Fictional websites: a book promotion idea from the world of Doctor Who

I recently discovered some of the ‘fictional’ websites from the Doctor Who series. I immediately thought, ‘What a great idea for a book promotion!’. So I’ll throw on my Tom Baker-style striped scarf, get comfy and give you the rundown. Who knows, you too might be inspired to do something different for your next book promotion!

There are quite a few of these websites that have been created for fake organisations in the Doctor Who series. Some of them look simple, but if you spend a bit of time hunting around, you’ll find special pages.

Some of the websites contain quirky references to the TV series – so you’d need to be familiar with the show in order to ‘get it’.

Others have puzzles and games with a reward. The website, Who is Doctor Who, makes a good starting point. There’s a fun game, set in ‘Scribble World’ on the home page.

Here are a few of the more interesting websites:

The Torchwood House website could be the site for any heritage-listed building. To play the interactive game, click on ‘Observatory’ then ‘Scan for heavenly bodies’. The password is ‘victoria’. If you’re familiar with the characters from the more recent Doctor Who series, you’ll see also a surprise under ‘Weddings’.

The Leamington Spa Lifeboat Museum seems to be the website for a weird and yet banal exhibition. Hunt around and you’ll find the interactive game.

IMHO, the best of the lot is the Deffrey Vale High School website, featuring the magnificently-creepy Anthony Head. Take the ‘IQ’ test, found under ‘Are you smart enough?’. It’s truly brilliant. The site could almost be ‘real’ – it looks fantastic, it’s interactive and scarily engaging.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive rundown on the fictional websites, google ‘Doctor Who fictional websites’. There’s also a wikipedia page on them.

What I enjoy about these websites is that they allow places and characters from a TV show to ‘exist’ outside of the show. A book series that played with this idea of the realness of characters is the Lemony Snicket series. Here, the lines between reality and fiction were blurred: the author was fictional, and yet through his insistent and intrusive narration seemed to be alive.

Fictional websites would be outside the budget of many authors. However, interactivity is an idea not explored by most authors for their online promotions. Why not devise tests, polls or questionnaires that relate to the themes of your books? Get your readers involved and engaged – encourage them to experience the world of your books. 

And finally, I should also mention YA author George Ivanoff’s new blog on the Doctor Who books. Read and enjoy at Boomerang Books online.


Day 3 of my Doctor Who Literary Week: Doctor Who & the heart of Science Fiction

It’s day 3 of my Doctor Who Literary Week . Today Ebony McKenna guest blogs with a piece about how the Doctor Who series manages to capture …

The Heart of Science Fiction

by Ebony McKenna

Science fiction is fabulously geared towards solving problems. And there never seems to be a lack of them: climate change, water shortages, wars, pestilence, alien invasion, megalomaniacs bent on world domination (ooops, I think I’m talking about myself there).

It seems an emotionless genre: Here’s a problem, let’s fix it, let’s move on. Emotions on the other hand can’t be fixed – they need soothing, examining, nurturing. It would seem to be the very opposite of problem solving. But when you combine problem solving with emotions – as they do so well in Doctor Who – you get magic.

I’d been a fan for so long – except when Bonnie Langford came along and everything took a dive into pantomime and screaming

When Doctor Who came back to our screens after such a long break, I was filled with anguish. Would it be any good? Would it be only for the fanboys and leave the rest of us scratching our heads? Would it be too populist and ignore decades of canon?

Instead, it appealed to loads of people and kept the fan base happy, an incredible double act. They achieved this because they poured their hearts into the show and made it about emotions and problems.

Watching the first episode with Christopher Eccleston, my heart soared with joy. It was like catching up with an old friend. An old friend who’d fallen hard times a while back, but was now doing really well. I’d been a fan for so long, except when Bonnie Langford came along and everything took a dive into pantomime and screaming. (Or maybe that’s all I remember of it. I’m too scared to go back and watch in case it’s even worse than I recall.)

What cemented the new Doctor Who in my heart was the two-parter written by Steven Moffatt: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. A war orphan wearing a gas mask walks up to people asking, “Are you my mummy?” It was so horrible and creepy I’ve come over in goosebumps thinking about it. 

The problem solving plot involved medical nanogenes using a boy in a gasmask as a template for humans. The nanos needed a proper template or they’d turn the entire population into gasmask-wearing zombies. (This would seriously cramp Captain Jack’s style!) 

The resolution required the very best of emotions – unconditional love. The Doctor says, “There isn’t a little boy born who wouldn’t tear the world apart to save his mummy. And this little boy can.” Young Nancy confesses her terrible secret that Jamie is in fact her son and not her little brother. Nancy embraces her son with all the love she has in her. Love saves the world! 

It set the tone for future episodes involving emotional turmoil and problems of an epic scale, but also with a heart that beat true and steady. Not every episode combines both – but the ones that work brilliantly manage to get the very best of both worlds. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Ebony admits to a spooky Doctor Who connection – her initials have appeared on a Doctor Who book cover!

The cover for Doctor Who: Cold Fusion

The cover for Cold Fusion - can you spot Ebony's initials?


Don’t believe me? There’s a detailed explanation by Jon Preddle at ‘Doctor’s Dilemma’. (Scroll down to the discussion about Alister Pearson’s cover art.)

Ebony also talks about this weird fact on her blog.

Ebony McKenna is the author of Ondine, published with Egmont Press. Click here to visit Ebony’s website.




The Australian & New Zealand cover of Ondine

The cover for Ebony's novel, Ondine (Aust/NZ vers)


Day two of my Doctor Who Literary Week – featuring m a miller’s Memories of Doctor Who

It’s day two of my Doctor Who Literary Week and science fiction author m a miller guest blogs with a short story inspired by the Doctor Who series.

If you’re Doctor Who’s companion, your memories may not be all that pleasant …

Memories of Doctor Who

by m a miller

The corridor’s ceiling had evenly spaced light fittings down the middle. Each created a puddle of brightness on the shiny tiled floor, in stark contrast to the shadows looming on the walls behind. As I walked its length, I tried, in vain, to keep my footsteps soft, quiet. But time was running out.  I’d been trapped in the building for what seemed like hours.  I needed to move fast, to get away.

Earlier, I’d found the Tardis quite by accident. Thinking I’d finally found an exit, I rounded a corner, and there it was in all its police box blue glory. There was no sign of life but I banged on the door anyway, hoping the Doctor was in.  Nothing. I knew why he was here – to protect us from Them.  I wondered where he was.

Did he need my help? Should I wait? No, I couldn’t stand still – I’d be a target if They came. So I kept moving.

It was 1982, that much I knew for sure, but which Doctor was with the Tardis?  Had he changed again, regenerated into a person I would not recognise? Would he remember me as I remembered him – a hero who kept saving my world? A hero with a soft spot for the human race?

I moved through room after room, hoping I was headed the right way, wishing for someone to guide me, but They had been before me. Now all the humans I encountered were frozen in time. Some looked shocked, others afraid but all had the same stillness I’d come to expect.

I needed to get out. I wanted to run but every time I panicked I blundered in the wrong direction. Or worse, I found myself back where I’d first encountered Them.  Round and round, it was taking far too long.

Finally I saw it.  A door that would take me out and to freedom. But I was torn, would the Doctor be okay?  Should I stay and help him? Could I help him?

Then I saw them. At first I thought it was just one. Then I realised there were three. Three! I didn’t stand a chance. Three Daleks ready to exterminate and they were between me and the way out.

It took me a moment to realise that they weren’t moving. There was no sign of life. Had they been frozen as well?  I moved forward, carefully, placing each foot down slowly, quietly. Reaching out I touched the metal shell and held my breath as I waited for the dreaded word – exterminate. Nothing. I rapped my knuckles along its side.  No reaction. Then I looked it straight in its eye piece.  It was as frozen as every other living creature around me.

I slipped round it, made sure the other two were just as still and headed for the door.

As I swung it open, what faced me filled me with such horror that I stopped dead in my tracks. For there was Doctor Who. He appeared to have been walking up the stairs but now he stood frozen.  They had got him too!

I stumbled back into the room. The Daleks appeared closer than I remembered. I tried to get past but I was clumsy, I knocked into one and then tripped. As I fell I saw a shadow behind me.  It was too late, They were about to get me…

“Are you right there, miss?”

A hand grabbed my arm and I was hauled upright.

“We’re about to close.” The guard pointed to the large sign across the room. “The exit is this way.”

When I reached the door I turned and looked back. Madame Tussauds’ Doctor Who Exhibition was full of all the scary enemies that I’d come to love and loath. It had been a great day, trapped inside. I smiled as I exited.


You’re invited …

alto books proudly invites you and friends

to the launch of Martha-Ann Miller’s new fantasy novel

Mis’ka: The rite of ascension

Tjanabi Resturant, Shop 3a, The Atrium, Federation Square in Melbourne

from 6.30 pm, Tuesday 15 June 2010

Finger food provided, full bar service available

No RSVP required


Cover for Mis'ka

Cover for Mis'ka: The rite of ascension

Click here to visit m a miller’s website to find out more about Mis’ka: The rite of ascension.

Whoo Hoo! It’s Doctor Who Literary Week & here’s a guest post from George Ivanoff

This week I’m hosting my very own Doctor Who Literary Week.

I’ve invited several Australian YA authors to contribute guest posts about how the Doctor Who series influenced them as writers. And to kick-off, here’s George Ivanoff writing about …

My little fan-boy moment

I’ve had over 40 books published as well as lots of short stories and articles. My latest novel, Gamers’ Quest, is currently in bookstores. These days, writing is actually my career. 

What publication have I been most excited by? A short story called ‘Machine Time’. It appeared in Short Trips: Defining Patterns, a Doctor Who anthology edited by Ian Farrington and published in 2008. I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for over 30 years, so the publication of this story was a fan-boy’s dream come true. And to top things off, the story got the thumbs up from Doctor Who Magazine:

… a compelling and creepy story of a universe threatened by voracious machines…

 But how did it happen?

Well, opportunity came knocking in the form of a friend of mine who had been writing regularly for the Short Trips anthologies that Big Finish Productions in the UK was licensed to publish. He sent his editor an email recommending me as a writer. I was invited to submit a story proposal for an upcoming anthology. I was so excited, I submitted three proposals … all of which were rejected. Opportunity went flying out the window. End of story …

The cover for Doctor Who: Short Trips

The cover for Doctor Who, Short Trips: Defining Patterns


But I don’t give up that easily. When Big Finish announced a short story competition, the winner to be published in the next anthology, I decided to submit an entry. Then I read the rules … the competition was only open to amateur, unpublished writers. Did I let that stop me? No! I wrote a story anyway, and emailed it off with a cover letter asking them to treat it as an unsolicited professional submission rather than a competition entry.

Success! Editor Ian Farrington emailed to say that he liked the story … but that they couldn’t use it, as they only needed one story on the competition’s theme … but he asked if I’d like to write a new story. Would I? You bet! So I got a brief asking me to write a 2,000-ish word story dealing with destiny or chance. The story had to be complete in its own right, but had to also give the impression of being part of something larger. The result was ‘Machine Time’. I’m very proud of it! It’s my little fan-boy moment.

Unfortunately it’s my only fan-boy moment, as shortly after, Big Finish ceased publication of its Short Trips anthologies. But I have my eagle-eyes trolling the Internet for any other Doctor Who opportunities that may come along in the future. You never know … I may one day get a second fan-boy moment!

Cover for Gamers' Quest

The cover for Gamers' Quest


George’s Bio

George Ivanoff is a Melbourne based author, stay-at-home-dad and nerdy Doctor Who fan. Two of his books (Life, Death and Detention and Real Si-Fi) have been on the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge booklist since its inception in 2005.

George’s latest book, a science fiction adventure for young teens called Gamers’ Quest, includes a small Doctor Who reference within its pages. George hopes to pepper more of his writings with Doctor Who references in the future.

Click here to check out George’s website.

And click here to check out the official Gamers’ Quest website.

Here’s Short Trips: Defining Patterns on amazon.

And here’s the online catalogue for Big Finish Productions’ current book list.