Stephen Cole (born 1971) (also credited as Steve Cole) is an English author of children's books and science fiction. He was also in charge of BBC Worldwide's merchandising of the BBC Television series Doctor Who between 1997 and 1999: this was a role which found him deciding on which stories should be released on video, commissioning and editing a range of fiction and non-fiction titles, producing audiobooks and acting as executive producer on the Big Finish Productions range of Doctor Who audio dramas.
In 2013 Ian Fleming Publications announced that Cole would continue the Young Bond series first penned by Charlie Higson, with four new books to further explore the life of the teenage James Bond. The first of these, Shoot to Kill, is scheduled for publication in the UK on 6 November 2014; Cole is credited as Steve Cole for this work.
Cole was brought up in rural Bedfordshire. He attended the University of East Anglia 1989-92 where he read English Literature and Film Studies, graduating his BA course with first class honours. After a brief stint working in local radio with BBC Radio Bedfordshire (now Three Counties) he became a junior assistant at BBC Children's Magazines in 1993. By 1996 he was Group Editor, Pre-School Magazines, managing a team and overseeing the production of various magazines and special editions. In summer 1996 he wrote his first children's books: Cars on Mars, Alien Olympics, School on Saturn and Mucky Martians, a collection of pop-up poetry books published by Levinson the following year.
Cole's counterpart in BBC Children's Books was Nuala Buffini two floors above, and the two often met for lunch and meetings. Cole's curiosity was piqued when he learned BBC Books were taking back the rights to publish Doctor Who fiction in the wake of the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie – and that Buffini would be commissioning for a new range of Eighth Doctor Adventures and Past Doctor Adventures until a dedicated staff member was recruited. Buffini was soon swamped with novel submissions and Cole's involvement with the range began with reading the slush pile. Having been a fan of Doctor Who all his life, when the position of Project Editor, Sci-Fi Titles was advertised, Cole applied and was successful.
Buffini had commissioned the first six books in the Eighth Doctor Adventures range, although one of these — Legacy of the Daleks — was held back for publication later on in the range to prevent two Dalek stories being published in consecutive months. This means that the first novel commissioned by Cole was actually the sixth published, Lawrence Miles' Alien Bodies. Cole also edited the BBC's Short Trips short story collections, for which he began to write under the pseudonyms of "Tara Samms" and "Paul Grice". He has since published other work under these pen-names, including the 2003 Doctor Who novella Frayed, part of a series published by Telos Publishing Ltd. He has also written several short stories and audio plays for Big Finish Productions. A clue to Samm's true identity can be found in the "About the author" section at the end of Frayed in which the author's insomniac dog is described with the enigmatic phrase "he slept once" — an anagram of "Stephen Cole".
In addition to the books he also commissioned and abridged stories for inclusion on various Doctor Who talking books and selected TV stories to be released on home video.