Nick Green: What could have been
Mr Dale! Come in, Mr Dale! Sit down, have a Scotch. Dahl. Sorry. Or Roly. May I call you Roly? No problem, Mr Dahl. Sometimes I try to say your first name and I get caught by a yawn, you know what I’m saying? But sit! Cigars to your left.
What can I say? Your debut’s still rocking at the top of the paperback charts! James and the Giant Peach. What a concept! Where do you get your ideas? No, don’t tell me. Leave the lightning in the bottle. But the public, they love it. And I for one couldn’t wait to see what you’d write next.
Before you say anything, Ronald, I do think the new book is great. Just great. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? That’s some title. Nice affiliation there, with the ‘chuh’s. And kids love chocolate, don’t they! Boy, do they love the chocolate. And some of us love charlie, too… but we won’t go there. What was I saying? Oh yeah. The thing is, Rolf, I gotta tell you. James and the Giant Peach, it sold like Del Monte tinned peaches. It just fell off the shelves, like some little boy grabbed the tin from the bottom of the stack, and the whole damn pyramid came down! Yeah? It was peachy! James was the bee’s knees, and I’m talking a giant bee here, like the one in the story.
So now I’m a little, how can I put this, jumpy. About this new book of yours. Because kids are gonna walk into the bookstore, and they’ll be looking for their favorite character, and what do they see? Charlie? Who’s this Charlie? they ask Mommy. And why has he only got a chocolate factory, when good old James had a giant peach? I mean it’s not even a Giant chocolate factory –
Oh, of course, Mr Dale, I know it is giant inside, I have read the manuscript… but it doesn’t specifically specify GIANT on the cover, does it? So the kid walks away none the wiser. Without buying the book. Which would be a real shame.
So I’ve an idea for you, Raoul. And I know you’re gonna love it.
The peach, it worked. We can say with confidence that the peach worked. The giant aspect of it especially. And James, he’s a banker. So how does this grab you…
‘James and the Colossal Apple’.
Okay, you take a moment, you think about it, I know it’s a lot to digest at once. Hey, it would be, right? A colossal apple! A lot to digest! That’d keep a few doctors away, hey? Just consider it, Roland, for a minute. As a core proposition. Hey? Hey? Ah, forget it. The point is, and I think you’re with me here, is fruit. Giant fruit. We know it sells. Giant fruit sells. James plus giant fruit sells. Big time. And you don’t need me to tell you that the sequel potential here is almost limitless.
‘James and the Enormous
’. ‘James and the
Huge Grape’. ‘James and the Biggest Fig’. Or how about ‘James and the Massive
Pear’ – I’m already thinking Adult
Crossover with this one. We can get melons in there too. Do you see where this
could go? Orange
Mr Dale, Mr Dale… Sorry, Darl, Dal… How do you say it again? Daaal? What is that, like in Indian food? Any relation to Tarka Dahl? Woah! Didn’t you write Tarka the Otter, too? Why didn’t you say so? We could wring a whole franchise out of that! Wilbur the Weasel, Fiona the Ferret, Beatrice the Beaver – the world is our oyster. Olly the Oyster!
Hey, Raoul! Darling! Where – ? Oh. Goodbye, I guess.
Was it something I said?
Publisher image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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