Monday, May 22, 2017

MMGM~Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen & #Giveaway

I've got a wonderful book to share on this Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! #ILoveMG I also have the author here to share a bit about his writing journey & an awesome chance for you to win a signed copy of his book! But first, let's peek at the story he's created.

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
by David Neilsen

GENRE: Middle Grade Creepy / Silly
PUBLISHER: Crown Books for Young Readers 
RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2016.

FAVORITE LINE: "A supremely pleasant good morning to you, urchins," announced the man slowly in a high-pitched, weak, warbling voice. "Are you residents of this fine enclave of humanity?"

DESCRIPTION: "When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids’ hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor’s spell.

Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor’s secret power without being captivated by his trickery."

Isn't this an awesome cover for a middle grade tale?!!!

Welcome to the Alleyway, David! We're excited to have you here. 

Alleywalkers wave & give cheerful 'hellos'. 

Why don't we start with what inspired you to write this story.
The inspiration to write Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom came from a single image. The late children's illustrator Trina Schart Hyman drew a black-and-white illustration for charity depicting an old man in a top hat leering down at little girl while on his back, he carries a basket filled with hands, feet, and heads of little children. It is labeled "Dr. Fell." I'd seen this picture on my mother-in-law's wall for years before finally being driven to know more. I discovered the genesis of her image came from a four-line poem written in the 1600's. "I do not like thee Dr. Fell - The reason why I cannot tell - But this I know and know full well - I do not like thee Dr. Fell." 

Oh wow, that's quite inspiring. I love it when visual images stir so much creativity. 

Give us a sneak peek into one of your favorite characters.
The main antagonist is, of course, Dr. Fell. When I began writing him, what jumped out at me was his use of language. It is unlike anything I've ever written, and I quickly grew to admire the way he uses vocabulary to feel superior to others. He is manipulative and cruel on the inside while remaining sunny and pleasant on the outside.

What is your favorite part of this story?
My favorite part of the story is near the end, and I don't want to give anything away. However, what makes it special for me is that I always knew my editor and publisher would question me over this section and probably ask me to remove it. I took pains to explain my reasoning behind what I'd written and they eventually agreed to keep this particular section in the book.

That's admirable. I think it shows readers how hard you've worked on this story and how important this ending is to you. <3 

If you don't mind, tell your readers something quirky or unexpected about yourself.
In addition to writing, I work as a professional storyteller in Sleepy Hollow, NY and spend much of October frightening little children.

Sleepy Hollow ... Love it!

What can your fans expect from you next?
This August, my second book, Beyond the Doors, is being published. This is not a sequel to Dr. Fell, but a new, mysterious story about four children who wind up in the care of a family member they never knew existed. She's odd, but her house is even more odd, as it is large, round, and has no doors anywhere. When they eventually discover what has happened to all the doors, they enter a whole new world of adventure.

I really appreciate you stopping by for a visit, David. It's been wonderful! All the best to you with Dr. Fell and all your future projects. Feel free to drop by anytime...

Alleywalkers ... don't forget to enter David's giveaway. It'd be great if you'd share, too. TY!

David Neilsen is a classically trained actor/storyteller, a journalist, and a theater/improvisation teacher for children and adults. During the Halloween season, David can be found telling spooky tales to audiences of all ages throughout New York’s Hudson Valley, or performing one of his one-man shows based on the stories of horror author H.P. Lovecraft. David lives in Tarrytown, NY with his family. Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is his first novel. His second, Beyond the Doors, will be published in August, 2017. Visit him at


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Want to be part of MMGM ~ Shannon Messenger's genius plan to give middle grade reads their just due? Click HERE to join in and for the other participants.

What stirs you when you look at this book cover?


  1. Great interview. Congratulations David! I do love the word urchins - and having been a teacher, I used it a lot :) All the best!

  2. I enjoyed this book so much and am looking forward to reading his next one this summer.

  3. This sounds like such a fun story.

  4. It is a fun cover. Good you fought for that section and they kept it.

  5. I love to be inspired by other forms of art! For me, it's usually been music. This looks like just the right amount of dark for kids. I just watched Sleepy Hollow (Johnny Depp version) with my kids, and my daughter was asking me about whether Sleepy Hollow was a real place. What fun to work there as a storyteller! I want to give tours at The Stanley some day.

    1. Love that you watched Sleepy Hollow with your kiddos! Such a fun (well, if you're into the whole dark thing) film!

  6. Sounds like a fun MG! I'll tweet it. :)

  7. I love the cover! And the story sounds awesome. ^_^

  8. I have had this one on my TBR list for a while. I really enjoyed this interview. I think it is cool to be a storyteller in Sleepy Hollow. :) I have heard it is a great place to visit.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I added your book to my TBR list- but accidentally typed in the name of your book instead of posting a link to my list. Whoops! (in case you need it)


    1. I couldn't agree more about Sleepy Hollow! What a cool place to be writing. Book II of my middle grade series is actually a cross between Sleeping Beauty and Sleepy Hollow, so this is even cooler for me!

      Thanks for dropping by!

  9. This sounds like a terrific Middle Grade book. Love the cover and title!


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