Today I’m so pleased to be hosting an official tour stop for the first book in Jonathan Stroud’s new, fantastic series, Lockwood & Co.! I was thrilled to be invited to be part of the tour by UK publishers Random Houce Children’s Publishers as I thought it was absolutely brilliant and have been a big fan of Jonathan’s work since his Bartimaeus quartet. Jonathan has written a delightful guest post on what our intrepid ghost hunters Lockwood, Lucy and George wear when going about their business and I’ve picked what I think is a fun Lucy-inspired outfit. Be sure to visit all the tour stops for more fun information about The Screaming Staircase!
Guest Post from Jonathan Stroud
Fashion Accessories for Ghost Hunters
Traditional spooky stories, at least literary ones, tend to weigh the scales quite heavily in favour of the scary ghosts. These spectres are powerful and purposeful; they know they’ve got a job to do (usually involving vengeance, punishment or warning) and they knuckle down and get it done with maximum efficiency. The living protagonist of the tale, however, is usually a fairly wet specimen, being hapless, innocent and/or fatally curious, and (crucially) almost always vulnerable and alone. In other words, when something spectral comes calling, they’ve got precious few defences to offer. Usually the upshot is they die straight off, go mad with shock, or are otherwise enfeebled, wasting pathetically away or dying months later, never having spoken again. In other words, it’s an easy win for the ghost.
Not in my book, it’s not.
Don’t get me wrong. I still want my ghouls to be scary. I want them as sinister and horrible as I can make them. Cute dewy-eyed phantoms à la Casper the Friendly Ghost need not apply. But I want it to be a fair fight between them and my child heroes, who (since the frankly rubbish adults can’t sense ghosts at all) are the ones who have to face them. It’s true the kids have strong psychic abilities, and are able to see, hear and otherwise sense supernatural things almost before they happen, but this isn’t itself a great defence. In some respects it actually makes them more vulnerable, since they see stuff (and hear stuff) that preys on their mind. No, they definitely need a bit of authorial assistance, going in.
What does this mean in practise? It means giving them nice clothes.
I intuited this right at the start, before I had a clue what the story was really about. The first scene I wrote sees Anthony Lockwood and Lucy Carlyle, two of our three heroes, arriving at a haunted house. They go to the door, ring the bell, stand there ready to be let in.
Lockwood’s nattily dressed in a suit and tie. He also goes in for a long coat that looks cool but has a tendency to get caught in things at moments of danger. He wears gloves against the spectral cold. (Under his shirt and trousers he’s probably got a set of thermals too, but we won’t go into this right now.) He’s also got ectoplasm-proof boots, made in London by a fashionable British footwear company. His outfit says: English, coolly assertive, upper-middle class. He’s not going to be overawed by any old scrubby phantom.
Lucy’s equally sartorially well-equipped for supernatural encounters. She goes for a neat parka, a warm jersey, a short and funky skirt, a set of (extra-warm) leggings, and another pair of swish boots. Unlike Lockwood, she has a woolly hat to hand; like him, she sports a long shiny rapier at her belt for dealing with spectres. Her look is rather more up-to-date and classless than Lockwood’s, but equally formidable.
The third hero, George Cubbins, is introduced later. He’s different again – generally appearing in a rather scruffy untucked T-shirt, jeans and massive trainers. More of a slacker-look, in other words (and the subject of much derision from Lucy), but it’s still a statement of youthful confidence.
So, like every set of professionals, Lockwood & Co. have a certain uniform. It helps give them power. What ghost wouldn’t be unnerved to face these three?
Now I’ll leave Lockwood and George to their own devices, but I couldn’t help but put together this cute little outfit for Lucy! I wanted her to have a bit of colour underneath her more utilitarian parka, leggings and boots, so I picked some soft coral shades and a skirt with the right amount of ‘funk’. Keeps her warm from all the ghosts, but keeps her stylish to boot.
About The Screaming Staircase
Release: 29 August 2013
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Hauntings are our business . . .
Ghosts crowd the streets and houses of London. Anthony Lockwood, with his slightly grumpy deputy George, and his junior field operative Lucy, make up LOCKWOOD & CO, the small, shabby yet talented ghost-hunting agency.
After a series of calamitous investigations into the supernatural go awry, the team are desperate to prove themselves. Their opportunity comes in the form of a terrifying ghost, the Red Duke. But little do they know what perils lie in store for them at the haunted Bliss Hall . . .
About Jonathan Stroud:
Jonathan Stroud was born in Bedford in 1970. After studying English Literature at York University, he moved to London, where he worked as an editor in a publishing firm. He is the author of the best-selling BARTIMAEUS sequence, which is published in 35 languages and has sold 6 million copies worldwide, and also of four other novels: HEROES OF THE VALLEY, THE LAST SIEGE, THE LEAP and BURIED FIRE. Jonathan lives in Hertfordshire with his family. He has yet to see a ghost, but is keeping his eyes open.