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Candle Man in Texas

I’ve just finished doing 14 events in schools and bookshops in Texas, which means I’ve spoken to around 2,000 kids and said to them all: ‘and then, before their eyes…. he melted.’

I spent five days in Lufkin, which isn’t the biggest place in the state, but by some quirk of planning and happenstance has the largest middle school in Texas.

Teachers have shaken my hand, baked me cookies, called me ‘Sir’, provided lifts in their enormous cars, rushed me out to drive-in delis for my lunchtime sandwich, and put chocolate shakes in my hand if I looked thirsty. The kids have got to know me, coming up to me in the corridor asking me to sign bits of paper, look at their cartoons and poems, and ask me to say ‘aloominum’ – they can’t believe we Brits pronounce every bit of ‘aluminium’.

Lufkin has been staging the musical ‘Oklahoma’ and it was a delight to see their version of the show, as well as the children wandering here and there in the corridors in period costume.

I’ve had three lunches with student groups, all of which have been accompanied by Candle Man cookies, baked in the shape of the snow globe Theo is given in Chapter one of book one.  Kids have asked me great questions. How do you decide what size to make your characters? Why are Clarice and Chloe twins? Were you invited to the royal wedding?

My favourite question came from a boy at St Cyprian’s school, who at the end of my talk, asked in a quiet voice: ‘Is this the world?’

‘I’ll just check,’ I replied, looking at the ground below my feet. ‘Yes, yes, I believe it is.’

I realised afterwards he was probably asking if Candle Man was set in the real world. Still, we authors have to get out laughs somehow.

I have to give special mention to Diana Hineman who looked after me so well I had nothing to worry about except remembering to open my mouth when it was time for my events. With her family we went on one of my favourite excursions of the week, to the ‘Boil and Go’ crawfish restaurant.

The food is served out of a caravan on a street corner, heaved from a big boiling contraption like something out of ‘Deadliest Catch’. The customer gets a plate heaped with crustaceans – crab, crawfish, shrimp, plus sweetcorn and red potatoes. This spectacular feast is infused with hot spices which I was assured would make my lips burn later on in the evening – and they did.

The customers were families, beefy bikers in bandanas, a man in a multicoloured sombrero, and me. Our waitress was one of the schoolgirls I had spoken to in my events, and it was funny to see her delicately explaining how to twist, rip and pull a crayfish apart, in the midst of a crazy outdoor racket of music, traffic and raucous customers.

I mistakenly referred to Boil and Go, as ‘Boil–a-Bug’, when talking to Egmont about it, and since they call crawfish ‘mudbugs’ here, that could be a name to go forward with.

At the end of the feast, one of the kids at the table said to me in a confiding way: ‘this is the second most redneck thing you can do around here!’ On enquiry, the MOST redneck thing turned out to be ‘a bonfire in the country’. I think he meant a barbecue.

One less than brilliant trip was my signing at a book store almost an hour away up the road. My books hadn’t arrived on the right day, so I went to the shop the day after (when I would actually have something to sign). It was weird to sit in an empty, cavernous bookstore, next to a poster saying I had been there the day before.  To cheer me up the owner said it had been empty the day before too.

Now I’m in Houston, and it is all change. My main amusement is that the put-upon reception guy in my hotel sounds exactly like Squidward so it’s fun asking him for stuff.

My final event – a signing at Barnes and Noble, gave me the chance to meet Laura Montgomery who is giving my book a great boost here. Outside of Tristus himself, I doubt if anyone has looked after the Candle Man so well. It was great to finally meet someone with such an insight into my book and talk to her about – well, Dr Who of course! Hi Laura, hi Diana… seeya Texas. A cold beer and then I’m outta here…

Will make your lips burn


About Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin is a writer, cartoonist and editor. He is author of the Candle Man series of fantasy novels for Egmont. His best-known comics are Abe - an autobiographical strip (Top Shelf);Temptation (Penguin Books and Active Images); Spider-Man heroes and Villains (Eaglemoss);the Rockpool Files (With Phil Elliott, Slave Labor/Marvel UK); Robot Crusoe (Funday TImes); Plasmer (Marvel UK); Clan Destine (Marvel USA).

16 responses to “Candle Man in Texas

  1. Tom

    Glenn – you’re still in USA? Woah! And yes, this IS the world, but ONLY in Texas is it so gosh durn big!

    Glad they’re treating you well.


    • Hi Tom, I’m not still in the USA, I went home then flew back out again. But now, I’m just home in the UK all over again. Yep, Texas was big, Houston was all kind of spread out, so you had to take a cab everywhere, even just for a quick beer. Nowhere was close to anything else!

      • Tom Hart

        Unreal, right? And Americans LIKE it that way. We’re no damn good and we’re bringing the whole planet down with us.

        Austin’s livable, and a cafe/beer/book town too. If you ever get invited there, go, and get some tacos and see some music.

  2. Laura ⋅

    Oh Houston isn’t that bad…it just took me about 2 years to figure my 5 mile radius out, lol. Texas is huge and I guess Houston does a good job reflecting that. I wish I lived in Austin though, my husband and I try to go up there whenever we get a chance.

    Glenn, it was so nice meeting you in person finally and thank you for being so sweet and staying to chat even though you were so exhausted. Hopefully next time we can meet up again under not so tiring circumstances. Its good to hear you made it home safely. Again thank you.

    • Re: Houston, I found a restaurant called the Olive Garden which had a little bar section so I could imagine I was in an English pub. I had a couple of cold beers then got to my hotel in time for Dr Who. Laura, I popped back into your store on the Sunday morning to do a bit of shopping and take a couple of pics of my display. I was more tired than I realised by the time I hit Houston, a truly gruelling week! But very fulfilling too.

      • Laura ⋅

        Completely understandable. That is usually how I feel after doing several bookfairs in one week. What did you think about Dr Who this week? It felt kinda blah to me, but I’m sure it will serve a purpose for the bigger picture.

  3. Dan ⋅

    It was so cool having you come to my middle school! I hope you liked Lufkin too. I wouldn’t really consider myself a redneck, but the kid at the boil n go was one of my long time friends! Your book sounds really good, and I bought a copy that you autographed. I wish you even more luck as an author. I have always found Europe amazing, and I hope that I get to go someday also. There is one question that has been on my mind, do you like Monty python? I find them genius and the flying circus is one of my favorite shows ever. Wish you well,

    • Yes, Daniel – I’m a big fan of Monty Python, and used to stay up late to watch the TV shows when I was your age. The movie ‘Holy Grail’ is one of the best. Recently I took my son Cory to see the stage show Spamalot and he loved it – especially the monks who chant while hitting themselves in the head. Great to hear from you. I had such a great time at the school meeting everyone! Home and recovering now, telling my family all about Texas.

      • Daniel ⋅

        That is so cool that you like Monty Python! I am one of the few people here that I think even knows about them. Also in my last comment I forgot to mention something. I wouldn’t really consider the crawfish thing being exactly “redneck”, it’s actually more cajun (from south Louisiana). I’m really glad that you liked TX and I hope that you find even more success as an author. And one last thing, would you reccomend the show “Doctor Who” to me? I’ve heard of it, and one of my friends watches it, I just don’t really know any thing about it.

  4. Tom Hart

    Indeed, don’t listen to my grousing. Laura, thank you for hosting one of my favorite writer/artists!

    • Laura ⋅

      Thank you Tom, it felt more like a honor in a lot of ways, because Glenn isn’t just a great author but a friend.

  5. Alan


    I trust you’ll have a stetson on this Wed? Stetson’s are cool…

    Sounds a great trip and I’m very jealous!


  6. Teresa Ragland ⋅

    Thank you so much for your kind words about our production of Oklahoma! We were honored to have you at LMS and the students throughly enjoyed your talks. If I had known you were a big Dr. Who fan, I would have brought my hubby over. Sigh, NO ONE can watch ANYTHING ELSE when Dr. Who is on!!! YOu could have debated the pros and cons of the new Dr. vs. DT (who I loved, the new Dr. not so much). Glad that you had a great time and a safe journey home! I hope to start on Candleman Bk 2 by the wkend!

    • Hi Teresa, thanks for dropping in! Yes I loved seeing Oklahoma, and if I’d been staying longer would have wanted to see it again – the full version with ‘Poor Judd is daid’ added in!
      Actually I was stopped by security at Houston airport – ‘could I have a word with you, sir?’ I was worried for a moment, then the woman grinned and asked me why I was wearing an Oklahoma t-shirt, as she was from Oklahoma. Diana gave me it and I wore it on the flight home. Hope you’ll be reading Candle Man – maybe your husband would like it, as some of the weirdness and humour is a bit Dr Who-esque! 🙂

  7. Hey Daniel, (continued from above)
    You asked if I could recommend Dr Who to you – I certainly would, it’s an imaginative show, sometimes dark, sometimes funny, about a rather crazy guy who travels through time and space, fighting alien menaces. The great thing about Dr Who is it can be set any where, in any time! It usually features mind-boggling ideas, witty dialogue and wacky visuals. It certainly influenced me with my book Candle Man. I hope you’ll give it a try…

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