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by DerekH 

Posted: 27 August 2004
Word Count: 2310
Summary: This is the prologue and first chapter of my first attempt at writing a book. Now revised. All feedback more than welcome...

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High on a haunted hill, in the boughs of a twisted tree, the white owl blinked awake. Turning his head fully around, he blinked again, hooted his most deathly hoot, and sat as still as old stone, watching in disbelief. Through arcs and swirls of wizened limbs, far from the edge of the forest and out beyond the open fields, bathed in cold blue moonlight, he alone saw them go; a hundred maybe more, skipping through the gloom. Their tiny coats like so many dancing Christmas lanterns, the children of Vloekenville left the fields and wound their way along the grey mountain path. Up and up they danced, hand in hand to a silent tune, high into the candyfloss mist and across the castle bridge. The owl hooted his alarm once more, but nobody heard.

Chapter one - A desperate row

“You are all too kind,” cried the Mayor “too kind, too kind. Very well, if you insist, I shall say just a few words but then I really must be off. Ah, if only I had a little more time to spend with you, the people that really matter, but…his Majesty is in dire need of my help, trouble in the eastern trading posts that simply will not wait and, as his Majesty always says, who else is such an authority and can maintain a cool head in these most complicated matters. But I digress, I have just one more thing to say to you, my people… my peop…err… my…what the Devil?”

The Mayor had been somewhat taken aback and greatly offended by what he considered to be a very rude interruption. Some fool, or so the Mayor had judged, was rapping at the doors to the great hall, hammering as though the king himself demanded entry. Of course the crowd’s attention instantly shifted to the doors, and this infuriated the Mayor most of all.

“Guardsmen, send this joker packing, whoever he is, now! Guards! GUARDS!”

But the guardsman on his left began laughing; laughing and pointing; pointing at the Mayor without so much as an ounce of respect. And the guard to the Mayor’s right had sat on the floor and was struggling to control his own laughter, which was slightly muffled due to his mouth being stuffed full of candy apple. A sweat formed on the Mayor’s forehead, he looked sharply from left to right, at first in anger but then again in disbelief. A pike-man, over by the great doors, dropped his pike and fell to his knees in a fit of uncontrollable giggles, and seeing this, it wasn’t long before the crowd were joining in with the contagious fun; all laughing, laughing until they were rolling, rolling from their seats and writhing on the floor. And the hammering, it wouldn’t stop hammering. The Mayor’s ears were ringing. And he couldn’t stop the ringing; or the hammering. And he couldn’t understand it. Not any of it.

“Stop it!” he wailed, “Cease this instant! I will not have this… I will not tolerate…I… I… Iyeee… Iyaarrgh!” The Mayor sprang out of bed like a cuckoo from a clock.

He rubbed his eyes and tried to make some sense of his surroundings. The only crowd now were the two rag dolls at the foot of the bed, their sewn on smiles mingled with the laughing faces that had still not faded from his waking mind. He scratched his head, trying to work it out, shuffled across the bedroom floor and lit a candle on the mantle above the open fireplace. Looking in the dusty old mirror he breathed a sigh of relief at his own, weathered and worn out, reflection. The room behind his reflection looked somehow different in the mirror, it seemed so empty. The dolls still grinned at him and his head was thumping, but the dreadful laughing had stopped, thank heavens.

“Just another dream,” he mumbled “Oh my head! This speech will be the death of me…the death…hahum… slippers?…where the?...”

The Mayor wandered around the room, his bare feet padding on the wooden boards, trying to find his slippers. His head still thumped and, when his ageing brain finally awoke, a dreadful realisation occurred to him. The dream had stopped but the hammering hadn’t. It had started again. RAP! RAP! RAP! rapping at the front door. And voices, shrill voices, not laughing this time but chanting and shouting. The mayor almost jumped out of his nightshirt.

Again, RAP! RAP! RAP! RAP!

The mayor made straight for the window and teased back a corner of the red velvet curtain. As he twitched the curtain the noise became more frantic, too many competing voices assaulting his ears. He could barely distinguish one from another.

“We know you can hear us” one voice shouted above the others.

“We’re not goin’ ‘ome!” seemed to be a sentiment shared by all.

“Smoke him out!” was the common chant, the undercurrent that lifted the individual assaults up to his window.

But worse than the noise, what the mayor saw through the gap in the curtains made him tremble all over. He dare not draw them back further in case things looked worse still. What he did see, was a furious and rabid looking mob, assembled on the cobbled street, right outside his front door. Their pitchforks and scythes gleamed in the flaming torchlight, casting haunting shadows across a hundred leathery faces. Eyes all red and bulging from their weary, sunken sockets; with deep lined brows glistening, the villagers were here on serious business.

The mayor had no choice but to see to them. He drew back the curtain and, opening the carved window shutter, he leaned out to address them.

“How dare you?” the Mayor declared in his most officious voice “How the devil dare you disturb my sleep. You will leave this instant or my guards will…”

“How dare we?” a tall young farmer stepped forward “Disturb your sleep,” his voice began to tremble. “How can you s-s-sleep this n-night? How will we ever sleep again? How, H…” His voice cracked into a sob and the rest of the crowd simmered down.

The Mayor, not normally one for compassion, couldn’t help but listen as the young man struggled to find words through his tears.

“They’re all gone! Every one!,” the farmer continued with a shocked expression, as though the saying of it had brought back that moment of horrific realisation, “We warned you before… but you didn’t listen, and now, now is too late, too late for warnings, “They’re gone…GONE!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…be calm,” the Mayor replied, “Slow down young man. What is gone? The sheep, cows? I’ll not tolerate cattle thieves! You can be sure of that. It will be dealt with tomorrow, now go ho…”

“THE CHILDREN,” came a frustrated voice from the back of the crowd “The children are gone you fat oaf of a Mayor.”

“We warned you about the Count,” added another, as the crowd whipped themselves back into a frenzied state, “We warned you, and what did you do… Nothing! And now they’re gone. This is your fault!”

“Get down from your fancy window box. Our children are gone!”

“Drag ‘im down!”

“Burn ‘im down, more like!”

“Burn ‘im down,” began the new chant, now much louder than before. “Burn ‘im down, burn ‘im down…”

The crowd pushed forward, pitchforks rattling. The Mayor had been caught off guard.

“Children gone?” he thought, “The Count?”

The mayor understood what was going on here. The townsfolk had petitioned him for years to send troops to the old castle and arrest the elderly count that lived there. They believed the old folk tales about the count, and feared for their children, but the Mayor had done nothing, in truth he feared that his troops would not return.

He looked down at his round belly and wrestled his thumbs together. He considered his options, stroked his grey moustache and, looking up again, he addressed the crowd once more.

“Hear this!” he stated with authority “At first light, my guards will be ordered to search the forest. And, if any man returns without a child in hand he will have me to answer to!” He ended with his forefinger high in the air, and a very pleased and noble look about his face.

At that moment the first torch hit the window shutter. Sparks flew across the Mayor’s face, singeing his grey curls. More followed, bouncing off the sill. The mayor recoiled, and slammed the shutters together, shaking like a leaf. But the riot didn’t stop. The shutters flinched and split under the attack.

“Under siege!” the mayor exclaimed to himself “Oil, I need boiling oil… you old fool, no time for boiling confounded…Hah!, better still!...” He reached under the bed, searching franticly for the bedpan.

“Stay in your fancy house and we’ll melt your fat,” one villager insisted.

The Mayor paid no heed.

“You’ll help us now or we’ll string you up from the oak tree!” bellowed another.

The Mayor had heard these threats before. He paused for a moment and pondered whether the oak tree would hold his weight. In his minds eye, the branch snapped, and he saw himself strolling away through a very defeated looking lynch mob. He was still enjoying this distraction when an old man’s voice, not loud or excited, but very distinct, cut sharply through the rabble.

“You might spare us your ear a while longer, if it were yer own two spoiled brats that were gone.”

The Mayor stopped, with one arm still under the bed, and rested his head on the mattress. A glaze covered his eyes, doubt crossed his mind, and terror shook his soul. He bolted out of his bedroom and bounded across the candlelit landing. Stopping for a second outside his children’s bedroom door, he took one deep breath, turned the knob, and stepped inside.

The world slowed to a halt, a gust of ice cold air from the open window told him that this was no dream. Tears rolled down his face and up his nose, he fell to his knees. The small wooden beds were empty, the window shutters clattered, and the red curtains blew into the room, billowing and cracking like a blazing fire. The Mayor found a second wind, dashed for the open window and thrust half his body out into the starlit night.

“VALENTINA!” he wailed “CARMINA!” he cried; over and over until he could do nothing but sob,“ My beautiful twins, my little prince-ess-ses…” He slid back into the room, un-dug his finger nails from the sill, and slowly, as though in sleepwalk, paced back to his own room. He opened his window once more.

“They’re gone,” he spoke softly “Gone.”

The crowd fell silent. A cloud moved across the grinning moon, and the rain began. A shrill wind sailed over the heads of the mob, extinguishing every torch before it rushed up to the Mayor’s dazed and confused face, slapping him back to reality.

An old man, dressed as though he had expected a storm to howl through the night, pushed slowly past the drenched shirtsleeves of the others, until he stood directly below the mayor’s window. Turning up the front of his hat, he first lit his long pipe, and then in the same slow, calm, tobacco soaked voice that had grabbed the mayor’s attention earlier, he delivered these words.

“Gone the same way as our own, no doubt; gone where, if truth be told, none of us dare go. Not even to save our own kin”

These words caused some whispered mumbling through the crowd.

“Aye, not a one of you! Nor I, shamed as I am,” returned the old man, “Less any man here wants to step forward now?”

The other villagers turned their heads to their toes.

The old man continued, “The Castle has haunted our dreams for too long. The old tales tell of a night same as this and I am old enough to remember what many have tried to forget,” he paused to draw on his pipe, “Aye, this has happened before, and it will happen yet again. The children are drawn to that dreaded place. No one has seen so much as a glimpse of the count since I was a child, but I’ll wager he still dwells there, not one day older.
Only the little ones can hear the sound that rolls down the haunted mountain. I know because I heard it, once, so many years ago; cheering and laughing, pipe organs and drums, a carnival it was; a carnival and no mistake. Ah that scent, the air was filled with it; hot sugar, so sweet,” he stopped for a moment, as though tasting the air, “we must bring our children back; and put an end to him, Count Sichliar!”

The sound of this name caused an audible ripple of terror throughout the crowd, and those nearest the old man, backed away.

The Mayor lifted his head from his hands, “But what can we do? What can I do? My own guards are so afraid to set a foot near the mountain; they would rather face execution in the Kings court than go there! And maybe that will be their fate, but that won’t help us. No one can help us!”

Far away on the horizon, lightening struck the haunted mountain. The old castle now a giant silhouette, its jagged towers seemed to grow taller and lean out over the terrified crowd. The villagers cowered and ducked, covering their heads. Only the old man seemed un-moved.

“There is one who can,” the old man replied, “Though I know not how to find him.”

“I will find him,” the Mayor blurted out frantically, “Who is this hero?”

“His name is Foyste,” said the old man, “Hugo Foyste.”

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Comments by other Members

roger at 07:50 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
Well, Derek, I don't think you have any reason to be scared about uploading this, though I can imagine loads of children being scared as they read it. I hope Hugo knows what he's about!

I really liked the intro, leaving me as it did wanting to know what the hell was going on, which is exactly what a good intro should do. And the main text drives along nicely, leaving us needing to know exactly what has happened to the children, with some really nice touches, '...flew out of his bed like a cuckoo from a clock' being an example.

As always with early drafts, a bit of tidying is needed - eg punctuation in speech seems to be a problem. Also, para 4 'cease, this, instant' doesn't need the commas...maybe one after 'cease' if you're trying to show hesitation, and the last word in para 5 should, I think, be 'heaven' not 'heavens'.'...elderly Count that lived there' should be 'who' lived there etc etc. But this is just minor editing stuff....important, but easy to deal with.

All in all, I think this is good with the potential to be a real page turner. I hope there's a twist, and that the Count is innocent!

So, as I said at the start, no need to be scared, none at all; and welcome to WW.

word`s worth at 08:40 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
Derek - just passing by here and I started and I had to finish. I know nothing about children's books or writing for children (I half wish I did sometimes) but I kept in mind how this would read to a 10 year old upwards - maybe 8 years up (my daughter is ten and I think she would enjoy something like this). It certainly has the feel of The Pied Piper of Hamlin about it (a story which I loved to read when I was little). I like your descriptive qualities - it's not talking down to children in its simplicity. I particularly liked the beginning with the owl hooting in alarm and no one hearing it - it gave the distinct feeling that something spooky was going on and was a great opening for the story. Then the realisation that the mayor was dreaming - before reality took over again.

I don't know about children...but I enjoyed it!

Best wishes


DerekH at 12:00 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
I'm so happy to have received such fantastic comments already.

Punctuation has never been one of my strong points, so I really welcome those comments. It will help me a lot. I don't know whether I should correct as I go or wait until the end though. What approach do most writers take?

Most importantly, I'm glad you both enjoyed the story, It's very encouraging. I will post another chapter soon.


DerekH at 12:35 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
A couple of things I forgot to put in my last post..

I'd love to know what your daughter thinks of the story Nahed. I have no idea what age I'm aiming this at, I'm just writing it as it comes out. So if you decide to read it to her, please let me know :)

Also forget to say a big thank you to both you and Roger. It's been a while since I added more to the story but now I'm dying to get stuck in again.


old friend at 14:43 on 28 August 2004  Report this post

This is truly good writing... interesting, well-paced and with some very nice phrases. The fact that the general storyline (so far) owes much to well-known stories such as the Pied Piper, Dracula and some scenes from the films of Danny Kaye, matters little for I am sure your story will develop along 'new' plot lines.

The important question is whether you can write and write well. You have my vote even though you are now 104 years of age! However, do read your work very carefully and then re-read it for punctuation and typos.

Anyway, your first chapter is a winner!


roger at 15:39 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
Hi again, Derek; regarding whether or not to deal with punctuation/typos as you go along or wait til the end, that depends very much on how YOU feel about it. If you do it as you go along, you won't have a major job at the end, but if the story teller in you wants to plough on and get the basic story out first, that's fine. Just boils down to personal choice.

DerekH at 16:08 on 28 August 2004  Report this post
Thanks again Roger, I will keep an eye on it as I go along, or I will have one giant heap of mistakes to correct at the end.

Thanks to you too Len, for the very positive comments. I'm glad you made those comparisons. I'm much older than 104 to be honest...but they wouldn't let me choose an earlier date ;).

Thanks again,


scottwil at 02:40 on 30 August 2004  Report this post
Yes, Derek, a good strong prologue and a well-paced opening chapter. I like all the touches of humour and the character of the mayor is great fun with his tendancy to be side-tracked at the most inopportune moments. I think kids will enjoy this. Plot-wise it's a little familiar but I think that's OK too if there enough surprises and twists.
Look forward to seeing where you take this.


DerekH at 00:14 on 31 August 2004  Report this post
Thanks Sion, I've posted another chapter, but this is a long tale...so probably still won't show where the story is going.

I'm happy that, so far, people don't see the familiar stuff as a problem, much of it is deliberate and I hope that will come across more when the book is finished (though I also kind of hope that a lot of kids won't spot the cliches). I don't know how original the overall plot is, but as far as I'm aware, it's straight out of my head. Hopefully it will take this familiar sounding tale down a different and unexpected path.

Thank you for the great comments.


Sue H at 15:26 on 31 August 2004  Report this post
This is really good. I'm so glad you decided to put it on the site! It's a bit like Frankenstein meets the Grinch! It's really well written and I loved the Mayor's character. Lots of comic potential there. I'm off to read chapters 2 & 3 to find out about that Count!!

DerekH at 16:03 on 31 August 2004  Report this post
Thanks Sue... I'm really glad you liked it. And once again I'm really pleased about the comparisons; makes me feel like I did something right in setting the scene.


Gabbie at 17:26 on 31 August 2004  Report this post
I was chuckling after a few lines of this. The character of the mayor is very well developed right from the start - I only hope he is a major player all the way through. The first chapter has intrigued me enough to want to read more. I have a real soft spot for good children's fiction. I'm off to have a look at Chs 2 and 3.

Keep writing - you have nothing to be scared about - although I can sympathise. I felt the same way the first time I put a piece on the site. Welcome.


DerekH at 17:47 on 31 August 2004  Report this post
Hope you like the next bit too...thanks for the reply. Everyone on here has been so welcoming that I got my dusty old wallet out and joined in full :)


Sue at 12:53 on 01 September 2004  Report this post
HI Derek,

Just doing a bit of 'browsing', noticed the new group and the bit about your story. Read the intro and part of 1st chapter. I like it. Keep going.

Silverelli at 17:53 on 04 September 2004  Report this post
Hey Derek,
you are quite the storyteller. You know your market. This is definitely a winner so far for ages 8-13. Funny how everyone is commenting on the familiarity of the plot, and no one has mentioned Children of The Corn. That's what sprang to my mind at first. But, it has the comic relief that C.O.T.C. lacks.

The Mayor is excellent. He would make a great Disney character on the Silver Screen.

The plot is moving along at just the right pace and the way you describe what's happening puts me back into my 13 year old shoes.
My only suggestions: Make this story your own, surprise us, knock us off our seats and make Hugo a strong a character as Mayor and I think you may be on to something. I will read more and expect to see a great story unfold.


Terry Edge at 21:00 on 04 September 2004  Report this post

Welcome to the group and well done for being brave enough to post some work. For a first book this is very good. It's full of infectious enthusiasm, which is a huge plus for a writer. The technical stuff can be learned, but a sense of excitement in one's work can't really. This bounds along, full of action and low on introspection, which is generally as it should be in a children's fantasy novel. You also write very visually, almost as if describing a film.

Great way to start – through the eyes of an owl: heightens the mystery. Probably better to call it a Prologue, or nothing at all, rather than Introduction, which is something that the author would include that's outside the actual story, i.e. telling us why he wrote the book, or what his references are.

My main comment would be to suggest you think about doing some modernisations. I don't mean making the story PC, hip, liberal-bland – do keep the black and white fun of it. But so far the setting and characters are a little fairy-tale predictable: the portly mayor, the blood-thirsty, torch-bearing, mob, the stolen children, the wise old man … Think about ways you can make these images/characters take on a new twist. Modern readers are now used to contradictions in their fictional characters, even in a fairy tale. Partly, this process depends on the length of your book. If it's a short novel (say around 20,000 words), you could get away better with maintaining a more old-fashioned approach, where the characters strongly serve the story. But if it's going to be longer than that, then I feel you need to give your characters more depth and unpredictability.

But this is full of promise and has great pace.


DerekH at 12:17 on 05 September 2004  Report this post
Hi all, Great comments and good advice, thank you very much.

I'm glad you found another, darker, comparison Adam. It is a familiar theme, but yes I will be putting in a twist and adding some fresh plot lines to it...I hope.

I had been wondering about the term 'Introduction' Terry, having noticed that I'm the only one on this site that has used the term instead of prologue; I guess that really does show my inexperience. Will change that very soon.

Thanks also for the advice on the stereotypical characters Terry. I do have some twists ahead which may change the personalities of the characters from the norm, but their physical descriptions, roles in the story, and also the scene, are hard for me to change. This is partly because I'm writing as I see it in my mind without trying too hard to conjure up the scene, and I'm not sure what would happen if I try to force myself to change things for the sake of being different (I will give it a try though). The other reason is that when I decided to start the book, and put together the outline of the plot, I wanted the setting and the characters to be reminiscent of old horror movies but with a fairy tale kind of enchantment added, with lots of old cliches; so some things (like the torch-bearing mob) are there deliberately to set that scene.

Having said that, I will look hard at what I write and watch out for chances to change anything that is too stereotypical.

It's great to get all this advice and feedback. I have a lot to learn. I will do some fixes and upload again, including chapters 2&3 next time.


Anj at 13:29 on 25 September 2004  Report this post

This has an assured feel to it - like Terry, I think it's very visual, and personally I love visual, as I think kids do. You've uploaded this in Young Adults, but is this aimed more at younger children?

I found the language of the Introduction a bit impenetrable - just me, but I think kids might get bogged down in it, and then pursue it no further, which is such a shame. I also thought the Mayor needed to be condensed considerably (sorry), but as he's not (I hope) going to be our hero, I didn't feel he should take up so much space or time. I felt he was blocking our route to the real story.

Once it gets going, it's great. I liked the fact that there were some recognisable cliches going on here - to me, that added a sly humour, and meant I could easily (and children too, I would think) see what was laid before me.

And what was laid before me was a treat. Off to read the rest.

Take care

DerekH at 14:50 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
Thanks Andrea, I haven't been back to this for a while, having spent most of my writing time on flash since joining WW. I'm going to read it over again and see what I think now. I will keep your comments in mind as I go through.

I'm not aiming it at very young children, I'd like to think (maybe foolishly) it would appeal to anyone with the ability to read and understand it. I do realise the need to target an audience though, so I felt it would be best for 10 year olds to young adults (and even some adults like me)...hence the group. Also, the beginning is a little more childish than the rest, simply because of the mayors comical character I think; it will get much more scary later, possibly too much for very young kids...(and as you say, they might not comprehend some of it)...

I have to say I'm really pleased with the intro/prologue, it's the one part that I will stick to my guns about. (though the punctuation may need a revision...:). One thing I've been thinking about is that the first chapter is also the prologue in a way...so maybe the two parts should be linked under that heading.

Thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you like the next part.


Anj at 15:13 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
You say it, and stick to your guns ... just my opinion (this seems an inversion of another conversation we had recently)

DerekH at 15:51 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
:) ... Yeah, and you took my comments so well. I hope by saying I'm stickin to me guns, I didn't sound like I wasn't ready to listen. I'm really pleased to get the feedback from you Andrea, and I take every word on board. I hope you can find time to read the next chapters, and gimmee some more feedback. I need all the help I can get...sock it to me!


Anj at 15:56 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
No, you didn't sound like that at all. I think "one" should consider every comment, but you can't please all the people all the time, so at the end of the day it's "one's" writerly perogative to decide which to go with. After all, it's all soooo subjective ... will make time to read your other chapters

Incidentally, I was quite touched (and very impressed) that you'd bothered comparing, rather than just abandoning

DerekH at 16:05 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
I'll be reading the rest of yours too... That's what this place is all about eh. Thanks again... (we're gonna get told off for using the comment box as a chatroom soon):).

ShayBoston at 08:13 on 11 October 2004  Report this post

How are you? Good, good. That's the formalities out of the way.

I knew this existed, but didn't think it would be my thing or that I could offer constructive crit.

Anyway, in response to your forum post I've read the first bit and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now that's not important to you I realise. You want to know if the bin lids will like it. When I'll come back to that. I just wanted to say from my own viewpoint as a reader I felt the prologue set the scene brilliantly and the first chapter was excellent and shows great promise for the rest of the novel. The story (so far) is not entirely original; it's brought a few things to mind for others (Pied Piper, etc) for me it was reminiscent of the second part of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. The writing is very fluent. The only thing I would pick you up on is a word used twice but spelt different ways (franticly / frantically). I checked in the OED and it can be spelt both ways, but I would have spelt it frantically.

OK. I'm not sure which age group you have in mind for this, but I have two boys aged 10 and 8 and a girl aged 6. My eldest son is into football and WWE, so I'm sure he wouldn't sit and read it or even listen to it, but he'd probably watch the DVD! My younger son and my daughter would probably enjoy this early part, but of course I don't know how the story develops eg. if it gets darker. I'll try to get them all to sit down tonight and read it to them. If you want I'll let you know their reaction (but children can be brutal, mine especially!)


DerekH at 09:15 on 11 October 2004  Report this post
Shay, it was great to hear that cavalry bugle. Thanks for your kind words, I'm glad you liked it. It's very good of you to offer to test it on the family...much appreciated.

As for the kids' opinions...I don't mind getting a kicking.

Cheers mate,


Colin-M at 09:36 on 11 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Derek

I've got to say, I'm impressed. I tore through this and the other pages are sitting on-screen, behind this one, waiting to be read. I agree with Sion about the humour; it brings a likeable pomposity to the mayer. He reminds me of a mixture of Harold Bishop from Neighbours and the Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas. In fact, the latter comparison is the better, as this first chapter has a very seasonal approach: it feels like a Hallowe'en or Christmas story. There is a real sense of horror here, and you've set up the baddy (the count) with absolute ease. I can appreciate people comaparing this to the Pied Piper, but I wouldn't let that worry you. I would recommend a re-read of the original poem though; it's far darker than most people recall, and has several vampire references.

All in all, a good, funny, scary first chapter. The only bit I didn't like was the idea of the children dancing off - it brought back images of Kate Greenaway's illustrations for the pied piper. Ugh!

Colin M

DerekH at 10:08 on 11 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Colin

Your 'seasonal approach' comment has made me very happy. If I have created that atmosphere, I'm very pleased. I know there are similarities in this to many other stories, at least at this stage. I don't want to be unoriginal, but those stories are all so wonderful to me...

Thank you very much for reading, and for those great comments.


Davy Skyflyer at 14:19 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Ezy Derek –

Guess what – it’s me! You hadn’t given up had you? Anyway, I really enjoyed this first chapter. A lot of things have been said, but I kinda like the stereotyped setting and characters.

Terry’s advice is all you need, but I like the idea of a familiar setting and plotline with original character twists, like the Rob Reiner film “The Princess Bride”. Have you seen it? Coz this reminded me of that, and I get where Len is coming from with the Danny Kaye style thang. That kinda ‘40’s Technicolor, with larger than life characters and world. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen “The Princess Bride” get up now and start walkin’ to the local video shop!

There is an issue with editing (a bit wordy here and there) but I’d leave that til first draft is finished if I were you. I have very little experience to offer, but that’s what I tend to do now for what it’s worth!

I like the set up and can’t wait to meet this hero, I’m hoping he’s gonna be following this feel: familiar, yet original and funny!

As for age group, kids’ll love it. They don’t pick up on stereotypes – just check out Harry Potter!!

Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed this and am looking forward to reading more! Glad I plugged my novel, coz now I’ve got this! ;)



DerekH at 14:36 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Blimey you showed up!! ;)...only joking. Thanks for reading, Dav. I think you took it in the spirit it was intended. I'll look out for that film.

I'm glad you enjoyed it so far. Thanks for the encouragement.


ShayBoston at 20:56 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Derek,

I couldn't get the lads to sit down, but my six year old daughter loved it. She kept reading the Mayor's dialogue with me!


DerekH at 21:18 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
:) :) :). Thanks for that Shay, and thanks to your daughter.

I'm glad she liked it. Unfortunately I think that later on it gets too scary for 6 year olds... but then I don't have kids..or remember being 6, so I may be wrong.

Cheers for taking the time to do that mate. Owe you one.


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