Copyright ©2011/2012 Simon Daryl Wood. All rights reserved.
IT'S THE ULTIMATE CORPORATE TAKEOVER . . .

A long-held wish, a forbidden magic spell and a kidnapping propel 10-year-old James Bell and his family into an adventure beyond belief. At the moment of the lunar eclipse on the stroke of midnight the World is to be sold. Armed with only the power of his imagination and the contents of his money box, James must challenge the greed of the mighty Bogus Corporation, a sinister bank and the mysterious Gnomes of Zurich in a race against time to stop the sale and prevent the destruction of childhood.
[Fairy Story] "will make you wish you could go back to the magical time of childhood where anything is possible, as it surely is in this book." Masquerade Crew [4-Star] Review.

"An incredible story. Such an interesting world to dive into, with great twists and turns. A mesmerizing read for young and old." Amazon Reader [5-Star] Review.

"Clearly recognizable strands from many familiar stories deftly woven into a new presentation of sin, bravery, adventure, greed and fear. The modern world of Area 51, cell phones, jets and missiles is mixed with Cinderella almost seamlessly. Like all good stories, a basic morality carries the protagonists down their allotted path to an age-old predictable end (which all good stories do). An end for all with another chapter tantalizingly around the corner." Amazon Reader [5 Star] Review.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Standard Banking Procedure



At the centre of the dungeon beneath the bank an elderly man was stretched out on a rack, wrists and ankles tied with heavy rope. A masked goblin, his muscular torso glistening with sweat, heaved on a ratchet, cranking up the infernal contraption notch by notch.
“Did you authorize this brutality?” demanded Mr. Bell.
“Brutality?” The banker tut-tutted, signalling the masked goblin to stop. “This is standard banking procedure—and very cost-effective." He sighed. "Mind you, it has rather taken the sport out of writing all those threatening letters. Many’s the happy hour I’ve spent agonizing over whether to torment some poor fool with public humiliation or a visitation of pustulent boils upon his bratlings.”
“What’s the Baron done?” asked Laura.
“Defaulted on his mortgage,” said the banker. “Isn’t that right, Smallprint?”
“A regrettable business. But the terms of the Baron’s mortgage are crystal clear." The lawyer squinted through a powerful magnifying glass at the document he was holding. “Our bank is quite within its rights to recover all it can.”

Friday, August 1, 2014

Futures [excerpt]



James was nowhere to be seen. Laura led everyone as far as Goblin Fair's main square, where they soon became caught up in a crowd of gnomes and goblins eagerly gathered around Catchpenny’s latest market enterprise—a gypsy fortune-teller with huge earrings and cunning eyes sitting beneath a sign which read ‘Futures’.
“Cross Madam Seersucker’s palm with silver,” Catchpenny was telling the crowd, “and she’ll predict the future value of crops, livestock, children . . . even money itself.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Origins


I didn't know it at the time, but the idea for Fairy Story came to me back in the 1970s. It was sparked by a radio discussion about how much money existed in the world. An economist was arguing that, as most money is notional and purely the figment of accountants' imaginations, the actual amount was relatively small; and in various humorous asides he maintained that world economics was largely an elaborate game of "pass the parcel" and that the only money which probably existed in the World was the $100 being kept in a tin box under the bed of a widow in Vermont.
These surreal ideas found a warm place to incubate in the back of my mind.
Fast forward twenty years.
In the early 1990s my wife and I gave up London city life and bought a cottage in a remote area of Wales. It was a land of hills, hidden valleys and twisting lanes. At night the silence was profound, with a sky so clear you could count every star in the firmament. It was a bewitching place. On nights of the full moon, the hedgerows draped with beads of silver light from the earlier rain and the hilltop lightning trees stark against the fading remnants of evening, it was almost impossible not to believe we were living in Fairyland.
It was whilst out walking with my dogs on one of these magical nights that I unexpectedly recalled the widow in Vermont and the global game of pass the parcel.
I glanced up at the moon.
What if . . ? I wondered.
And so, on returning home I dusted off my old Olivetti Lettera 32 . . .

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Childhood's End [Excerpt]



“Once The Charm of Innocence is ours,” said Fairweather, “children won’t have time for make believe. They’ll be too busy working, buying pensions and insurance, taking out mortgages, trading stocks and shares and, most importantly, buying lots and lots of lovely things.”
Mr. Bell was horrified. “Things? What sort of things?”
“How should I know?” shrieked Fairweather. “Who cares? Anything Catchpenny can sell ‘em.”
“But if the children are working in your sweatshops for next to nothing,” said Mr. Bell, “how will they get the money to buy all the things they’re making?”
“Ah ha!” exclaimed Fairweather. “That’s the genius of our scheme. My bank steps in and lends them the money. Why encourage the little darlings to play with toy money when they could be playing with the real thing at sharp rates of interest? They’ll have to borrow more and more to buy all the new things Catchpenny offers them, while working harder and harder to pay back what they already owe." The banker beamed with pride. "We’ve thought the whole thing through. Believe me, it’s foolproof.”
James listened in disbelief. There was no doubt about it. Fairweather and the Gnomes of Zurich were dangerously barmy.
They had to be stopped.

Photograph by kind permission of Niall McDiarmid. http://www.niallmcdiarmid.com

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Power of Imagination [Excerpt]



Mr. Bell took the Swiss Army knife.
“This is a complete survival kit,” he explained, opening the tools one by one. “There’s a can opener, a pair of scissors, tooth pick, screwdriver, a magnifying glass for kindling fires and . . . oh, yes, even a thingamajig for getting stones out of horses’ hooves.”
William watched in disbelief as Mr. Bell handed back the knife to Laura.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Make believe embarrasses adults.” Mr. Chalmers stifled a yawn. The last few moments had exhausted him. “But luckily, young Charles has no such inhibitions.”
As Laura cut a length of twine, Charles pointed at the knife.
“Wassat?”
“The screwdriver,” said Laura.
Charles shook his head and pointed to another tool on the knife.
“I don’t know.” Laura prised it open. “It looks like . . ." She stared in disbelief. "No . . . it can’t be.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Machine Stops


E.M. Forster wasn't at all enamoured by H.G. Wells' rosy technological vision of the future. In 1909 he set down his misgivings in a prophetic 12,000-word story entitled "The Machine Stops" in which people do not venture outside their living spaces. They live in a virtual world, wholly dependent upon a global mechanism [The Machine] for delivering their day-to-day needs and means of communication. His was a frightening vision of the future in which he predicted many things, including home-shopping, iTunes, instant messaging and Skype. Forster hinted, too, at the perils of globalization—

"Few travelled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul."

Needless to say, the machine destroys itself and people set out to try to recapture their lost lives. The story ends with a kiss, something you cannot do virtually, and the line—

"Oh, tomorrow - some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow."

Because we have no Plan-B for the day when our all-singing, all-dancing 21st Century internet age suddenly goes pear-shaped, E.M. Forster's novella should serve as a warning to us all and be made required reading for every ten-year-old girl and boy.