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Spooky new children’s novel ‘The Doom Town Dummies’ smells like success

Beauty and Fashion

Spooky new children’s novel ‘The Doom Town Dummies’ smells like success

The Doom Town Dummies is a spooky new children’s novel by author and attractions designer Liam Findlay.

The book, for ages 8+, has taken inspiration from various gothic dark rides. The story follows 11 year-old Colette Planchette, whose best friend is a ghost, as she finds herself in an eerie village of shop-window dummies. The sense of mystery deepens as rumours of a monster and missing children might turn out to be true…

Ghost train, Curry’s Fun Park

Early writing inspiration came about in 2018 when Dead Walk Designs asked Liam to assist with a huge ghost train refurbishment in Northern Ireland. The attraction at Barry’s Amusements (now Curry’s Fun Park) was full of creepy mannequins, as well as a sinister doll girl, that Liam would be left alone with in dark rooms while working. Adding to his novel in the evenings, the ghost train experience helped Liam describe the eerie atmosphere of the mannequin village in his book.

Further to this, being surrounded by three-dimensional ghosts and monsters was informative for imagining the ghost boy Lucian in The Doom Town Dummies, as well as the horrific Snouted Snatcher monster. Eagle-eyed riders on the ghost train might spot a portrait of a deep-sea diver by Liam, with seaweed hanging from the frame, and the idea of this design would later be reused for Colette’s nasty, deep-sea diving uncle in the book!

The Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor, Disney Parks

Disney parks’ Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor, which Liam adored as a child, also inspired elements of the novel and are lovingly referenced in subtle ways. The character Lucian is a ghost within a carving of his own face on an umbrella handle. The idea of this carving was inspired by Madame Leota’s morose, knowing, ‘sentient’ face on her gravestone at the Haunted Mansion. In fact, Lucian was originally named ‘Little Lucian’, as a nod to Little Leota, before the ‘Little’ was cut for simplicity’s sake! Lucian also mentions the ‘Regions Beyond’ in the story, and in the earliest draft, his spirit was contained within a crystal ball. This was before Lucian moved into a walkie talkie, then a brooch (inspired by the brooches worn by Cast Members at the Memento Mori shop), then finally an umbrella.

An inspiration from Phantom Manor remains in the final manuscript, and this is the phrase ‘non onmis moriar’, which means ‘I / my legacy will not completely die’. The phrase can be found on the sign at the entrance of Phantom Manor, and it is also on the welcome billboard for the creepy village where The Doom Town Dummies is set.

Dark ride smells, AromaPrime

Liam also works for  AromaPrime, which for 50 years has created atmospheric smells for dark rides around the world. One of AromaPrime’s recent projects was the creation of smells for The Curse at Alton Manor, Alton Towers Resort. These smells are musty and damp, to create a sense of authenticity in the haunted house, but also reminiscent of the Victorian period, which comes through in the smells of coal fire and old-fashioned soap.

AromaPrime was another inspiration for The Doom Town Dummies, in that Colette communicates with Lucian the ghost through a supernatural sense of smell, which she calls the Second Smell. The story also involves a mysterious company that creates smells for theme parks! To help encourage children to think about the smells around them more often, Liam has ‘illustrated’ The Doom Town Dummies through smell. Using AromaPrime’s olfactory factory, he has created smells that appear in the novel, including the floral smell of Lucian the ghost, the fishy stench of the Snouted Snatcher monster, and the delicious fragrance of edible lotus flowers. The intention in providing these smells at school talks and library workshops is that children can sniff as they read the different scenes, to help bring the story to life in a flavourful and personal way.

Immersive event

The themed attraction inspiration comes full circle with DOOM TOWN: A Mannequin Mystery.

This is an immersive mystery Halloween event based on The Doom Town Dummies, taking place on October 20th and 21st, in Lincolnshire. The venue, nicknamed the ‘mannequin graveyard’, is a totally unique site with mountains of over 15,000 creepy mannequins.

The Doom Town Dummies is now available through Amazon (UK), Amazon (USA) and other online booksellers.

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