaps best known as the creator of the original The Equalizer TV series, which has subsequently been adapted into a billion-dollar franchise starring Denzel Washington.
In the late ‘60s, early ‘70s Michael spent a great deal of time in the UK and fell in love with Doctor Who, particularly the Jon Pertwee era. Michael said:
I have been a fan of Doctor Who for as long as I can remember. I wanted my Lethbridge-Stewart book to be a distinctive departure for his character. So, in my book the Brigadier falls in love! This is a thriller and, as you would imagine, the course of true love does not run smooth. Despite this, I thought it would make a change for the readers to see Lethbridge-Stewart wrestling with his emotions. He is vulnerable and his normal stalwart persona has been emotionally comprised.
Kiss of the Ice Maiden is reminiscent of the early 1970s Hammer Horror films set in present day such as Dracula A.D. 1972. It has supernatural and horrific overtones, and is the kind of book that would expect from the creator of The Equalizer.
Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, said
A few years ago I worked together with Michael on Lost in Christmas, a children’s book about a family who become trapped inside Christmas cards and have to find a way to escape. While working on this, I sent Michael some Lethbridge-Stewart books and he devoured them. It wasn’t long before he pitched his own idea and I jumped at it. His story is certainly a different perspective on our hero. It also takes us right back to the 1970s, and picks up where we left off after A Very Private Haunting.
The Kiss of the Ice Maiden delves deeper into the Brig’s past to find out what makes him tick. Alongside this, Anne Travers has lost her father to the Great Intelligence, and has turned her back on HAVOC. Michael’s story is an emotional punch-up and is reminiscent of The Equalizer. Michael continues:
The book does echo some of my screenplays I have written over the years, where the hero is flawed, but still very much a hero. I did this with some effect in the three Equalizer books. The Robert McCall character is tough, edgy and mercurial, all qualities that he shares with Lethbridge-Stewart. Particularly when he has been played with such strength and vision by Denzel Washington in the two Equalizer movies that have been shot by Sony/Columbia.
The striking cover art is by artist Martin Baines, who created artwork for the Downtime hardback. Martin said:
For me book covers need to convey the feel and mood inside a book. I don't think you are treating the reader well if every cover looks the same with a generic photoshopped face of the hero on the cover and is often short sighted. When I was briefed by Candy Jar I instantly thought of the brilliant painted covers for Pan's paperbacks in the sixties and posters for Hammer Horror. I do not normally use this type of palette so it was a bit of experiment but I really liked the poster of Hammer's The Gorgan and thought it was a good starting point. I think it makes this cover slightly different and more special for the readers. The empty fairground also brought great images in my head.
There will be two editions of The Kiss of the Ice Maiden, both now available for pre-order from Candy Jar Books, a standard paperback edition limited to 200 copies, and a limited edition hardback, which also includes a postcard and free book featuring stories from the Lethbridge-Stewart universe.
Please note that this special is not covered by any subscription offer.
The latest instalment of The Lucy Wilson Mysteries will be The Phantoms of Tusker Rock by Christopher Bryant:
Lucy Wilson might be the scourge of all things extra-terrestrial, but her latest opponent is a little closer to home. Try as Lucy might, her dad just doesn’t get it. Earth’s last line of defence doesn’t get to take days off, even if it means staying out on a school night!
Particularly when those nights are broken by the sound of supernatural howling. And ghostly Vikings stalking the streets. And a mysterious coven of druids, led by someone who looks awfully like the little old woman down the road…
Whatever her dad says, Lucy’s got a job to do. But with night falling, and the waters rising, soon she finds herself cut off from everyone she loves.
Like several of Lucy’s previous adventures, the latest mystery is rooted in the area’s ancient legends. It was a concept that appealed to author Christopher, whose Welsh heritage has always informed his life and work. In The Phantoms of Tusker Rock we find Lucy and her superbrain sidekick Hobo encountering the ghostly cyhyraeth – a disembodied howl portending the death of the listener, which, legends say, can be heard emanating from Ogmore’s Tusker Rock to this day. The Rock has long been a source of legend, the ruin of unwary ships for centuries. And where myths collide, and the supernatural threatens, Lucy Wilson is sure to be found.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Doctor Who is how it opens a portal – sometimes literally – between the everyday and the fantastic. In particular I’ve always liked the episodes that take the viewer into history. Whether it’s the Doctor’s flirting with Elizabeth I, or taking a jaunt around Dickensian London, it’s such a cool way of giving young viewers a sense of connection to their heritage. When Candy Jar approached me, I saw the opportunity to root around in that rich trove of folklore and myth and, hopefully, introduce it to a new generation.
South Wales, of course, has been a hotspot of all things extraterrestrial, extratemporal and extraordinary ever since the BBC established the home of Doctor Who in Cardiff. As the capital of not only (unquestionably) the world’s most beautiful country, but also one of its most loved and enduring franchises, in recent years the city has drawn in tourists from all over the world, keen to see the real-life home of the Doctor’s adventures. As Candy Jar’s Head of Publishing, Shaun Russell, put it:
You can go anywhere in the world and people know Wales because of the Doctor. When we started the Lucy Wilson series, we knew we wanted to build on this connection; not only did basing our stories in Wales help establish an internal logic within the wider universe, but being a Cardiff company built up Lucy’s adventures. Lucy is a mixed-race character, who moved to the area from London. Using her character as the means to explore Wales’ folklore, we hope to paint a picture of Wales in the modern day – a country proud of its traditions yet cosmopolitan, diverse, and entirely at home in the twenty-first century.
The Phantoms of Tusker Rock is available to pre--order from the Candy Jar website.
Candy Jar Books currently have a sale on for their range of books, and have also made an additional free story available to listen to, Edge of Glory.