The Goodwin Chronicles is the story of five siblings who are forced to move from London to a country home in the West Midlands because their father, a wildly successful author, is having problems with overeager fans.
The children are not happy with the move, and are quite displeased with their father, but their world gets turned upside down when twin brothers James and Addison disappear from their beds in the middle of the night. The eldest child, Elizabeth, is alerted to their disappearance by an owl who seems to understand English. She gathers her two remaining brothers, Isaac and Daniel, and the trio head out into the walled garden to look for the twins, determined to find them before any of them gets in trouble with their parents.
What they find in the garden is a portal to a fantasy world called Traumwelt that bears an uncanny similarity to their father’s novel. Elizabeth, Isaac, and Daniel set off on a quest to find the twins while James and Addison have their own adventure following a pair of goblins to a dark castle, seeking a way home. Along the way, the children all learn that they have some amazing abilities, and before the end of their tale they realize that their father is more than he seems.
Targeted Age Group:: 8-14
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My family inspired this book. We took a trip to England to visit my wife's family (who live in Caynton House) and the book just kind of fell out of me.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are loosely based on my family.
It was all very disappointing.
The drive. The countryside. The move. Disappointment was what the five children felt as they drove to their new home.
“’Caynton House is located in Newport Village in the county of Shropshire,’” droned their mum, reading from a book on historical architecture as they drove. “’Built in the 18th century from brick, it has a slate roof and parapet gable ends.’” The children had no idea what parapet gable ends were, but they sounded boring.
Isaac rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at his older sister, Elizabeth. His sister snapped back. The twins, Addison and James, poked at each other in the back seat while Daniel, Isaac’s younger brother, sat quietly with his nose in a book.
“’The main house is three storeys plus a cellar, with an attached walled garden behind the house.’ Oh children, did you hear that? A walled garden. What fun!”
“That sounds brilliant, Mum!” exclaimed Isaac in his most sarcastic voice. “You wouldn’t want the plants to escape, eh Daniel?” He elbowed Daniel in the ribs.
“Ow!” Daniel yelped, glaring at Isaac over the top of his book.
Their mum plodded on, either oblivious to the kids mocking her or, more likely, trying to make lemonade from lemons. Their dad, “The” Edward Goodwin, was the author of The Legend of Traumwelt, a wildly successful fantasy novel that had taken Great Britain and the world by storm. He had become a household name overnight – and the children were learning the hard way that fame was not all it was cracked up to be. Autograph seekers, raging fans, and people just wanting to catch a glimpse of the author in his native habitat had been too much. Elizabeth’s Facebook page had been so flooded with friend requests that she’d had to shut it down, and once their schoolmates found out who their dad was they wouldn’t leave the children alone. Even their teachers couldn’t resist asking for autographs (or more).
It was after the third break-in by a fan, really harmless but scary none-the-less, that the Goodwins had made the decision to move to the country. They had bought Caynton House because of its historic nature – Mum and Dad had always been into historic buildings – and because it came furnished and with two attached servants. They hadn’t asked for the children’s opinions, and despite the promise of fresh air and extra space, they all dreaded leaving behind the familiar hustle and bustle of London.
“How much longer till we get there?” asked James from the back seat. “I have to wee and Addy is annoying me with one of his stupid songs.” Addison started singing louder at the complaint, some kind of shanty about a kid who was riding in a car. His songs were usually about whatever was going on at the moment. Or about turtles.
“Not too much longer, sweetie,” Mum said. “How about a snack?”
“Do you have any crisps?” interrupted Isaac. He was never one to miss a meal and crisps were definitely his favorite.
“How about an apple?” Mum countered.
“I want an apple,” said Addison, breaking off from his song.
“I want some biscuits,” James complained.
“If we’re having biscuits, then we probably need tea,” added Isaac, knowing full well he wasn’t helping the situation.
“Tea sounds lovely,” Elizabeth chimed in.
“I’d like to stretch my legs,” added Daniel, looking up from his book and yawning.
“I could use a cuppa,” said Dad. That was sort of Dad’s catch phrase. Not the words, themselves – more the tone of voice that went with it. He used it in all sort of situations, so you had to listen to the tone he used when he said it. If he said it with excitement, it meant he was happy. If he said it with exhaustion, it meant something was weighing heavily on him. And sometimes he said it with sternness, while looking you right in the eye. That meant you were going to get a serious talking to. In this case, Dad was happy, so he really perked up at the idea of a tea break.
And before they knew it, Dad had pulled off the road into a travel stop and the children were running amok grabbing packets of crisps and biscuits and other snacks and piling them into their mum’s arms. For a minute, as they sat at a table enjoying their repast, the children felt like everything was normal again. Isaac and the twins were seeing who could put more Tunnock’s Teacakes in their mouths while saying “fluffy bunny” (spraying crumbs and chocolate all over the place in the process) while Elizabeth chided them for their immaturity. Daniel ignored everyone and read his book, and Mum and Dad looked on at their children in wonder of the chaos while they talked quietly of grown up things.
When they were done with their tea and snacks, the children went and washed up. Dad took the opportunity to pull Elizabeth to the side, to talk to her.
“Listen, Lizzie,” Dad started. He rarely called Elizabeth by her nickname – it usually meant he was trying to connect with her. Elizabeth resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I know this move is hard on you and your brothers,” he said, looking at her apologetically. “But I need you to be the leader, to set an example for them and show them that this can be a good thing.”
Elizabeth stared at her dad. She couldn’t believe he was putting this on her. On her! It was his stupid fault that this was happening because he wrote that sodding book. Now he was asking her to smooth it all over with her brothers? She crossed her arms and didn’t say anything. She just looked at her dad.
Dad slumped, seeing that Elizabeth wasn’t budging. “Just think about it, okay sweetheart?” He gave her a quick hug, and then let her be.
After the break, the family headed back to the car. The sense of oppressive disappointment set in once more, almost immediately. There lingered, for the remainder of the car ride, a palpable and deeply abiding sense of resentment towards their dad. Why had he written that stupid book? He had literally ruined all of their lives, and he didn’t seem to care – he almost seemed excited to be headed into the country to work on his next life-ruining book, the sequel to The Legend of Traumwelt where we find out if the hero of the story, a peasant-turned knight named Edwin, would save the fairy kingdom once again by marrying the beautiful fairy princess. All very formulaic and dull.
The rest of the drive was made in silence. Elizabeth pulled out her iPod and zoned out to her favorite David Bowie collection – a recent discovery she had made that had literally changed her life. Isaac went into a carb coma, passing out to the point that he kept falling over onto Elizabeth. She shoved him over onto Daniel, who was reading, and the pair played a tennis match until they managed to position Isaac in a stable position between them, though one sharp turn threatened to upset the equilibrium. The twins had found a video game and were playing head-to-head in the back seat – not quietly, but at least they were mostly getting along.
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