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  • Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375840760
  • Our Price: $6.99
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  • Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375849886
  • Our Price: $6.99
  • Quantity:
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Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go

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Written by Dale E. BasyeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Dale E. Basye
Illustrated by Bob DobAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Bob Dob

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: July 22, 2008
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-375-84988-6
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go Cover

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humor (17) fantasy (16) afterlife (15) death (12) siblings (9) adventure (8) children's (7) children (6) hell (5) juvenile (4) young adult (4) funny (4)
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

When Milton and Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow-bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is—or was—a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. She doesn’t make mistakes. She personally sees to it that Heck—whether it be home ec class with Lizzie Borden, ethics with Richard Nixon, or gym with Blackbeard the pirate—is especially, well, heckish for the Fausters. Will Milton and Marlo find a way to escape? Or are they stuck here for all eternity, or until they turn eighteen, whichever comes first?

★ “The author’ umpteen clever allusions . . . make this book truly sparkle.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred

Excerpt

In Generica, Kansas, Christmas wasn’t something you felt in the chill of the winter air or the warmth of a generous smile. It was announced by the sixteen-foot tower of crystal angels at Grizzly Mall—the Mall of Generica.

And this year was no different—at first. Exhausted shoppers filed by, momentarily entranced by the shimmering, heart-faced, bare-bottomed cupids. That is, until Marlo Fauster smashed them to bits with the oar she’d stolen from Spoiled Sports Sporting Goods.

“Let’s go!” shrieked Marlo, a blue-haired, thirteen-going-on-thirty-year-old girl, to her gangly younger brother, Milton. Shards of shining wings and harps rained down around them.

The two children bounded across the showroom floor, Marlo running with a look of fierce determination and Milton running out of pure fear. Unbeknownst to both of them, they were also running out of time.

Milton had spent most of his young life avoiding trouble: staring at his shoes, shuffling along unnoticed, ducking away from tense—or even remotely interesting— situations for fear of their potentially dangerous potential. He only felt truly safe when tucked between the covers of a book, experiencing life secondhand.

Marlo, however, was a different story.

Too far was where Marlo lived. If something didn’t involve petty (and not-so-petty) crime, it just wasn’t worth doing.

Maybe it was all just a cry for attention. Unfortunately, Marlo’s latest acts of thievery and vandalism were drawing far too much attention. At least that’s how Milton saw it through his thick, Coke-bottle glasses as his sister dragged him toward his untimely demise.

They ran past stunned shoppers into the mall concourse, Marlo waving her oar as if rowing furiously through a human sea. Milton fought to keep up.

“That should buy us some time from security!” Marlo squealed with manic glee. It was at times like this, Milton thought, that he was in the presence of—and grudgingly related to—a new kind of evil.

“And you should have bought that stupid oar!” Milton replied, panting.

“Why would I buy an oar?” she asked, giving Milton’s arm a sadistic twist. “We live in Kansas, short bus.”

The two siblings darted around a corner and burst into the Grizzly Mall food court.

“Then why . . . ?” Milton stammered in front of Tongue Thaied.

“For the sport of it,” Marlo said with pride. “If I pull this off—the most conspicuous holiday heist in Grizzly Mall history—I’ll be a modern-day Kleptopatra.” She paused dramatically, her dark eyes twinkling with reflected Christmas lights. “The stuff of shoplifting legend. And all that expensive makeup is just icing on the cake.”

Milton stared at the pink Goodbye Puppy bag underneath his arm as he trotted onward.

“So all this makeup . . . you didn’t need me to just hold it for you back at the cosmetics counter . . . I . . . I just stole . . . lip gloss?”

“And Suburban Blight cheek bronzer with free-radical scavengers and lipid-rich amino moisturizers,” Marlo said while descending an ascending escalator. She grinned. “Welcome to the life, my gullible little apprentice. You are but putty in my skillful hands.”

Behind them, a full-bodied mall security guard lumbered in hot pursuit. Another chunky-style defender of mall law soon joined him, slurping down a smoothie.

Milton looked behind him. Despite their weight being nearly double their IQ, the guards were closing in.

“I can’t believe you tricked me into stealing for you!” Milton barked in his squeaky, just-turned-eleven voice.

Marlo snickered. The fact that she could run clad in several layers of black thrift-store dresses, holding an eight-foot oar, and still manage to maintain a superior attitude was impressive.

“You might get all the A’s in the family, but I certainly aced you,” she snorted, her black lips catching on a fang.

Milton and Marlo rushed into the mall’s massive atrium, joining a crowd gathered around a white, globby sculpture. A fierce marshmallow bear, frozen in mid-attack, loomed over the horde of gawking Genericans. Below the twenty-foot-tall sugary bruin was a banner declaring “Welcome to Grizzly Mall: Home of the State’s Second-Largest Bear-Themed Marshmallow Statue!”

Marlo’s oar sliced through the mass of shoppers like a thin, wooden shark fin.

“Try to blend,” she whispered to her trembling brother.

Milton squished the pink bag of lipstick, fruit-scented creams, and vials of pricey gosh-knows-whats under his armpit. Despite the heat radiating from the mob, Milton shivered. Something—or someone—was near, something so cold that it robbed the heat from his very bones. He squinted through his thick glasses and noticed a dark smudge. He wiped his lenses, but the stubborn smudge was still there, hovering on the edge of the crowd that filled the atrium. The dark smudge was a boy.

A hulking boy. A cruel boy. A boy all too familiar to Milton. A boy who, in many ways, resembled a smudge. A boy whose eyes were dull, dark, wicked slits. A boy whose skin was like puffy, freckled dough that gave off a sickly sweet smell like rotting fruit. A boy named Damian.

Damian sneered at Milton and ran his grubby finger across his throat as he lurched from the mall commons into the heart of the mall. Milton gulped and shut his eyes. On the insides of his eyelids, however, he replayed scenes of Damian’s notorious cruelty, all of which—unfortunately—starred Milton.


From the Hardcover edition.
Dale E. Basye

About Dale E. Basye

Dale E. Basye - Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go
The idea for Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go came to me where most of my ideas come from: that area just behind the eyes and somewhere, approximately, between the ears. A friend of mine, whom I’ll refer to as “Paul Harrod,” wanted to make a short “mockumentary” film on the devil, sort of a VH1 “Behind the Brimstone”-type of thing (sorry for all the quotes and the parenthetical asides). While helping him to mine the topic for potential nuggets of humor, I unearthed the idea of an H-E-double-hockey-sticks Lite, just for children, which–of course–simply had to be called Heck. I researched such classic works as Dante’s Inferno and the phonebook (I wanted a pizza) and came up with a kid-ified underworld specifically designed to ignore the needs and enflame the misery of once-living children everywhere–in particular, the bad ones.

Of course, every story needs what is commonly referred to as a protagonist. That is, a hero, or–at the very least–someone whom the reader can relate to in some way while serving as a guide through a host of unpleasant, fantastical circumstances. Often, the protagonist mirrors the author, not for any significant reason other than it’s much easier for the author (fewer things to make up) while giving him/her the perfect excuse to write about himself/herself. Ever the overachiever, I decided to have two protagonists–hardly a “novel” idea–but it allowed me to write through my dual selves–the ever cautious, perpetually in-his-head Milton, and the tart, impulse-control-challenged Marlo.

Now it was just a matter of writing it all down. Oh, yes…writing

Writing is really, really, really hard. It’s easier if you have fingers and not, say, great unwieldy crab claws, but still. There are only two enjoyable aspects of the writing experience, as I see it. The first is when you are on the bus, clipping your toenails, or grooming the pet monkey you “found” at the circus: those little in-between moments where inspiration often bubbles to the top of your consciousness like a cork bobbing up to the surface of the sea. It’s when you come up with that big idea…the one that seems so inevitable, as if it had always been there, only you were the one to stumble on to it. You’re elated. You’re filled with excitement. You miss your stop, cut your pinky toenail too deep, or accidentally tug too hard on your monkey’s fur with its brush (which Dr. Zaius hates…I have the bite marks to prove it). It’s a great moment (not the monkey bites, but the “zapped with creative fire” part). Unfortunately, when a writer is blessed with a good idea, he/she is then immediately cursed with having to actually do something about it. This is called work. Some writers also consider this play, but–to the best of my knowledge–Roget’s Thesaurus doesn’t happen to include “play” as a synonym for “work.”

The second great part of writing is right after you are through and are fairly convinced that what you wrote isn't completely awful. Not that you ever really think that (or that you are ever really “through”) but there’s a point where most of the heavy lifting is done and the voices in your head at least dull to a manageable murmur. This is also the point where it is safe for your family to come out from underneath the kitchen table, bearing soap, a towel, and a change of clothes.

So why write? There are some who write solely to pay the utility bill, to which I say: good luck. Then, there are others, who simply have to write. This is the column I find myself squarely in. I’ve tried to express myself eloquently with guitar solos, touchdowns, and even ballroom dancing once, and the only thing I managed to achieve was a state of humiliation (and occasionally sore feet). Writing is the closest I’ve come to putting something out in the world that bears a faint resemblance to the notion that was originally in my head (this essay notwithstanding).

And, somehow, it’s all worth it. The staring at the screen until it stares back. The slow dwindling of friends, hairs, and social niceties. The less-than-healthful food choices. The getting up in the middle of the night and splashing in your neighbor's koi pond (this may not have anything to do with writing but may instead be a symptom of a deeper problem). But when you go to a bookstore and see your book, or even simply the space where your book will soon be, you feel as if you have joined an illustrious fraternity of literature, a centuries-old club boasting everyone from Aesop to Zola (a French writer whom one should only read if one finds oneself unbearably happy and wishes to remedy this condition immediately).

Speaking of tedium, I couldn’t stand school. And the feeling was mutual.

But, thanks to some phenomenal teachers, I realized the freeing power of the imagination. It was as if every story I wrote or doodle I scrawled was a spadeful of dirt, unearthing a secret tunnel, getting me closer and closer to escape. Laughter was also a lifesaver for me, often literally. Not only is it rightfully considered the best medicine (if used liberally, only as directed), it can also save you from getting your butt kicked in PE.

The point is (yes, there's a point here somewhere), that preadolescence can feel like an eternity when you’re in it, but you actually get through it fairly unscathed, though your body and voice may soon be rendered unrecognizable. This complete freakishness is normal. So let laughter and perseverance be your best and most trusted bodyguards, providing loyal service without even demanding your lunch money in return.

I hope that you enjoy, appreciate, and–above all–buy my book Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go–at least three copies (one for locking away in your safe for future generations, one for reading, and one for travel). I think you’ll find that it’s a story full of laughter and hope (OK, and a fair amount of demons, poop, and dead historical figures). And if you don’t buy it for the story, then buy it for the amazing illustrations by Bob Dob. So, thank you for reading this long-winded essay (assuming you still are) and I caution you to be wary of words such as flummox, maelstrom, and irony. If you find yourself using them, you may already be a–egads–writer.

Cordially,
Dale E. Basye
Praise

Praise

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2008:
"The author's umpteen clever allusions...make this book truly sparkle."

Review, The Wall Street Journal, July 26-27, 2008:
"Parents and readers . . . are in for a treat with Dale E. Basye's very funny debut novel."


From the Hardcover edition.

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