While some may look down their noses at tie-in novels or view them as lesser works when compared to fully-fledged literary works; the genre serves a valid purpose – they get children reading.
Doctor Who author Cavan Scott – who has co-written Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany with Mark Wright (due for release 2nd May) – argues that as a gateway to a whole world of literature, nothing beats the Tie-in Novel:
A while ago I heard about a school that asked their pupils to dress up as their favourite book character for World Book Day. One boy came dressed as Optimus Prime, which drew comments in the playground. It was supposed to be book characters, not toys or cartoons. The lad himself was confused. Optimus Prime was in his favourite book, the Transformers Annual. He read it every day.
Good for Optimus Prime, I say.
If kids start reading because they love Transformers or Star Wars or Doctor Who or Skylanders or The Beano then brilliant. They’re reading.
Through his own childhood of reading and re-reading some of the classic tie-in Doctor Who novels – most of which were written by the legendary, peerless Terrance Dicks – Scott has charged licensors to come up better and better products for active imaginations:
As licensors, licensees, publishers and writers we have to make sure that our tie-in books are the best they can be. If we get them right, they might just spark a love for reading that will last a lifetime.
However, it’s not just with new products where the benefits lie. Those licenced novels are key to opening open new and exciting pathways to other fiction staples:
Thanks to Doctor Who and the State of Decay (by Terrance Dicks, naturally) I picked up Dracula. I discovered Sherlock Holmes short stories in the hunt for something a bit like Doctor Who and The Talons of Weng Chiang (Dicks again). Because of Doctor Who novels I went on to read Douglas Adams, Tolkien, Dicks (Philip K. not Terrance this time) and Robert Louis Stephenson. Those slim, TV novelisations fanned the flame of a book addiction that lasts to this very day.
That’s why I think children’s tie-in books are vitally important and I get upset when people are sniffy about them.
Why? Because sometimes sometimes a tie-in book is the only thing some kids will read.
Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany written by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright is pre-order from Amazon now for release on the 2nd May for £8.96 (reduced from the RRP of £12.99).