Behind the Scenes

The Secret of Grim Hill

My grandmother used to tell me stories – cool stories, scary stories, and tales from a long time ago. From her, I learned that danger + mystery + adventurous thrills =my favourite kind of books. I also like to read and write stories that are spooky – not flat out scary like a Godzilla movie though J

While watching a soccer game, I began to get an idea for my own story. What if a Halloween soccer match had a lot more at stake than winning the game? What if there was something diabolical going on?

That’s when the characters sprang into my head. Cat has just moved to a new town and has trouble fitting in, so she’ll do almost anything to make the team and win the soccer match. She has to be extremely brave to put her dream on hold and figure out the mystery surrounding the strange hill in town. The idea of her little sister Sookie, who is rather mysterious herself, jumped into my head almost at the same time. I had all the pieces after that, so it was time to put the puzzle together and create THE SECRET OF GRIM HILL.

Grim Hill: The Secret Deepens

Back in the 1920s, my grandmother drove to the states to see a magic show. I like to picture her cranking up a Model T Ford, wearing a driving coat and goggles, but I’m not sure that’s what she wore. She would have had to trundle down dirt roads at a roaring 25 kilometres an hour.

Once she arrived, she sat in a velvet armchair in a theatre with sparkling crystal chandeliers, gold wallpaper and painted ceilings. She was close to the stage. The famous magician appeared and began to mesmerize my grandmother with his act. Remember this was before special effects, and even talking movies.

For his last act, the magician’s beautiful assistant lifted up her blonde hair and knelt down, sliding her head into a guillotine and exposing her tender neck to the razor sharp blade. The magician draped her head with a cloth and hit a lever. The blade plummeted down, made a slicing sound and then there was a thunk in the basket. The magician held out the basket for the audience to see, then he threw what was inside the basket into the audience.

They screamed. It landed on my grandmother’s lap. She screamed bloody murder, (her words, not mine, even though she was not a lady given to profanity.) As she scrunched her eyes and began to swoon, the person sitting beside her told her to take a look in her lap. Mustering her courage, my grandmother looked down at a cabbage head.

My grandmother had gone to see the Great Houdini.

As a kid, I watched a movie about Houdini – it was really cool. I remember a scene where it was Halloween, and Houdini was invited to join the secret society of magicians. The movie hinted mysteriously that Houdini wasn’t making stage magic, but that he had mystical powers. Naturally, I was quite disappointed when I discovered this was a Hollywood addition and had never happened. Still…If some magicians had real magic, where do you suppose they got that magic from?

I can make a guess…