Orphans Astrid Chalke and Max Fisher meet when they’re sent to live at Wakefield, a residential and educational facility for teens with psychiatric and behavioral problems. Astrid’s roommate cuts herself with anything sharp she can get her hands on and Max’s roommate threatens him upon introduction.
Just as Astrid and Max develop a strong bond and begin to adjust to the constant chaos surrounding them, a charming and mysterious resident of Wakefield named Teddy claims he has unexplainable abilities. Sometimes he can move things without touching them. Sometimes he can see people’s voices emanating from their mouths. Teddy also thinks that some of the Wakefield staff are on to him.
At first, Astrid and Max think Teddy is paranoid, but Max’s strange, recurring dreams and a series of unsettling events force them to reconsider Teddy’s claims. Are they a product of his supposedly disturbed mind or is the truth stranger than insanity?
Realism in Fantasy
Well-crafted fantasy series have something in common – they feel real. Even if the story takes place in deep space, or magic and bizarre characters pop up at every twist and turn, readers will be able to relate if the world building is thoughtful and rooted in internal logic. With the Mad World series, we strive to keep the story grounded in reality. What better way to draw our readers into the madness?
With the first novel, Wakefield, we worked hard to craft a realistic setting. The main characters meet at a residential treatment facility for teens with psychiatric issues and, through their eyes, readers learn the ins and outs of institutional life. By allowing our characters to navigate and explore an environment entrenched in gritty realism, we provide readers with a way to relate to them and get to know them deeply. We hope that when paranormal elements begin to surface in Wakefield, readers experience them as a logical extension of the setting.
While Wakefield is grounded by the setting, the sequels explore the mythology behind the series, which we’ve steeped in real-world history. As a storyteller, the more realistic questions you ask yourself, the more immersive the world can feel. For instance, if something paranormal were really happening in the world in, say 1852, would U.S. President Millard Fillmore know about it? How would he handle it? By drawing connections to the world around us, we hope to create a richer tapestry for ourMad World characters to live in.
If you have questions or want to chat more about writing, feel free to leave a comment, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a tweet (@madworldseries).
About the authors:
Erin Callahan lives with her husband in the bustling metropolis of Hooksett, New Hampshire, and works for the federal government. She enjoys reading and writing young adult fiction, playing recreational volleyball, and mining the depths of pop culture for new and interesting ideas. A year after graduating from law school, she found herself unemployed and took a job as a case manager at a residential facility similar to the one featured in Wakefield. Though she worked there for just over a year, the strange and amazing kids she met will forever serve as a well of inspiration.
Troy H. Gardner grew up in New Hampshire and graduated with a B.A. in English/Communications with a dual concentration in film and writing from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He spent ten years working in the banking industry dreaming up numerous stories to write. When not writing, which is seldom, Troy busies himself jet-setting from Sunapee, NH to Moultonborough, NH.