Preview: ‘Defending Earth: The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith’

❉ M.H. Norris & Sophie Iles talk to We Are Cult about their Sarah Jane Smith charity anthology!

Last month, We Are Cult announced Defending Earth: The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith – an unofficial charity anthology featuring stories about one of the most beloved companions of all time, Sarah Jane Smith.

The ebook of Defending Earth is now available, and the anthology’s curator, M.H. Norris, told us a little about curating this short story collection and what it has meant to her:

Defending Earth truly is a passion project! It let me celebrate my favorite fictional character while raising money and awareness for a cause that has been near and dear to my heart for most of my life.

I first met Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion.” I laugh now, because at the time I didn’t realize the impact that woman would have on my life. While Sarah Jane Smith is my favorite fictional character, Elisabeth Sladen is one of my heroes. My hope was to celebrate this character that she spent so much of her life playing.

When Russell T Davies approached her about the Sarah Jane Adventures shortly after they filmed “School Reunion,” she asked him why he wanted to make a show about Sarah Jane. He simply told her, “The world needs more Sarah Jane.” And I think that’s just as true today. Unfortunately, cancer took Elisabeth Sladen from us far too soon. Since discovering Doctor Who and falling in love with her character, I’ve had the privilege of talking with some people who knew her. She was selfless, she was wonderful, and she had a fun sense of humor.

Putting this collection together has been such a fun adventure. Honestly, I believe it covers more of her life than any collection ever has. We go from a six-year-old Sarah Jane to one that shows what she’s up to in her 80s. There’s a story in the UNIT era, and a few with the Fourth Doctor. We check in on her in the Wilderness Years, and we can’t forget The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Defending Earth features stories from Joshua Wanisko, Kara Dennison, Sophie Iles, James Bojaciuk, Niki Haringsma, Jon Black, and many more.

Every single author came to this collection to share how they see Sarah Jane Smith. It was fun getting to work with some people whose work I admire so much. Josh Wanisko co-wrote his story with his daughter which made an already wonderful story that much more special. The award-winning historical fiction author, Jon Black, gave us a feature-length Third Doctor story. Kara Dennison shows us all the trouble that a little Sarah Jane can get into when she’s stuck inside to recover from being sick. James Bojaciuk writes a story full of the wonder and majesty that can be found in the universe (even in the midst of saving every universe). And while there are many writers you might not know yet, I’m so excited I get to introduce them to you! Everyone did amazing work with their stories!

The proceeds for this collection will be going to the Cancer Research Institute in loving memory of Elisabeth Sladen, who died of cancer in April 2011.

When looking for a charity, I knew I wanted to do something with cancer research. I lost my grandmother to cancer when I was very little and have spent a good chunk of my life helping to raise money and awareness to the cause. The Cancer Research Institute is doing some amazing, groundbreaking work and when I read about them I got excited. In the last couple of months, their Scientific Director won a Nobel Prize for his work in Immunotherapy! Buying Defending Earth donates that much more money to help them continue their work!

All of Defending Earth’s art, cover and interiors, is by Sophie Iles, who says:

Sarah Jane Smith is one of my favourite fictional characters. She’s everything you want in a heroine, smart and funny, with soft edges and willing to take on the world to do the right thing.

When I had the opportunity to pitch my idea to Mary-Helen, I never thought I would seriously get the chance to do something as special as I have for this anthology. Not only do I get to write Sarah Jane during her adventures on Bannerman Road, I had the chance to explore a ‘what if’ story that has been on my mind for at least three years. Along side some marvellous writers who I am lucky to class as my friends.

And then they landed me the bombshell and asked me to do all the interior and cover art work. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

The e-book of Defending Earth was released on 17 February and the physical paperback will be available in mid-March. Both editions can be ordered via https://defendingearth.bigcartel.com/.


❉ Curated by M.H. Norris, the ebook of ‘Defending Earth: The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith’ is available here: https://defendingearth.bigcartel.com/ The link also allows pre-order for the hard copy, available in mid-March.

Check back in to M.H. Norris’ Facebook page for further updates.

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