Candy Jar Books have announced two new UNIT books. Operation Wildcat will be a brand-new hardback anthology of UNIT short stories, packaged together with The Benton Files 2
UNIT are back on TV! Last week’s Doctor Who: Flux charted the course of UNIT’s history across the 20th and 21st centuries. (Albeit a version altered by the Grand Serpent). So there’s never been a better time to revisit Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s original team. From early 2023, Candy Jar will begin publishing a series of novels covering the adventures of UNIT – featuring Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton, and other characters from the Doctor Who story The Invasion (all authorised by Kate Sherwin and Hannah Haisman). In advance of those novels Candy Jar Books are also releasing the first short story anthology: The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories. Compiled by Range Editor Tim Gambrell, it brings together nine adventures.
The UNIT Files seeks to explore the many aspects of UNIT only hinted at on television
Gambrell explains the premise of The UNIT Files. “Candy Jar has already set a standard for short story collections with The HAVOC Files books. The UNIT Files will continue in that vein. There are a lot of aspects – personal or otherwise – of life in UNIT that haven’t been covered on TV or within spin-off media published to date. That opens up a deep well of potential material that really suits the short story medium. I think we’ve pulled together a collection of pieces for this first UNIT Files that truly reflects that.”
“Everyone who was able to contribute seemed hugely fired-up by the opportunity and pitched some tremendous ideas. My story in The Benton Files book sparked an idea for a pair of linked situations within Benton’s career, so I’ve used those shorter ‘scenes’ to book-end the collection.”
Operation Wildcat showcases a range of established Candy Jar authors, as well as a new name
Among the authors contributing to Operation Wildcat and Other Stories are recent Lethbridge-Stewart writers James Middleditch (The Overseers), Jonathan Macho (The Serpent’s Tongue and The Two Brigadiers) and Baz Greenland (Bloodlines: Foreword to the Past), along with the return of popular author Iain McLaughlin (Mind of Stone) and long-standing Candy Jar stalwarts Sharon Bidwell and Sarah Groenewegen. In addition, Candy Jar welcomes new author Simon A Brett.
Gambrell praised the team that have assembled for the project. “I’ve enjoyed Simon’s work on other projects, and I was keen to introduce some new voices early on in the UNIT range. Simon had a basic concept inspired by a recent trip to the Shetlands Islands. I knew I needed to bottle that inspiration, and we quickly worked out a storyline together (along with a punning title). As expected, what Simon delivered was spot on.”
Sarah Groenewegen’s title story looks at the unique training that prepares UNIT troops for anything
The story that gives the collection its title, Operation Wildcat, is by Sarah Groenewegen. Of the opportunity to contribute to The UNIT Files, Sarah says: “I’ve loved writing for the Brigadier, and when the opportunity came to contribute a story involving more of the UNIT family I leapt at it. Sergeant Benton was, for me, the obvious choice to focus on as an ordinary squaddie facing extraordinary foes.”
Sarah goes on further to explain the background to her story: “I grew up with the original UNIT stories, and later spent a fair proportion of my law enforcement career alongside serving and former special forces soldiers. Some of the tales they shared about their training made me wonder about the adventures prospective UNIT soldiers might face and what qualities the organisation would look for in new recruits.”
Shadow features UNIT’s new recruit, John Benton, finding his feet
The UNIT Files sees the return of author Iain McLaughlin, whose last book for Candy Jar was Mind of Stone (returning to print with a brand new story very soon). Iain explains about his return: “My dad was a staff sergeant, so I’ve always been hugely fond of the UNIT stories on TV. That also means that any time there’s a chance to do a UNIT or Brigadier story I’m happy to join up and do my duty.”
“My contribution, Shadow, is set early in Benton’s time with UNIT. He’s still learning how things work and the brass at UNIT are still getting to know him. I wanted to do a story that gave him a chance to show there was a lot more to him than just snapping to attention and saying ‘Sir’. He wouldn’t survive – and indeed thrive – in UNIT if he wasn’t resourceful and capable as well as brave. It let me have a bit of a delve into what Benton thought he was getting into in those early days.”
James Middlemarch’s story also focuses on UNIT’s most stalwart NCO
Of contributor James Middleditch, Tim says: “I approached James just as he was completing work for Andy Frankham-Allen on The Overseers. He was very buoyed up from the experience and eager for the next challenge.”
James explains: “Doctor Who, while rightfully focusing on the Doctor and his companions, leaves us some tantalising clues about what UNIT and its troops are up to in the background – including how personnel are managed, trained and promoted. Although he holds a number of positions across his various appearances, usually Benton is referred to as sergeant – it’s the rank he seems stuck with! At last, we can find out how he took on this mantle and what challenges he had to overcome.”
Jonathan Macho and Baz Greenland both return for a pair of stories described respectively as “Bong Joon Ho’s The Host in West Wales” an an exploration of how the regular army views UNIT
Jonathan Macho first came to Candy Jar’s attention as a runner-up in the second South Wales Short Competition. He then went on to write the short story The Two Brigadiers, as well as the hugely creative Lucy Wilson book, The Serpent’s Tongue. He says: “When Tim kindly asked me to contribute to the first UNIT adventures at Candy Jar, my head flooded with bonkers ideas for the Brig and Benton. Where I ended up was Bong Joon Ho’s The Host in West Wales and the most fun I’ve had writing a story in a long time. I can’t wait to see what my fellow writers have in store for the team too!”
Baz Greenland’s first novel, Foreword to the Past, closed the Lethbridge-Stewart: Bloodlines series in 2020. He says: “I was delighted to be asked to contribute to The UNIT Files and to have the opportunity to write for the Brigadier once again. Not only that, I got to write for one of my favourite characters from Doctor Who – Sergeant Benton – in a story that explores just how the members of UNIT are considered by their armed forces peers.”
Martin Baines and Richard Young are both on hand to provide the covers for Operation Wildcat and The Benton Files II
The cover for Operation Wildcat is by ever-popular Lethbridge-Stewart artist Martin Baines. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “It’s always a pleasure working with Martin. His creativity is second-to-none and our readers seem to appreciate his style.” The cover for The Benton Files 2 is by Candy Jar favourite Richard Young. Shaun continues: “As always Richard has done us proud. His work just gets better and better.”
The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories
Join Benton and the Brigadier in nine short stories looking at life in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Ever wondered what happened on Benton’s first official day in UNIT, or why he left to sell used cars? Ever wondered how Benton earned his sergeant stripes? Or what he got up to on his days off? How Does UNIT select new recruits? And what happens when the clean-up after an alien incursion goes wrong? In Operation Wildcat and Other Stories, you’ll find these things out – and a lot more.
Contributors include: Tim Gambrell, Simon A Brett, Iain McLaughlin, Sharon Bidwell, James Middleditch, Baz Greenland, Sarah Groenewegen and Jonathan Macho.
The Benton Files 2
It’s all in the mind… Or is it?
Retired Sergeant Major John Benton recounts two more tales of his experiences serving under Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. In The Lady Jessica Affair, by George Ivanoff, Benton and the Brigadier take tea with an apparently harmless elderly lady at her stately home – and end up defending the world. In Kenton Hall’s Life Assurance, life has apparently thrown a different set of circumstances John Benton’s way. But will he be able to find a path back to his true calling?
The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is up for pre-order now for £25 (+ p&p) directly from Candy Jar Books.
Note: The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is not included in any subscription or multi-book deal.