A new book for tweens, A Haunting at Richelieu High: A Penny Dreadful Investigation, ushers readers into the world of freshman KC Watson, and follows along as she tells the story of her encounters with an intriguingly odd new student at her school.
When Penelope Dredalus arrived at Richelieu High wearing dark clothes and a gloomy expression, it didn’t take long for her to earn the nickname “Penny Dreadful.” Penelope’s paranormal tendencies bring a mysterious element to her new stomping grounds. She might even cause the spirit of a girl who died at the high school 40 years before to return as a poltergeist. KC Watson’s curiosity causes her to seek out Penelope, and eventually befriend her. This coming of age tale is about friendship, changes, and of course, ghosts and mystery.
Author Bob Berry said he took the name “Penny Dreadful” from 19th Century Great Britain, where published booklets full of lurid tales of vampires, ghosts, and other creepy things were sold for a penny each, and thus known as “Penny Dreadfuls.”
“I’ve wanted to create a character with that name for many years and in some of her earliest concepts my ‘Penny Dreadful’ was to be a comic strip,” said Berry. It was from reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories that he got the idea to have a character named KC Watson narrate his novel—an act of homage to the original Dr. Watson.
While A Haunting at Richelieu High is Berry’s first novel, he is an accomplished artist and has included several of his illustrations in this book, as well as designing the cover.
He said, “I’ve been drawing all my life; at least since I was able to hold a pencil.” Berry remembers the influence comic books had on him as a child. He taught himself how to draw by copying the techniques of comic book artists like Russ Manning, Frank Frazetta, Alex Toth, Bernie Wrightson, Dave Stevens, and Mike Mignola.
Berry has written a couple short stories and comic books in the past, but wanted to try his hand at writing a novel. When his children heard the first few pages and wanted to know what happened next, he knew he was on to something. He has already begun the first stages of his next Penny Dreadful book, which will pick up where his first left off and dig deeper into his gloomy protagonist’s character.
He promised his 9-year-old son that he will write a “boy’s book” too, so he is working on that as well.
Berry recently illustrated the children’s book, Watch Me Draw Robots, which will be available in October, and is currently working on the art for How to Draw Magical, Monstrous & Mythological Creatures due out July 2011. Both books are part of Walter Foster’s line of art instructional books.
Purchase your copy of A Haunting at Richelieu High today!