Illustration and cover design by Michael Reibsome

Good stories are almost always about interesting characters. The more interesting the better and, whenever possible, go for larger-than-life. My satire and political thriller Sally and Billy in Babyland is about two preteens who are thrust into a strange, dystopian world and they have to survive and ultimately triumph in that world.

Along the way they meet some larger-than-life characters.

But in the beginning I tried to make their family as normal as possible. One clue that I was on the right track was that my wife was very annoyed with me when she read an early draft because it seemed like I was using our family situation as the basis for the story.

To be honest, it really begins as family satire. I think there’s quite a few absurd things modern American families do, especially those with enough advantages that they can afford to do absurd things. In our own family, we made every effort to give our kids the opportunity to play whatever sports or extracurricular activities they wanted to. So we spent most weekends running around to games, practices, rehearsals, recitals and parties with other kids. It was fun while it lasted. I don’t regret it. But when you put it in a certain light it can seem just a little over-the-top.

Or you could argue that we didn’t take it far enough.

That’s how I set up the family in this story.

Once the children are abandoned in the woods (for the record, we never, ever abandoned our own children in the woods) things get strange very quickly. There are animal characters in the story but I try to make them as recognizable as possible as people you might encounter here in America. And when the children arrive in Babyland, as strange as that world may seem, I also relied upon real-world situations that any of us might encounter.

I do intend the story to be a satirical comedy, so the jokes have to be rooted in reality. It is making a commentary on our real-world situations. Obviously, the story won’t be to everyone’s liking. But for those of you who give it a shot, I hope you enjoy the ride.