As the summer slowly draws to a close, local author PJ Bracegirdle’s latest literary project is sure to distract even the most distressed middle grade student from the apprehension of beginning a new school year.
With its mix of satire and slightly frightening narrative, The Joy of Spooking should please young and old alike.
On August 5, the long-time NDG resident released the first book of his newest children’s series, The Joy of Spooking- the earliest volume in the Fiendish Deeds trilogy. The collection, which Bracegirdle plans to release over three years, combines a frightening narrative with a touch of satire, offering an entertaining read for younger and older audiences alike. The title is set in the dark and dreary town of Spooking- ‘the terrible town on the hideous hill’-where Joy Wells, an eleven-year-old horror fan lives with her eccentric family. Described as a crumbling and desolate community that sits above the plastic suburban paradise of Darlington, Spooking is depicted as the rundown and lifeless remains of a neighbourhood that once boasted fashionably ornate houses and landscaped yards. “A lot of the sights and sounds I did take directly from NDG and Westmount and I was really happy to do that,” explained Bracegirdle during a recent interview with The Monitor from his NDG home. “There is something about the neighbourhood that really lends itself to that kind of gothic horror feel- I don’t know if everyone can see it, but the big brooding trees and the old architecture as beautiful as it is, is kind of creepy.” A creepy aura coupled with an alluring plot, The Joy of Spooking offers a fresh read. With a female heroine and an aging punk rocker villain, Bracegirdle’s ability to craft memorable characters while covering a wide range of equally engaging subject matter is testimony to his skill as a distinguished writer. Having studied journalism at Concordia University for some time before trying his hand at technical writing, Bracegirdle admits becoming an author was always something that interested him. It was only after the birth of his first child, now 12 years old, that he began to seriously consider writing children’s books. “It seems like everyone says that as soon as you have a child, you feel a children’s book just crawling through you,” he laughed. “So like everyone else I had those same kinds of feelings." Encouraged by his wife Susan’s work as a talented children’s illustrator, Bracegirdle was able to break into the publishing world through contacts she had made developing her own career, and eventually managed to get editors south of the border to start looking at his work. “Luckily enough things came together and my dreams came true...and I haven’t had to go back to technical writing since,” said Bracegirdle as he reflected on his career path. His wife Susan Mitchell confessed she’s a huge fan, regardless of the fact that she may be partial. “I love the story but the only thing is that now when I say that to people I feel like they look at me and say ‘oh yeah- you’re biased!’, but it is a great story.” The Joy of Spooking is available at all major bookstore chains and outlets or can be purchased online. The NDG author will be signing copies on September 13, 2 p.m. at Paragraph Bookstore, 2220 McGill College Avenue, Montreal.