The Children’s Horrible House by N. Jane Quackenbush Published on November 10th, 2015
Published by Smashwords Edition
Genre: Middlegrade Chapter Book
Holly Spinatsch, a curious and rebellious tomboy, was forewarned by her siblings that if she didn’t make her bed, she would be taken away to The Children’s Horrible House…and indeed she was. On her search for kinship in this seemingly haunted jail like mansion, she discovers a mystery lurking and breathing, crying out for discovery. However, when she and her friends attempt to solve the mystery, they are only left with more questions.
N. Jane Quackenbush is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University. She lives in a horrible house filled with mystery and fun in St. Augustine, Florida, a place she finds a lot of material by which she is inspired. Many places mentioned in her books are based on actual haunted buildings, star-filled planetariums and magical gardens deep within The Nation’s Oldest City. N. Jane Quackenbush has also written the following Children’s Picture Books: The Rocket Ship Bed Trip The Pirate Ship Bed Trip The Afternoon Moon and many more books in the works!
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What gave you the inspiration for The Children’s Horrible House?
The quick answer? My brothers and sisters. When I was little they would threaten to send me to The Children’s Horrible House when I didn’t want to clean my room or make my bed. They even sang a song to go with their intimidation. It went like this:
The Children’s Horrible House
The Children’s Horrible House
Where you work all day and never never play…
The Children’s Horrible House.
They would add new verses and I wasn’t sure if they were making it up or if they were serious. Many people have siblings and most siblings have interesting stories to tell about their childhood. One day another author and I were sitting at an event and she pulled out a sandwich and since she is lactose intolerant, I was happy to eat her cheese. She discarded her wilted lettuce but because I was so hungry, I ate that too. That disgusting old cheese and wilted lettuce became the impetus for the building of this story. That meal was included in my description at The Children’s Horrible House, which strangely enough, is quite magnificent.
As I explored the idea of constructing a whole story around this song, the backdrop and settings came alive within the secret gardens and palatial buildings of our nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, FL. However, I did not set the story here. On a trip to Kalispell, Montana, I toured The Conrad Mansion. The attic at the top of that grand home spoke volumes to me as I walked through the gigantic play space filled with stuffed animal trophies as well as a huge doll house that was built with more detail than anything I have ever seen. A lot of the background story for the book came from this place in Montana but I purposely left the location ambiguous because I wanted readers to think that The Children’s Horrible House could be anywhere...even close to their homes!
It was still dark when we were let out in front of a huge flaming gate. Well, the gate wasn’t actually flaming, but on each side, a gas lantern was lit and with the smudges on my eternally foggy glasses, it made the gate appear ablaze. The shiny black metal not only reflected the flames, but it seemed to make the whole gate glow in unison with the flickering flames. A very tall brick wall covered in thorny bushes grew even higher than the wall, spreading out of sight in both directions. Major Whoopins punched in a code that opened the gates.
We proceeded down a long black driveway lined with spooky cowering trees offering a creepy welcome. Ahead I saw a building. Even though it was still not quite morning, the sun had started to peak over the horizon giving us just the right light to see. It was a three-story maroon colored mansion that looked like it could either be a haunted Victorian house or the fanciest jail ever constructed. I wasn’t sure. It looked like a jail because it had bars on the windows, but it also looked like a fancy house because it had white painted porches on the first two stories. The roof line was very steep and had a couple of chimney stacks. The front right side of the building had a square turret that made it look nice, but frightening. At the top of the turret, I noticed a bar-less window with lace curtains. As I stared, I felt someone staring back. A woman’s form moved from behind the curtain, and then she was gone.
“Who was that?” I asked, mostly to myself, but I guess Major Whoopins heard me because he answered me saying in a thick, gruff voice, “You’d best mind yo’ own bidness and you gonna git along just fine, ya’ hear?”
“Yes, sir!” I said hoping to stay on his good side. He gave me a reluctant smile but I saw it.
“See that door?” he asked. “You go on and git up there and wait fo’ Mr. Ree.”
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