Today tough, pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modern-day Hamelin with their father . . . until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land.
No one knows why the Piper stole them, but Max and Carter’s appearance may be the key to returning the lost children of Hamelin—and to going home themselves. But to discover the secrets of the Piper, Max and Carter will have to set out on a mysterious quest down the dangerous Peddler’s Road.
Today we welcome Matthew for a guest post!
When I read the blurb for your book, I get a Peter Pan feeling. Was this intentional? If not, what was your inspiration for the story?
Yes! It was absolutely intentional. I don’t think you could write a story about children who never grow up (minor spoiler) and not think about Peter Pan. In fact, The Peddler’s Road opens with a terrific quote from the original J. M. Barrie story that goes like this:
“In the old days at home the Neverland had always begun to look a little dark and threatening by bedtime. Then unexplored patches arose in it and spread; black shadows moved about in them; the roar of beasts of prey was quite different now, and above all, you lost the certainty that you could win.”
I love that quote, but it hints at a darkness that Barrie’s story never really explores. Childhood is a time of imagination and play, but also deep, deep fears. In The Peddler’s Road, one character says to another, “Monsters and witches are a part of childhood! Here on the Summer Isle, they’ve just stopped hiding under the bed.” Not to be too grim (pun certainly intended), but that’s the fairy-tale aspect of childhood that I wanted to investigate—the fears of childhood, and how we overcome them.
This idea has long fascinated me, but it wasn’t until I did some reading about the legend of the Pied Piper that I found the story engine that I could use to explore it. The Pied Piper of Hamelin has always been one of my favorite fairy tales, but a few years ago I came across some research into the origins of the story and discovered that in the modern town of Hamelin, Germany, there exists a piece of the old town gate, dating back to 1556. Written on the gate is the following:
“This wall was built in 1556, 272 years after the magician stole 130 children away.”
Whoa! That’s not part of the fairy tale, that’s a part of Hamelin’s history. The minute I read that I felt a chill creep up the back of my neck and I started to read everything I could find on the origins of the legend. Theories vary, but in truth, what happened to the children of Hamelin is probably not that sensational. Most likely they simply immigrated to another village. But when the truth fails to impress, that’s what fiction is for!
Here is a fairy tale that is, at least partly, based upon an actual event, and I saw in that an irresistible hook—a modern-day mystery with just enough truth to be compelling, that could also be our portal to the land of childhood fears, mixed with a healthy dose of wonder and whimsy. A slightly darker Neverland, if you will, filled with adventure, humor, and plenty of monsters.
So where did the Piper take those 130 children? And why? Well, the answers are easy to find. All you have to do is take a trip along The Peddler’s Road to find out!
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Matthew. Great having you with us!
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