Demolition

Demolition The stately mansion stood tall for one hundred years. But after the death of its last owner, the old house has been neglected and forgotten, its garden overgrown by rose bushes.
When three children stumble upon the old house, it gains a new lease on life, doubling for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the children’s imagination. But unbeknownst to the children, the old house is under threat, for real estate developers have no use for enchanted fairy tale castles…

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Read an excerpt.

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Some background information:

  • Demolition is a short story of 3300 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • Along with “He has come back to me…”, Rites of Passage and The Hybrids, Demolition is one of my oldest surviving pieces of fiction. I wrote it for a writing class in my second semester at university, the same writing class coincidentally for which I also wrote The Hybrids.
  • Of course, Demolition has been extensively rewritten since then, though not quite as extensively as e.g. The Hybrids.
  • The original title of the story was The Demolition of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It was written in response to the word “demolition” used as a writing prompt.
  • The three children were originally called by the very 1950ish names of Margaret, Jimmy and Shirley. I modernised the names during the rewrite.
  • The name of the developer M.O. Neymaker as well as the architectural firm of Square & Block actually were in the original version. I kept them in, though the pun is a bit laboured, because the names made me smile upon rereading.
  • Demolition also has the distinction for being the first story of mine ever to be rejected anywhere. At the suggestion of my writing teacher at university, I sent it to a British newspaper called The European, which had a short story competition for a prize of 50 GBP. So I bought a copy of the newspaper, read the winning story for that week, something about two gay men running an antique shop in Florence, thought, “Well, I can do better than that” and sent in Demolition. Two weeks later I got a rejection letter, my first one ever. I still have it somewhere.
  • There is no direct inspiration for this story beyond the fact that I felt and continue to feel very strongly about the destruction of vintage architecture to make room for shopping malls, hotels and apartment buildings. I also have a strong preference for Victorian, Art Noveau or Art Deco architecture over modernism and particularly the International Style.
  • The cover image is a stock photo by Greek photographer Antonis Liokouras via Dreamstime and depicts an abandoned villa on the island of Corfu.
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