WRITER Eoin Colfer is the author of the first of 11 new 'Doctor Who' stories which are to be published to mark the 50th anniversary of the TV series this year.
It's a great honour for an Irish writer as 'Doctor Who' has been such an iconic part of the lives of children both here and in Britain. As adults, many are still fans and are fiercely protective of the 'Doctor Who' character.
Wexford-born Colfer, a former teacher, is the author of the 'Artemis Fowl' books for children, which are global bestsellers.
Choosing him to write the first of the new 'Doctor Who' stories is not surprising as he already has a high profile in the UK. Following the death of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' author Douglas Adams, Colfer was chosen by Adams's widow to write the new Hitchhiker novel, published last year.
The 'Doctor Who' books will be published every month from January to November this year.
Leading authors are taking part, but Colfer, who was born in 1965, is the first in the series, with his book titled 'A Big Hand for the Doctor' to be published globally in ebook form on January 23. There will be 11 books in the series because there have been 11 different Doctor Whos so far.
Colfer's story features the first Doctor, played by William Hartnell when the series began in 1963. The new story is set in London in 1900 and in it the Doctor loses both his hand and his granddaughter.
"When I started reading the 'Doctor Who' books we didn't have BBC TV at home in Wexford but, when I eventually saw it, the Doctor was exactly as I had imagined him," said Colfer.
"The original character was more of a curmudgeon and less of a quirky adventurer than the more recent Doctor Whos and I'm going back to that in the story. The original was a sort of Scrooge in Space. Also, my last book is set in Victorian times so that helped in setting this story in 1900s London." The Doctor Who Colfer best remembers as a child, when they eventually got BBC TV in Wexford, was Jon Pertwee, who played the doctor from 1970-74.
The 11 ebooks will also be published as a printed anthology in November.
The first 'Artemis Fowl' book was published in 2001 and was a huge success, allowing Colfer to resign from his teaching job.
The 'Artemis Fowl' series – described by one critic as "'Die Hard'" with fairies – has since sold over 20 million copies worldwide and concluded recently with 'The Last Guardian'.