As alluded to in last week’s blog, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing and publishing a book that many people might not know. This blog is an example of work I shouldn’t have done. When I first started peddling my manuscript, I made the mistake of writing a full book proposal. I didn’t realize that book proposals are intended for works of nonfiction, not fiction (especially not novels, like Danger Peak). Novels simply have book samples, which are typically the first two or three chapters of the book. Since I did all the work anyway, I’d like to think it wasn’t a complete waste of time, so I’m presenting my book proposal here. And who knows? It may inspire some people to work on their book proposals for their nonfiction work. At the very least, it’ll give people a template.
What is on top of Danger Peak? That is what 13-year-old Robert Kin and his two best friends, wisecracking and loyal Chris and sweet but put-upon Rinnie, want to find out in their small suburban town of the late 1980s. The three teens are members of the motorbike-racing club the Wild Boars, and with the inadvertent help of their eccentric technology teacher Dr. Howard (who prefers to be called “Doctor,” not “Mister,” thank you very much), they build Robert a better, faster, and stronger dirt bike—piece by piece. Haunted by flashbacks of his older brother Danny, who died trying to scale Danger Peak the year before, Robert becomes obsessed with conquering the magical mountain. For the respect of his friends and school, and with the aid of his improved Action Bike, he discovers what lies beyond the peak of the mountain—and maybe even beyond the bounds of Earth itself. Filled with humor, adventure, and, most importantly, heart, Danger Peak is an inspiring story about what it takes to achieve your dreams—and what it means to feel alive.
Danger Peak: In the late 1980s, a brave thirteen-year-old boy and his two best friends build a super-powered motorbike with the inadvertent help of their eccentric technology teacher to climb and defeat the magical mountain that killed the boy’s older brother the year before.
Danger Peak: A year after his older brother dies attempting to climb the mysterious, magical mountain Danger Peak, a brave thirteen-year-old boy is determined to discover what lies atop this infamous mountain with the aid of his two best friends, the inadvertent help of his eccentric technology teacher, and a super-powered motorbike.
The ideal target age for Danger Peak is between 10 and 14; the story is not meant for little kids, but that particular age range can still fantasize about wielding a customizable, super-powered motorbike before they’re legally allowed to take their driving test. Danger Peak is based on a short story I wrote over 30 years ago when I was 11 years old. Having written the main beats of the story when I was a child myself helped capture the preadolescent tone of the book, and I believe it will help connect with young readers today, as well as hook nostalgia-minded adults who grew up on George Lucas and Steven Spielberg adventures and are longing for the simpler, “totally awesome” time of the ‘80s when the book is set. As evidenced by the slate of movies recently released or scheduled to be released soon (“It” and “It: Chapter Two,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Bill & Ted 3,” and a new “Ghostbusters”), not to mention the continued success of the ‘80s-set ABC hit sitcom “The Goldbergs” and the blockbuster “Stranger Things” franchise on Netflix, the 1980s certainly appear to be back in a big way, and Danger Peak will capitalize on this renewed excitement for the era of “Pac-Man” and big hair.
Inspirations / Competition
I had three main inspirations when writing Danger Peak: the old-school, 8-bit Nintendo videogame “Excitebike,” the many misadventures I had with my friends while riding our bikes around our neighborhood, and the death of my brother. My literary influences include the following five books. Each is comparable either in tone, plot, characters, or a combination thereof, but they are different enough so as not to compete with my book.
- The Magic Moth by Virginia Lee (1973). The Magic Moth is another middle-grade novel that poignantly illustrates how a young death can initially devastate a family but also bring it together, much like countrymen rallying during a war. In Danger Peak, the death of Robert’s older brother exposes the fault lines in his family that were already present, though invisible—in this case, between Robert and his father—but they ultimately work out their differences in the end. Reading The Magic Moth personally hit home for me, as someone who also experienced death in his nuclear family at a young age.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964). Dahl’s classic is based on a wonderfully fascinating premise with a unique hook. In essence, it asks its young readers a delicious, one-sentence question: “What’s inside a magical chocolate factory?” In my book’s case, it attempts to intrigue the reader with this query: “What’s on top of a mysterious mountain?” Hopefully, this hook will encourage readers—young and old alike—to crack open the cover.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1971). Similar to Danger Peak, this story features mischievous underdogs who aren’t necessarily viewed by the other characters as “heroes,” but they end up saving the day in the end anyway. It taught me to reevaluate certain people others would describe as “undesirable”: the poor, lonely, and vulnerable outcasts of society. Those people usually go on to surprise the lot of us.
- Mail-Order Wings by Beatrice Gormley (1981). Gormley’s book about a girl who buys a pair of wings from an ad in a comic book that actually grants her the power of flight has an element of magical realism, as does Danger Peak. In other words, there’s truly only one magical object in the story—the titular wings—just as there’s one sole element of magic in my book: the mountain at the center of the main character’s hometown that he is obsessed with conquering. Reminiscent of Mail-Order Wings, Danger Peak is not a complete fantasy filled with elves and orcs like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but nonetheless, the readers are required to check their rational brains once they delve into the imaginative story.
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011). Although this is a young-adult novel, not a middle-grade novella like Danger Peak and the others on this list, Ready Player One is still overflowing with ‘80s references, which is even more apparent if you’ve seen the motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg. The key difference is that while the characters in Ready Player One are nostalgic for this particular decade, they’re not living in it; they’re living in a dystopian future with only the memory or secondhand stories of that long-ago era, whereas the characters in Danger Peak are actually living during this decade. From the original “Ghostbusters” and “Star Wars” to “Knight Rider” and Martika songs, I drew on the environment of my childhood while writing Danger Peak to make the story as personal as possible.
One way my book is different from these classics is that my characters have more agency in that they’re not simply reacting to things happening to them, as the children who suffer in Willy Wonka’s factory do, for example; they are active participants in the story.
A graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a degree in Journalism, Michael Thomas Perone has written for The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper, Long Island Voice (a spinoff of The Village Voice), and The Island Ear (now titled Long Island Press), among others. Online, he has written for Fatherly, Yahoo!, WhatCulture!, and other websites that don’t end with an exclamation mark. His articles for WhatCulture! covering the world of entertainment alone have been viewed over 374,000 times, and his expertise on critical writing in the music industry has been cited on Wikipedia and featured in national press kits, including for the alternative rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket. For three years in a row, he was a guest speaker on a panel for his alma mater’s Networking in New York series at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, until the series was discontinued. Networking in New York was a conference designed to aid undergrads and recent graduates of Loyola in finding employment in the publishing industry in New York. He currently works as a Senior Editor in Manhattan and lives on Long Island with his wife and two daughters.
Danger Peak will be sold as a commercially friendly paperback, in a trim size of 5.5 in. x 8.5 in., and with a full-color cover and limited to no illustrations inside. The cover will have the book’s title set as an eye-catching logo on top with large, blocky letters and little lightning bolts shooting out the left sides of the “D” in “Danger” and “P” in “Peak,” simulating the words themselves being set in motion. Below the title, there will be a dramatic image of Danger Peak in the background with dark clouds and lightning strikes guarding the mountaintop, while the bottom foreground will showcase a dynamic picture of Robert riding his Action Bike towards the reader while blasting laser bolts from the bike’s mounted mini-laser. At 46,000 words, not including the title page, copyright page, and Contents, the book should run at just under 200 pages. Finally, the book will have 29 chapters, including a Prologue and Epilogue, and each chapter number will have a small lightning bolt behind it, echoing the design of the cover and the overall logo of the book.
Publicity and Marketing
- Besides selling at the usual places like brick-and-mortar Barnes & Nobles stores and online at Amazon.com, Danger Peak could be sold in outside-the-box areas such as moped and bicycle stores, where the target audience congregates.
- I plan on heavily promoting this book to potential customers with like-minded interest in ‘80s pop culture, including targeted ads on 80stees.com and Facebook groups dedicated to the decade of excess.
- I will submit my book for review to the numerous publications I used to write for, including The Baltimore Sun and Long Island Press.
- To tie in with the ‘80s setting of the book, there could be a viral 8-bit videogame launched on the Internet with graphics and music similar to the original, old-school Nintendo. The game would be hosted on the book’s website and feature the following three levels based on three action-packed chapters of the book:
- In the first level, you control Robert on his developing Action Bike as he tries to outrun his school’s security guards following close behind through his hometown. In this level, you can use your bike’s turbo charger but only for a limited amount, so you have to time the short bursts of speed carefully.
- In the second level, you control Robert on his Action Bike as he bypasses the cops chasing him by racing through his town’s forest. In this level, you can use both your turbo charger and built-in laser to knock down the trees in your way, but again, you only have access to these accessories for a limited amount of time, so the player needs to choose wisely.
- In the third and final level, you control Robert on his Action Bike as he finally climbs Danger Peak, the end goal of the game and book. The player now has full access to Action Bike’s add-ons: the turbo charger for short bursts of increased speed, a mounted laser, and larger tires for the rugged terrain. The player needs to dodge lightning strikes and blast approaching, runaway boulders. If the player successfully reaches the mountaintop at the end of the level, the screen will black out with the following white lettering: “Want to know what’s on top of Danger Peak? You’ll have to read the book!”
Danger Peak is an inspiring original story that needs to be read. This satisfying adventure yarn will not only appeal to older children and young teens—the book’s primary demographic and age of the main characters—but also to their parents who grew up in the “Greed-is-good” decade and miss hearing Don Henley on the radio and watching “Miami Vice” on T.V. Similar to the Emmy-winning television series “The Wonder Years,” Danger Peak will attract both younger and older generations; the former will see themselves in the story’s heroes, and the latter will get to relive the carefree, innocent days of their childhood. What’s more, the book isn’t content to simply deliver a rollicking adventure; Danger Peak is a personal story about family tragedy and triumph—something anyone with a beating heart can relate to.
P.S.: Danger Peak is now available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon!
P.P.S.: I ended up not going with the 8-bit videogame idea to market the book on this website. Hey, I’m not made of money!
P.P.P.S.: You can still get my free book Lists, Life, and Other Unimportant Details by following the instructions on top of the Blog/FREE Book page. And speaking of which….
P.P.P.P.S.: Next week’s blog: An Excerpt From Lists, Life, and Other Unimportant Details