Title: Violet Gloom and the Curse of Downcast
Word count: 46,000
Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy
A few months after her mother’s death, ten-year-old science-mad Violet Gloom moves with her broken-hearted dad to the dreary town of Downcast. There she resigns herself to a life of boredom and sadness and exactly zero super-cool, bathroom-destroying science experiments. But when Violet stumbles across a ghost, she learns Downcast is cursed.
The curse transformed most of the ghosts of Downcast into shadows, ghosts-gone-bad with no other wish but to destroy the town. Only three good ghosts remain: a kindly soul wistful for sunsets and her long-lost family; a ghost with no name who is almost shadow; and the witch who cast the curse, forever remorseful of the hurt her actions have caused. The good ghosts are the only barriers between Downcast and the curse, and Violet must move them on to the Great Beyond before the shadows escape on the anniversary of the curse.
In order to break the curse, Violet must steal a ghost machine away from magic-obsessed evil inventor, Doctor Fair-Weather (and his brain-munching pet zombie). If she succeeds, she will save Downcast and cure her family’s sadness. If she fails, she’ll lose her new home and the only family she has left to an ancient curse.
First 250 words:
‘You know, Vi, some people say that Downcast is cursed,’ said Dad as we zoomed past a rickety old sign by the roadside that read: DOWNCAST: A HOME FOR THE MELANCHOLY. On the very top of the hill in front of us, I could see the inky silhouette of a town against an orange-red sunrise.
Past Violet (before it happened) would have jumped up and down in her seat and asked hundreds of questions and, before you knew it, devised a really cool experiment to determine once and for all whether curses actually exist. It would probably involve: a) voodoo dolls; b) explosions (because every experiment needs explosions); and c) a reconstruction of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. It would be very, VERY cool and I would have definitely won the Young Scientist of the Year Award for my extraordinary and outstanding commitment to Science. If I closed my eyes, I could picture the massive trophy they’d give me, and hear the clapping and cheering as I stepped up to the stage to receive my prize.
Then I remembered: I wasn't Past Violet anymore. So instead I just shrugged and said ‘hmmph’ and pushed all of the bitterness right back down inside of me. Sometimes I felt like a bag of fireworks all waiting to burn up in the night sky.