For most families with young children, getting rid of the television for good would be a terrifying thought. But for one family from Rathangan, it has opened up a world of adventures.
Nine-year-old William MacDonald Hughes and his six-year-old sister Susannah have, with the help of their dad Willie, written a scary storybook which will be serialised on their own website, starting this Friday.
“Adventures at Creepbrook Manor” is the story about the battle between evil and good involving a young family at a spooky mansion. The setting was partly inspired by the family’s days out at Emo Court in Laois.
The story follows brave Thomas in his struggle against the Cruel King. The tale’s characters, including adventurous Aadi, the honourable Doonbeam and the military Uncle Reggie, have also been illustrated by the children.
Mum Susan has created the website www.creepbrookmanor.com, where the 14-chapter book will be released “when the clock strikes six in the evening” on four successive Fridays, starting May 18. The story was written over a two year stint, with dad Willie, himself a music producer and composer who has previously written a book on spirituality, in charge of the editing.
But the idea to write a story in the first place came from his son William.
“I came down for supper one time and said ‘Dad, can we write a book?” the young bookworm and inventor, who likes playing rugby and chess, told the Leinster Leader.
The family turned off the television for good three years ago. The experiment was initially meant to last for a year, but the family did not miss the box and eventually gave the set away to the St Vincent De Paul.
“I’m not against television. We watch DVDs on the weekend. It’s just that it was so dominant and there was no time for other things,” said Willie.
The family watch DVDs on the computer of their favourite shows and films, including comedies such as Laurel and Hardy and Father Ted. “If you like a good programme, you can watch it again and again,” said William.
Dad Willie said he misses watching certain documentaries from time to time, but looks forward to watching DVDs at the weekend.
However, the Killashee Multi-Denominational school pupil admitted that his friends “thought I was a bit of a nutcase” when he said he does not watch television. His dad recalled one incident after a rugby match whenthe other children found out that William does not watch television. “Both teams crowded around him, they thought it was so strange,” said Willie.
Both William and Susannah love reading. They’ve never read Harry Potter, but William, a Dahl and Dickens fan, says he looks forward to starting the books now his own story is finished.
The children also go to the Coder Dojo at NUI Maynooth which teaches youngsters how to do computer programming. Susannah loves running and is keen to join the athletics club in Newbridge when she is old enough.
‘Adventures at Creepbrook Manor’ took two years to finish, with the bulk of the writing being done in school holidays. They originally planned on writing one chapter per vacation, but upped the workload in order to get the story finished in a reasonable timeframe.
“I also felt they might be getting too old for it,” said Willie.
They decided that they would like their friends and neighbours to be able to read and enjoy the tale, and so have decided to publish it online.
The website and the accompanying sketches of the characters have been completed in recent months, as Willie has finished editing the story in readiness for its publication.
The trio describe the actual writing process as a “team effort”, which involved lots of talking and discussing the story and what would happen to the characters.
The dad feels that writing and publishing the story has an educational value.
“I feel strongly that school is there to give the social side of life as well as the educational side. But outside the classroom, life is educational and this experience is hugely educational for them,” he said. “I see it all as part of the bigger picture.
You can log on and read about the Adventures at Creepbrook Manor at www.creepbrookmanor.com.