Badtime Stories contains 50 bite-sized tales of gothic fantasy, chillingly illustrated throughout by Carl Pugh. The stories feature twins called Jacob and Jacob as they do their best to stay awake or escape their room in a world where shadows have a life of their own and clowns live in the wardrobes. There are peculiar characters such as Nurse Mariam, a gardener called Cloister, a babysitter called Balthazar, an order of nuns known as the Also Sisters, and a father made entirely of ash who lives in an urn. Try as they might, the twins’ efforts are thwarted by some strange new terror and sleep always wins.
Dom Conlon and Carl Pugh have been working together for over 20 years as a creative team producing brand strategy for video games including Resident Evil, Dead Rising, and Devil May Cry. Their fertile imaginations have fed upon the world around them and grown to the point where Badtime Stories began to take on a life of its own. Though short, each story is packed with detail hinting at a wider, stranger world in which anything can happen - however surreal.
The book is for children and adults wanting something deliciously dark but never gruesome or disturbing and always with a wicked sense of humour. It is in the tradition of fairy tales from a time when children could go walking in forests, talk to woodcutters and even have their thumbs cut off. There are pledge levels ranging from the book to individual portraiture and special editions and your support is vital.
During the day, if the twins were taken outside, they wore burlap bags made from the finest hessian over their heads. Whilst this did protect their moth-like skin from the sun it also had the effect of causing them to stink as badly as the little pots of skin they collected for Cleaver, their cook.
‘Bath time is for babies,’ said Jacob.
‘Is it?’ said Nurse Mariam, and gave him and his brother such a shake that they fell out of the towel and into the bath.
‘Too cold, too cold,’ said Jacob.
‘Too hot, too hot,’ said the other Jacob.
The waves sucked at their necks like a goat at a teat, and they thrashed and bawled. First Jacob leapt out of the bath, and then his brother followed - two sharks in a frenzy.
‘Bath time is for babies,’ sang Jacob.
‘Bath time is for babies,’ chimed Jacob.
‘Get back here at once,’ clicked Nurse Mariam.
But the twins were free and they ran around the tub singing and dancing like children might if they lived in an entirely different place.
‘Bath time is for babies. Bath time is for babies.’
Whilst the crowdfunding campaign has been a little quiet of late, it hasn’t been far from my mind. I’ve done two things since we last gathered together here: I have completed the first draft of stories - that’s fifty-one, each around the 500 word mark. I know more about the world of Jacob and Jacob than I did six months ago, and I feel their worries as I lay my head each night upon the collection…
First to whisper that Carl and I are very grateful to Nick Campbell for this fantastic (and highly controversial) interview.
Second to whisper news that the stories are almost complete. When I was approached after writing just a handful, I didn’t think I had fifty stories in me. Time, and the cruel use of torture…
We have reached 19% of our funding target and it's closing in on 20%. I think that’s ok. It’s difficult to judge. All I know is that I’m having to learn a lot of new skills on the hoof here.
One thing I do know, however, is that I love writing these odd little stories. Ever since I was approached with the idea of turning them into a book I’ve been pondering over questions and the more this…
These people are helping to fund Badtime Stories.