When Will finds himself in hospital, but unable to make anyone see or hear him, he realises that he never made it home from his first kiss with the school hottie. Knocked off his bike in a road traffic accident, Will is now officially dead - and a ghost. But somehow his best mate, Dougie, can still see him, and, what is more, increasingly Will seems bound to Dougie, going only where Dougie goes.
Once they've exhausted all the comic possibilities of being invisible, they set about unravelling the mystery of Will's predicament. Is it something to do with that kiss, or the driver of the car that killed him and didn't stop? Maybe they will find an answer by investigating the rumour that there is an unhappy spirit haunting the ruins in the school grounds, and if so, why? What they discover is a long-buried mystery, which stretches its fingers right into the present...
Haunt was published in the UK on June 5th and is a great YA read for anyone who likes their books a bit more on the spooky side. There's plenty of comedic moments, though, so don't go covering your eyes just yet!
As part of the UK blog tour organised by Simon and Schuster, today I have Curtis himself here on my blog to talk about the making of the fantastic Haunt trailer, which you can see here or below.
HAUNT TRAILER STORY
by Curtis Jobling
As an author of books for middle grade through high school audiences, I get to visit a lot of schools, not just around the UK but overseas also. However, it's those visits to the schools in and around my hometown of Warrington that provide a unique thrill for me. When I was a kid it would've blown my mind to have an author, or artist, or musician or poet visit my school. However, that never happened. Those few people who came in to speak to us were invariably from quite different, equally worthy, industries - the army, police or fire services looking to recruit, or indeed a chap from ICI coming to fit you for a hard hat. There was never anyone from the 'creative industries' who came in to school to talk (I don't think they officially existed in the 80's) so to be able to do that now and hopefully inspire creative souls in the audience is a real kick. To be able to say to kids from where I grew up that I grew up on those exact same streets adds extra value, I'd hope, provides further inspiration.
Penketh High was my old high school, and it features heavily in my new book, HAUNT: Dead Scared. It's name and those of the people one found there have been changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent), so instead we find Brooklands High in its place. But for all intents and purposes, we're looking at the same school. HAUNT is based very loosely on my life growing up in Warrington - I say loosely because I obviously didn't die and come back to haunt my best friend! The things I got up to, the friends I made, the scrapes I dodged, they're all in there. Dougie Hancock is an amalgam of two of my childhood best friends, Andy and Wayne, while other characters like school miscreant and mate Stu Singer is based on another Stuart who shares much of that character's chaotic charm. School sweetheart Lucy Carpenter represents the girls I had a crush on, and the bully, Vinnie Savage, is constructed from the worst elements of the bullies I encountered.
With the book written and the release date approaching, it occurred to me that a trailer would be a lovely thing to raise awareness of this. This is where the connections with Penketh High get really interesting, at least for me. The school is now a specialist media college, so my recent visits there have concentrated on my work in film and television designing and creating various children's animated series (Bob the Builder, Frankenstein's Cat and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion). They've even produced and shot their own feature films recently, the first school in the country to do so, so that synergy is already there. Knowing that former student Jonathon Kay had set up film company Red Rose Media within the school led to me asking him if he'd consider producing the trailer to promote this book, based upon life in Penketh High. It was a no-brainer, like the students from an unnamed rival school ;-) (that's the partisan kicking in - I jest!)
I provided Jonathon and his crew with a brief script and they went out and shot it on a dark, dank evening. They cast student Will Bennett to (appropriately) play the lead role of Will, the voice of the book. I popped back afterwards as Jonathon was editing the finished short, passing on my thoughts on where it could be cut to tighten the pace up, what music would work best etc. It felt like I was back in the animation business again, and what a thrill it was too! The end trailer is, I think, a wonderful little film. It perfectly encapsulates that opening chapter, and how fate can be a fickle mistress.
You can see more of Penketh High and Red Rose Media's films on Youtube - do check out their former head teacher doing Gangnam Style (it went viral) and their recent worthy homage to Pharrell William's Happy video which hopes to help raise money for St Rocco's Hospice.