Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Authors of Yesteryear, Part II of VI

In the seventies and eighties, John Bellairs wrote fifteen books with a mix of supernatural, science-fiction, religious, and treasure-hunting elements. He effectively did the Harry Potter schtick years before it became mass-marketed. Bellair's books were divided into three series by main characters, his protagonists being Lewis Barnavelt, Anthony Monday, and Johnny Dixon. Although his emotions were poorly written, they were good enough for young readers, and the sharp dialogue and genuine suspense more than made up for it.

Bellair's first book, The House with a Clock in its Walls was a receipient of the Newberry Award, and the chapter about being pursued by the twin white discs which were the eyes of a dead witch was the first truly scary writing I'd read as a kid. All of his books were fairly formulaic, but had a very deep attention for details, both on the Catholic faith and the supernatural. Despite his knack for ghouls though, I think my favourite book was Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, a tale of a treasure hunt in the public library building with no hint of the supernatural. On the third point of the writing triangle was Trolley to Yesterday, which was really something of a historical fiction set in the seige of Constantinople (and just happened to include time travel and Egyptian gods!)

Sadly, John Bellairs passed away in 1991, but several more of his sketches were turned into complete stories by Brad Strickland in the nineties. For more information on John Bellairs, or to take a trip down memory lane, visit The Compleat Bellairs .

Tomorrow: Lloyd Alexander

I finished updating all the scores and MIDI files from the pep band collection I did a few years back. The book contained a few legally arranged works that have become standard high school pep band charts, and then a smattering of original works in the same styles of popular charts (to get around arranging fees). It wasn't particularly intellectual, but it was fun and challenging to write in so many different styles. Here's an MP3 of the Latin Rock example, Giblets (MP3, 498KB), and the Gospel Rock example, Easygoer (MP3, 964KB). The main restrictions I worked within were that the piece had to be under a minute, and playable by a reduced marching band set. The titles are all nonsense, fairly evenly spread across the entire alphabet to facilitate memorization and quick indexing. More MIDI files from this collection can be found on the Music page.

Girl attacks flasher with his own zipper
Cat attack now described as 'hate crime'

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