Nick Green: What could have been

Doug Mildew
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 Orange’. ‘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?

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 /

          23 days to Christmas!

This Christmas, for four days, Authors Electric will play Father Christmas and give away books!

     Get in quick, and you could get books for free!

     Drop by on the day itself, to find out which books and which authors, and where to find them…


Bill Kirton said…
Nice one, Nick. A familiar cautionary tale - for writers if not for publishers/agents. Thanks for the laugh.
Dennis Hamley said…
Thanks, Nick. A great start to the day.
Lydia Bennet said…
yes, very enjoyable, though all too familiar to many writers I'm sure!
madwippitt said…
I have a special fondness for James and the Giant Peach as I got it for a prize at school ... but yes, cautionary ...

Incidentally, 22 days to Christmas (if you're counting today) 23 days will mean you've overshot and landed up[ on Boxing Day! :-D
Susan Price said…
Depends what day you start counting... This is why I never got on with maths.
Lee said…
Susan, it also depends on when you finish counting. Here in Germany, traditional gift-giving is on Christmas Eve, and you can bet that kids at least count down only till then.
Kathleen Jones said…
Thanks for a good laugh Nick - one of teh funniest things I've read in a while!!!
Good one, Nick. Just think, if 'Mr Dale' had gone the healthy fruit route it might have been cancelled at book 3, and we'd never have got to the chocolate!

Popular posts

A Request - For Human Kindness Sake

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

Do Love my Dulu-Dulu! by Reb MacRath

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee

Rejoice When Fireflies Outshine the Glare of Showboats -- by Reb MacRath