Tag Archives: Blimpo

Where the Heck is Heck?


Heck-o, readers on the other side of the magic screen. Long time no…well, no nothing. And if I’m anything, it’s a no-nothing. I have been getting emails lately…that fact in and of itself is less than earth-shattering. Many of you probably receive emails. But the ones I have been receiving have been questioning where, when and/or if the next Heck book will be published. Short answer? Heck-if-I-know.

Here’s the skinny: About a year and a half or so (I forget, exactly, as the wound has since scabbed over), I was told that Random House would no longer be publishing my Circles of Heck series: even though I had already submitted the eighth installment, Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck. The company had recently merged with Penguin, becoming something of a Random Penguin. And while it was still a House, it was sadly no longer my home. I knew that the merger had streamlined the company, with editors sharing offices and having to cut whatever titles weren’t make the cut, editing-time-to-profit-wise. Meaning, my editor was spending more time than was deemed worth it on my books so I (and many authors) were let loose and reintroduced to the wilds of the non-published.

This sucked. And, since I had two titles to go in my series, no other publishing house (according to my agent) would want to publish and promote another publisher’s series. The only glimmer of hope is that MGM have the option to make the first Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go book into a movie. They have had this right for nearly five years; with the project on its second director and…I don’t know: third or fourth screenwriter.

If the movie happens, this would—ideally—renew interest in the series so that I could properly finish it (or as properly as I can do anything). The option has been extended until the end of the year, so hopefully there will be some movement in this area. There are a lot of talented people involved, so I would love to see this project kicked into production! If the movie doesn’t happen…I don’t know. I could self-publish, but I would want the books to be as high-quality as possible and not look, I don’t know…shabby in comparison to what came before. I’m not even sure if there is a market to make it worth the trouble, as the last book in the series Wise Acres: The Seventh Circle of Heck—while being my favorite of the series—only sold about 2,000 copies.  And, the weird thing is, that book is literally printed on money, so each copy is worth at least $10,000. Be sure to buy a carton today! In any case, I’m open to ideas! As I said before, Sadia is finished and I can’t stand to work on something and not have it see the light of day, or the dark of eternal night.

So that, in a nut-job, is what the haps.

I hope you all are well and swell and not swelling in a well.

“Beast” Wishes,

Dale E. Basye

Wise Acres: The Seventh Circle of Heck is an Amazon Best Book of the Month!


…available December 24th!

<3 Conference


Last month I had the great pleasure of being invited to St. Louis to take part in (Auntie) Heather Brewer’s (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series) Less Than Three (<3) Anti-Bullying Conference. It was one of those experiences so profound that I found it impossible to blog about. In the words of the conference’s eloquent spokesperson: “Less Than Three will not just focus on bullying and why it’s a problem, but will work to offer solutions for the teens who are experiencing this torment. We plan to reach out to all facets of bullied teens: GLBT, multicultural, outcasts, everyone. Because bullying affects everyone.”

I was amongst such authorial luminaries as Susane Colasanti, David Levithan, Andrew Smith, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan, A.S. King (oh…I get it: asking), Rachel Caine, Jennifer Brown, Alethea Kontis, Jody Feldman, Cheryl Rainfield, T.M. Goeglein, Ellen Hopkins,Cole Gibsen, Carrie Jones, Mari Mancusi, Shannon Messenger, Sarah Bromley and Antony John.

The Less Than Three conference brought teens, tweens, booksellers, teachers, administrators, parents, librarians, and authors together to rally against bullying. It featured panels focusing on the various effects of bullying and positive approaches to tackling the issue. But, more than anything, it got a refreshing dialogue going about bullying and how it affects everyone. In fact, I feel I got far more out of the experience (especially from the affecting appearance of teen Jordan Brooks who, in a way, inspired the whole event) than the attendees! 

I appeared on the BULLYING IN SCHOOL: When a safe haven turns into a waking nightmare panel. So, rather than try to wrestle this emotional experience in to words, I’ll simply paraphrase some of the questions posed, and my answers.


I know that everyone on the panel has been bullied, so to start off, I’d like you to talk about that. If you were to write one representative scene in a book that would illustrate your personal experiences with being bullied in school, how would that go?

Well, there is a bully—actually THE bully in my book, Damian Ruffino—who is actually named after a really bully I encountered in middle school. I forget what his first name was, but his last name was definitely Ruffino. He was one of those kids that was twice as big as the other kids, probably had facial hair as a baby…I remember he had the name RUFFINO on the back of the football jersey he’d always wear. He was just one of many. He never really did anything but make fun of me or threaten me. Anyway, in the first chapter of the first Heck book, Milton—the main character—has these horrible memories of his encounters with Damian flash into his mind just before his—SPOILER—death! While these scenes weren’t anything that happened to me, per se, they captured the feeling I would have of basically being “hunted” at school. Avoiding someone as if they carried the bully-bonic plague!

Feel free to include any instances when you were the bully. Or where bullying came from an unexpected source. And if you’d like, also touch on your thoughts about this, about where words and actions cross the line from meanness/rudeness/inappropriateness to bullying.

A bully is really only beating him or herself up……only you’re the one doubled over in agony, scrambling for your broken glasses and your shattered dignity. No joke (In fact, you should never joke with a bully, as they always finish up with a strong punch-line). Bullies are always on the prowl for a quick and dirty fight. It’s best to leave them to simmer solo in their own beastly juices. Trying to win is the surest way to lose. The battle they’re fighting isn’t with you.  It’s with themselves. You’d just get in the way…


One of the great perks of being an author, at least I think so, is the contact with our readers, including going into schools to speak. Have any of you ever been approached by students who conveyed their own bully-related experiences or maybe asked your help? Or have you received letters that speak to that? How did you respond? How do you help a person when you’ll only have such limited contact?

I hated middle school. Hated it. So I find it supremely ironic that, after writing a bunch of books for middle-readers, I find myself having to go to schools for appearances. It’s like if I wrote a book about terrible prison experiences, then had to do a tour of maximum security penitentiaries. Yay. Maybe my next series should be about tropical spa vacations. Anyway, I don’t have a wide audience. My books are kind of cult-y. Niche. But the fan-base are really devoted. Half of the letters or messages I get are from adults, which is interesting. Also a lot of “spooky” teen girls, which I didn’t bargain for. I thought Heck would appeal mostly the pre-teen boys, but girls have really latched on to Marlo. Anyway, while I haven’t gotten any letters specifically about bullying, I can tell that my books are savored by outcasts: those that feel different. And that my stories, humor, outlook and way of writing appeal to them. They really enjoy the obscure references that make them feel part of an exclusive club. And I know that, when I was growing up, sci-fi and punk music really helped me through. It was very different then: media wasn’t so omnipresent. You had to actively seek out the things that you liked and, with the effort and intention that required, it made you feel like part of a club. Just knowing that there were other freaks out there that liked what I liked made school much more bearable.


There is a common opinion that many kids who get bullied bring it on themselves. They come to class dressed weirdly or raise their hands and ask strange questions or otherwise present themselves like wounded animals exposing their vulnerabilities. Or that when they react and show emotion to some sort of jab or insult, they make themselves a target. Even those who hang around on the fringes of the popular kids are setting themselves up for disaster. How does bullying begin, in your opinion? Why are some kids targeted over others? Do you see a stereotypical set of victim characteristics? Are some kids just asking for it? And is that common opinion at all true?

I have actually never ever heard that or even considered that. I think it is a sort of gross stereotype, rather like blaming women who dress provocatively of their own sexual assault. Sure, in retrospect, maybe my bright yellow C-3PO T-shirt or tie-dyed Navy jacket adorned with pins and badges or pajama tops and leather jackets weren’t exactly the right thing to wear to school to avoid getting picked on, but it was who I was. For the most part, I didn’t think how I brought bullying on…although, wait, scratch that. I remember one time some kid making fun of my eyelashes. They were really long, like Bambi-long. So I went home and cut them. They mostly grew back, but my mom never really forgave me. To this day, she’ll bring up how long my lashes used to be before I cut them. I was also incredibly pale as a kid, mainly because everything interesting to me involved being inside. So there was a summer where I just laid out in the sun—no sun protection—and baked until golden brown. While it prevented me from being called “albino,” now in my late-forties I have to contend with the sun damage!


So there you are being brutally bullied in school. The adults who should call a halt to it or at least acknowledge it with some sympathy either turn the other cheek or adopt a “kids will be kids” attitude. If pressed they might argue that it’s the way society has always been and always will be; that it’s part of the normal process of maturing; that you learn more when you deal with your problems yourselves; that the kids will work it out. Besides, if they were to step in and stand up for that student, it could, they’ve been known to say:

A). Add more fuel to the fire, with the aggressor seeing that kid as a poor, little teacher’s pet.

B). Be even more disruptive to the classroom-learning environment.

C). Have the teacher open him/herself to attack from the bully or from the bully’s parents.

Is there any validity to any of those arguments for school personnel to stay out of it? What do you see as the roles of teachers and administrators when it comes to bullying? How can school faculty overcome their own concerns about intervening? Is there a way that those who are being bullied can persuade a skeptical faculty member to step in?

In the moment, sometimes it might make a victim uncomfortable to have a teacher intervene (though there is immediate relief), but I think we have to look at the bigger picture. If teachers become involved, that is sending a message that the school—and therefore society—do not condone bullying. That it is unacceptable. Nothing is worse than being victimized and knowing that adults know what is going on but choose to do nothing. That makes you feel like you deserve the abuse, somehow. While it is true that it is really up to the bully and the bullied to alter the dynamic—outside interference does little to really attack the root of the problem—I think it is vital that everyone involved know that it is not okay to bully. I remember in middle school we had a PE coach for a while, his name was—get this—Tiny. And, of course, he wasn’t. One of those nicknames that bullies adopt to basically dare you to say something, I’m sure. Anyway, my friend Guy Himber and I were trying our best to play football despite our utter non-interest and complete lack of skill, and the boys who basically lived to play football as an excuse to hit each other would always plow into us with undisguised glee. So, I had headgear—of course—and after one particularly vicious play, Guy and I were pretty banged up and were either crying or were on the verge of crying, and I recall vividly Tiny, surrounded by a pack of snickering boys, just laughing at us. An adult not only thinking that it was fine for some boys to physically abuse others, but openly condoning, even celebrating it. That really pissed me off. I mean, what an awful, awful person. I’m sure there is an open position in Heck just waiting for Coach Tiny!


If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem – extrapolated from an Eldridge Cleaver quote.  I know I’ve been guilty of being part of the problem. In first grade, for example, someone started calling a kid in our class, Clod. Gary was a nice enough kid, but he was already taller than everyone except the teacher. And his awkwardness seemed to be born from his early size. It got to be a nickname so much so that he even wrote it on his school papers.  And yet, even at six, I knew it wasn’t right. Still, what could I do about it? And that’s a long way to ask you to speak to this. Talk about the very common practice of otherwise good, kind kids who get swept up in the gang mentality. Why do you see that happening? How can a 6- or 10- or 16-year-old intervene without making themselves the victim? Or how can they simply not feed into it?

That’s a really interesting question. Yes, there was one kid in particular—Greg McCaffey—that I feel really bad about. It’s an interesting phenomenon, when you have been bullied and then there comes a situation where you find yourself joining in the pack against another kid. I’m sure it was really about fear: fear that if you didn’t join in, they would attack you. Or just the misguided feeling that, by bullying someone else you yourself wouldn’t be bullied. Greg was, I believe, the principal’s son. And he rather resembled Stephen Hawking, only without need of a wheelchair. Everyone would just call him freak. He was way skinny, had a slight speech impediment…man, I feel awful. I never called him names myself, but I was guilty of snickering when others did. It was so strange how he became someone that even the bullied would pick on. Yuck.

Anger is like the zombie apocalypse. When you are squaring off against the undead you’re facing a no-win situation. You can’t kill them. And with one savage, infecting bite, suddenly you’re biting for the other team. Anger is also—like laughter and whooping cough—highly contagious. It spreads mercilessly from person to person, feeding off human frailty like a toddler to a juice box, until there’s no right or wrong, my way or the highway, only raging rage and full-on fury. Fighting fire with fire is only a win for fire…


I read an article last May about a mom who, upon hearing her daughter had been relentlessly teasing kids at school about their ugly clothes, removed her daughter’s clothes and left her only with two unstylish thrift store outfits. The girl was forced to wear those ugly clothes to school and feel the ridicule. The reaction to this story was divided into two camps:

1). The mother was (successful in) teaching her daughter empathy;

2). The mother was (successful in) displaying/modeling bullying actions herself.

Where do you fall on this? And how can we encourage and teach empathy and/or how it feels to be on the other end of the cruelty?

Even though I feel a little embarrassed to say this, my first reaction is: yeah…way to go, weird mother! I don’t if this type of public shaming is always the right thing to do—or even if it is at ANY time—but, as a parent, I know how hard to is to accept when your kid has done something awful to another kid, and to force them to make it right. Perhaps that’s the key. Ideally, it would be best if you didn’t have to force them but, instead, convinced them what they were doing was wrong and brainstorm ways of rectifying the situation. That would be ideal. But I think one thing we are losing in our modern society is the concept of empathy. As a writer, I really think that one of the main strengths of reading, especially novels, is that they put you into the perspective of another person. And that ability, to see life through someone else’s eyes, is crucial to becoming a fully-realized human being. That’s why I get so worried when I read about kids not picking up novels like they used to. And, I don’t know if anyone has seen that Conan O’Brien show with Louis CK where he talks about cellphones, but there was one bit where he was talking about how technology makes it so much easier to be a bully because you don’t have to see the reaction: how awful someone feels when they are being bullied. You can just send something awful into the ether and not have to deal with it. Like being in a bomber and dropping bombs on some city, where you don’t have to see all the people you’ve killed. So I worry about the death of empathy. Anyway, I don’t know if forcing empathy upon a bully works—I can imagine it fueling a lot of animosity—but I would think that at least in some cases, a bully might actually “get it.” And I’m all for engaged parents who want to help their kids be better citizens, short of beating them which would only perpetuate the cycle of abuse.


If you could have a conversation with or write a letter to your younger self, what would you tell that kid? What advice would you give to deal with school bullies? Or with faculty who stood around and did nothing? What can you say to take your younger self from that feeling of powerlessness to empowerment? And what about the timetable? What sort of realistic progress should you expect to see? How and when can you hope to wake up without the sense of heaviness and clouds and impending doom every school morning? What would you tell your younger self about the future?

Being an adolescent is hard. Harder now than ever, actually. Especially with all of the adult tools nowadays that only kids have the disposable time to completely utilize for evil. The key to it all is perspective. Now, in retrospect, I know that that time was fleeting. Transitory. But a blip. Sure, it was awful at times, but now I know that it was just a patch of bad road. At the time, though, it seemed impossibly deep and impassably terrible. And it’s really hard to convince someone with no perspective to have perspective.

A bully is basically no different than their victim, only he or she tends to keep their bruises on the inside. That anger makes you feel like you just at a hive of molten-hot bees. And that’s why most bullies, quite understandably, try their best to uncork that bottled rage and pour it all over anyone and everyone at hand.”

Anyway, Auntie Heather’s Less Than Three Conference was a life changer. And, while I would love to attend again, here’s hoping there’s no need for an anti-bullying conference in the future! Oh…and here are some blogs that covered the wonderful Less Than Three conference far better than I…be sure to check them out!






Trick AND Treat!

HNI_0007Vermont may be for lovers, but Halloween is for Hecklers! To prove it, I will give a signed book (maybe even a Circles of Heck book) to the first THREE Hecklers that send me pictures or video of them dressed as a character from my Heck series (new photos, please…I know a few of you have dressed like Milton or Marlo in the past!). Please send all photographic (or videographic) evidence to: heck@wherethebadkidsgo.com! Ready…set…GO CRAZY!

The Hardly Boys Mysteries: The Best-Not-Trifled-With Occurrence

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 9.42.19 AMChapter One: A Good Day for Staying Out of Trouble

Frank and Joe Hardly clutched the grips of their padded scooters and stared in horror at the oncoming jalopy. 

“He’ll hit us!” Frank shrieked.

“Or she’ll hit us,” Joe corrected. “We mustn’t rashly assume gender.”

“Whomever is driving could very well hit us upon passing. They could succumb to a sudden stroke, be fiddling with the radio, or simply bear a grudge against two impeccably clean young men out for a brisk stroll after being told to get some fresh air by their irritable governess…”

“We’d better cautiously ascend this hillside, taking our time as to avoid injury!” Frank exclaimed, as the boys started up the mild embankment, the training wheels of their scooters grumbling over the gravel.

To their amazement, the car passed without incident. 

“Wow!” said Joe. “Let’s go back home before that crazy guy—“

“Or girl.”

“—comes back to finish the job.” 

 On their right,  an embankment of plush moss sloped gradually to an ambitious puddle. From the opposite side rose a small blackberry bush.

“Watch your step, Frank, or Dad’s papers won’t get delivered.”

Frank reached into his jacket pocket to be sure several important legal papers were still there. Relieved to find them, Frank chuckled and said, “After we help father with his latest personal injury case, he ought to set up the firm of Hardly and Sons.”

“That would be very sensible of him,” Joe replied with a respectable grin. “Isn’t he one of the most famous claims adjusters in the country? And aren’t we meticulous and content to spend our days assessing the amount of compensation that should be paid after a person has made a claim on their insurance policy too?”

Just then, the two boys heard the gentle clatter of a car approaching from their rear. 

“An ice cream truck!” Joe burst out.

“Good night!” Frank replied, clearing his throat. “I’m already getting all phlegmy.”

At once the Hardlys stopped and pulled as close to the edge as they dared.

The ice cream van ambled slowly past. 

“Whew!That was close!” Frank gasped. 

“If I ever meet that driver again,” Joe muttered, “I’ll -I’ll…have the butler deliver a strongly worded reprimand!” 

Perhaps we should entrust a proper carrier with these papers,” Frank said.

“Yes,” Joe agreed meekly. “Better safe than sorry.” 

“We can stop off at Chet’s.”

Chet Morton, who was a school chum of the Hardly boys, lived on an estate about a mile out of Cravenport. 

The two boys laughed.

“Just kidding,” Frank added. “Chet is disgusting.”

Beyond the tall bushes was a flaming, overturned wreck with wheels cast upward. 

“Egad!” gasped Frank in terror. “Do you think we should—“

“Most definitely,” Joe interrupted. “Run home as fast as we can and make a detailed report!”

The brother climbed carefully out of the culvert and rode home at a sensible speed upon their padded scooters. 

“After we phone the authorities,” Frank said, his voice quavering with fear, “perhaps we can relax with a game of Chinese checkers.”

Joe blanched.

“Perhaps something less…exotic. Like regular checkers.”

“Capital idea!”


 Chapter Two: A Calming Sip of Not-Too Hot Chocolate…


New Ways to Let All Heck Loose!

It’s always an exciting time here at the Basye™ household when the UPS man/woman/other delivers those big boxes from Random House full of pre-release goodies! This week, I got:

The paperback version of Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck (to be released Tuesday, February 26th…seen here with its pulp siblings);

Photo on 2-15-13 at 1.48 PM

• the hardcover of Precocia: The Sixth Circle of Heck (also to be released Tuesday, February 26th, seen here alone and with its sturdy, hard-bound siblings);

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• the Spanish version of Heck, Donde Van Los Chicos Malos (this I got a while ago, actually, but it deserves a mention);

Photo on 2-15-13 at 1.49 PM #2

• and the Danish version of Heck called Hulen, translated by the wonderful Soren Kristensen, available wherever odd Danish children’s books are sold.

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Behold! And be sold!

Heck Goes Back To School, Part Three

Here are some more Franken-stories from Neah-Kah-Ni Middle and High School!



Letters To Heck, Part Two

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you for your great letter! I hope you like the first Heck book enough to read the others (the fifth one, Snivel, comes out on Tuesday, May 22nd!). I think they get better and better as they go on, mainly because I think I get a better grasp of the characters and the (under)world of Heck as I continue to write. It’s interesting that you mention them painting a picture in your mind (hopefully not using that stinky kind of paint) because I write what I see in my head as I am a pretty visual person. I kind of see Heck as a movie then just write down the images.

Okay, with further ado, here are the answers to your specific questions:

1) Why does Bea “Elsa” Bubb want to starve Lucky, Milton’s ferret?
Answer: Well, since I wrote the first book about six years ago, some of the details are—like Luck the ferret—rather fuzzy. My impression is that Lucky starved himself in order to squeeze through the bars of his cage to escape. I’m assuming this is the scene you mean, right? (I don’t know why I ask you this in the letter, it’s not like I’d be able to hear you on the other side of this letter).

2) Why hasn’t Marlo stood up to Bordeaux and Lyon yet?
Answer: When Marlo is first in Heck, she is very confused. She’s outside of her comfort zone. She’s used to being the bad kid and now she’s surrounded by bad kids and is unsure about her identity…her place in Heck. So she probably lets Lyon and Bordeaux get to her more than usual because of this. Bordeaux and Lyon appear in future Heck books and Marlo is better prepared for them.

3) How did Bea “Elsa” Bubb know that Milton, Marlo, and Virgil escaped?
Answer: Again, it’s been a while since I’ve written the book, but I know that Principal Bubb was initially tracking them by using Cerberus, who was disguised as Lucky. Once alerted, she realized that there was a ruse, and she corners them just outside the Gates of Heck for the standoff at the end of the book.

4) Why did Bea “Elsa” Bubb give Milton and Marlo the Gummo Badger candy to shut them up?
Answer: Principal Bubb did this for two reasons: One, to be mean by providing candy that really wasn’t candy, and Two, this candy happened to seal their mouths shut like cement. So while she could have simply told them to be quite, this way provided more wicked fun for her.

5) Does Annubis show up in other Heck books?
Answer: Yes, he does. I won’t tell you which ones, specifically, but he does appear in a couple of future installments.

6) Why was the happy song playing in the sad bank like place?
Answer: Because, in my experience, sad bank-like places are always playing depressingly happy music in an attempt to soothe the irritated people that are forced to wait and wait and wait in an irritating place. Plus, there seems something particularly cruel about playing happy music in a sad place…kind of rubbing your face (or ears, actually) in a happiness you will never experience.

7) Why did Marlo lie to the Praying Mantis teacher to get into the Time-Out room? Why did the Teacher believe Marlo?
Answer: I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean. I re-read the scene and don’t recall Marlo lying to the teacher. Maybe I read an earlier draft.

8) Why didn’t the kids notice that the clock didn’t change in the Almost Christmas house? How did you think about the Almost Christmas house?
Answer: The children were locked in a state of perpetual anticipation, as punishment. By being impatient when alive, their sentence in the afterlife was to be forever trapped in a moment, and not just any moment, but the moment right before it’s Christmas, which never comes. If they had the ability to notice that time didn’t advance, then they’d be able to step out of their anticipation and realize it’s a trick. I came up with the Almost Christmas house because it seemed like a fitting punishment for edgy, impatient kids. I remember how excited I’d get right before Christmas. It’s almost unbearable!

9) Why did Blackbeard pick on Virgil and Milton?
Answer: The real reason is because I wanted Virgil and Milton to do something interesting, which was walk the plank. In the story, Blackbeard probably picked on Milton because he asked too many questions, and Virgil was sitting right next to him, and that’s usually how teachers operate, even dead pirate teachers.

10) What is your favorite book that you wrote?
Answer: So far, my favorites are Fibble: The Fourth Circle of Heck and Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck. Fibble was fun because I used to work in advertising, and Fibble—since it deals with lies—focuses on advertising. I’m proud of Snivel because it’s rather ambitious: there’s a lot going on!

11) What other books of yours would you recommend to a reader like me?
Answer: That’s easy since I’ve only published five so far, all of them in the Heck series! I’d just be curious how you enjoy the next installments of Heck. I view them all as one really big book rather than a bunch of little ones. The Heck books will now be released every nine months, so I don’t have much time to write anything else. When I’m through with the series, I’ll be pursuing a lot of other ideas I have: a few for younger kids but most of them for teens.

12) How many books are there in the Heck series?
Answer: There will be nine: Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go, Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck, Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck, Fibble: The Fourth Circle of Heck, Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck, Precocia: The Sixth Circle of Heck, Lipptor: The Seventh Circle of Heck, Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck, and Dupli-City: The Ninth Circle of Heck.

13) What inspired you to write the Heck series?
Answer: My brain, mostly. That’s where I get most of my answers from. Once I got an answer from my left foot, but that was only because I stepped on a Post-It note. Okay, seriously: I’ve always had a dark sense of humor, and one day I was thinking about Hell. I mean, that seems way too intense a place to send bad kids, so maybe bad kids would go to Heck since that’s not as bad a word as Hell. Plus, I was thinking about my days in middle school. I really didn’t like that time of my life too much, because I wasn’t a little kid who could just have fun all of the time, but I wasn’t a big kid who could drive and stuff. It’s sort of this weird “limbo” time…where everything seems to just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…you get the idea, Elizabeth. So I did a mental mash-up of those two thoughts and came up with Heck! The rest was pretty simple. There’s lot of material to work with regarding the afterlife!

14) What inspired you to make some of the characters?
Answer: In general, I’m a little bit like Milton and Marlo mooshed together. I can be overly cautious and think too much like Milton, and I can be a little reckless like Marlo. It’s fun to bounce back and forth between both of their perspectives. The other characters either just came to me or were based on people I know.

15) Did you read books that inspired you to write Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go?
Answer: When I’m writing a book, most everything inspires me: what I read, what I hear, what I see…If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader. It’s sort of a fuel that helps you write, or at least to help you think in terms of “words.” For the first book, I was reading a lot of Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka). He was wonderful. Really dark sense of humor but a lot of heart also. I also liked the Golden Compass books. I tried to get into Series of Unfortunate Events when it came out, but it was just too dark…even for me! When I write, I try to have enough humor and hope so things don’t get too bleak.

Well, I hope that helps answer some of your wonderful questions! Thank you again, so much, for reading my books, Elizabeth!

Dale Basye

Letters To Heck, Part One

Dear Rylee,

I like your name. I “Rylee” like your name! Get it? That’s sort of a joke, though not a very funny one. That’s what I get for writing a letter before my morning coffee. Coffee kind of helps old people act like they’re younger than they are. At least for me. I’m so glad you like my books! I enjoyed writing the “So You’re Dead” part of the first Heck book. I always wanted my book publisher to make that into a pamphlet that I could give to kids, but they never would.

So, without further ado, here are the answers to your great questions!

1) Where did you get the ideas to write Heck?

Answer: From my brain, silly. That’s where I get most of my answers from. Once I got an answer from my left foot, but that was only because I stepped on a Post-It note. Okay, seriously: I’ve always had a dark sense of humor, and one day I was thinking about Hell. I mean, that seems way too intense a place to send bad kids, so maybe bad kids would go to Heck since that’s not as bad a word as Hell. Plus, I was thinking about my days in middle school. I really didn’t like that time of my life too much, because I wasn’t a little kid who could just have fun all of the time, but I wasn’t a big kid who could drive and stuff. It’s sort of this weird “limbo” time…where everything seems to just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…you get the idea, Rylee. So I did a mental mash-up of those two thoughts and came up with Heck! The rest was pretty simple. There’s lot of material to work with regarding the afterlife!

2) Are you like any of the characters?

Answer: Well, have you read Fibble: The Fourth Circle of Heck yet? I am an awful lot like one of the characters in that book! In general, I’m a little bit like Milton and Marlo mooshed together. I can be overly cautious and think too much like Milton, and I can be a little reckless like Marlo. It’s fun to bounce back and forth between both of their perspectives.

3) Have you written any other books besides the Heck series?

Answer: I have written a couple of other books, but nothing that has been published. One of those I’m hoping will be published at some point. It’s for younger kids. I have a lot of ideas, some for the Heck age group, some for older kids and teens. I just don’t have time to write them. I’ll probably have to wait until I’m through with the 9th (and final) Heck book, which I will probably write next year.

Thanks for the great letter, Rylee! Let me know if you have any other questions!


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Expires: Soonish

Limit: Only your imagination.

Must be 21 or older, or younger than 21, or EXACTLY 21.

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* Fart Spray not included.