Today we have a guest post from author, Joanna Nadin…
The Real Penny Dreadful by Joanna Nadin
Books can come from anywhere and everywhere. From TV to real life, and from a face on the street to a name. That’s how I found Penny Dreadful. Only back then she was words – a nickname for a trash Victorian comic. But I wrote her down, saved her for a rainy day, when I would wonder who she might be. But years passed, and I had worked in many jobs and in many places – from a swimming pool to 10 Downing Street, and I met many dreadful people on the way, but none of them seemed like Penny.
In fact it was twenty years after I first write down the name that I finally met her. Because by this time I had a little girl called Amelia, and I had moved to a little cottage in a row of houses in the woods. And all the while I was writing books, Amelia was growing up, and getting into a gang with the neighbours’ children. Not a scary gang, but the good, old-fashioned kind. Like Just William’s. The kind that climbs trees, or builds dens, or makes mud baths.
Or at least they MEANT to be good. Only while I was up in my attic writing, these three seemed to get themselves into all sorts of bother.
For example there was the time they thought they’d post flowers to everyone on the street, only the flowers they posted they had dug up from the very same people’s back gardens and hanging baskets, and shoved them, roots and mud and all, through their letterboxes.
Then there was the time they decided to make a potion. They were playing a very complicated game of Harry Potter, which involved one of them being Ron Weasley’s girlfriend, and one of them being Voldemort’s girlfriend. And at some point they had to fight a witch. And they decided the only way to fight a witch was to make a potion. Which even I admit is a GOOD IDEA to fight witches. As well as being brilliant fun. Only somehow it went a little bit wrong. Not least because the main ingredients were a whole tube of toothpaste, a whole bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo, a tub of very expensive face cream, some hair-removing cream, and a bottle of red hair dye from the time when we tried to turn Amelia into Pippi Longstocking for World Book Day.
So by now they had a very gloopy, very sticky, very RED potion to fight the witch. Only apparently the witch didn’t want to SWALLOW the not-so-marvelous medicine. OH NO. So they had to throw it at her. But the witch kept moving around. So they threw some at the curtain. Then they threw some at the wall. Then they threw some on the ceiling.
Then the witch got into bed. And I expect you can guess the rest.
And another thing the menaces were very KEEN on was haircuts.
One day Amelia had lovely very long, very enormous curly hair. And then suddenly there was a big chunk missing at the front.
And when I asked here where it was she said ‘Samson done it’. Which, to be fair, was quite clever because Samson was the naughtiest boy in school, and was always always in trouble so it was very very believable.
So I went into school and told the teacher that she should not be letting Samson play at hairdressers in class because now Amelia looks all mad and it will take months to grow back.
Only about three days later I was cleaning behind the chest of drawers in Millie’s room and I found several things.
a monkey that had gone missing a year ago
a chocolate that had also gone missing only the day before
a large handful of hair. Millie’s hair to be precise. Along with a pair of scissors.
She has also once scratched her name into next door’s car with a stone. And then said ‘bigger boys done it and ran away.’ Only we asked why they had scratched HER name into the car not theirs she did not have an answer. Good tip – always have an answer for everything.
But the thing was she hadn’t meant to be bad. She just thought it would be interesting to see what happened.
And so, after years of wondering about who Penny Dreadful might be. I realized she was right under my nose. Along with her cousin Georgia May Morton Jones. And her best friend Cosmo Moon Webster.
Three little menaces, who are not actually DREADFUL. They are just magnets for disaster.
Thanks, Joanna! Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster is avaialble to buy from today.