Monday, December 2, 2013

Pete Catalano: GRIMM & CO

Name: Pete Catalano
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: GRIMM & CO

After what had turned out to be another very long day, I gathered my things, turned out all the lights in the office and turned on the lamps fastened securely to the building that illuminated the name GRIMM & CO that was painted, rather beautifully, over the entrance.  
Stepping out onto the first in a series of limestone steps, I found night had come much earlier than expected. Once again I would have to walk home in the dark. Three steps down and out onto the cobbles, the first remnants of evening mist hugged them tightly as it rolled through the streets of an unexpectedly quiet Fairytale land.
The sharp clack of my heels as they struck the cobbles echoed off the face of the tumble down brick buildings that lined the snickelway. It was, eerily enough, the only sound to be heard.
Walking under the gas lamps, I slowed my pace as a strange popping noise started from somewhere just ahead of me. I saw one of the lamps farther down the block flicker a few times and then go out. I stopped in mid step, letting my hands carefully fall to my sides. Three more lamps in front of me dimmed within moments, one after another, until the only one left to light up the night was the one directly above me.
The moment I looked up, the lamp grew bright as the others had and just as I thought it would burst, it snapped dark, leaving the bright outline of the bulb still fresh in my eyes.            
I twisted my hands slightly, letting the knowing knives dislodge from my wrist sheaths and slip into my waiting hands. I closed my eyes, taking two blind steps forward before shooting my left arm out to the side, placing the tip of my blade under a very familiar chin.
“Hello, Duke,” I said to Duke Wolfe, my on again off again partner, and resident poison expert at the GRIMM & CO. Wolfe is charming, cursed, and despite being exasperating at times, one of the few people I trust . . . mostly.
“Hello Red,” Duke smiled, as he pushed the blade delicately away from his throat. Every smile from him looks like a leer but it’s part of his genetics, but not his character. “A beautiful woman like yourself shouldn’t be walking home alone, especially after dark, especially on a night like this.”
I retracted my knife back into its sheath and Duke reached up to the spot on his chin and wiped his fingers across it to see if it drew blood. “What makes this night so different from the rest?”
“How was work today?” he asked, changing the subject as he shied away from either my question or his answer.
“It was okay,” I said, trying to figure out why he shown up out of nowhere, how he managed to make those gas lamps go out one by one, and why was he suddenly so interested in work. “A little busier than I had expected, but that’s because one of the partners didn’t show up the way he had promised . . . again.”
Duke smiled shyly. “Sorry Red, just one of those things that came up last minute. Time is valuable these days. If it will make it any easier on you I will be there first thing in the morning and catch up on anything that I’ve missed.”
“That would be great,” I agreed, though a little surprised. “Why the sudden change of heart?”
“I . . . I have a friend of mine that will be coming into the office in the morning,” Duke said. “An old friend that has helped me a great deal throughout the years and has never asked for anything in return.”
“And now he’s asking?” I said.
“And now he’s asking,” Duke repeated. “He needs our help Red, rather he needs help from you and Nathan. I’ll just be around to make sure he cooperates as much as you need him to in order to get the answers he’s looking for.”
Passing a corner where the lights have been turned off I looked at Duke. “This some of your work?”
“No,” Duke laughed. “I did the ones around the office for effect. It took me nearly all day to rig those up. I didn’t have anything to do with this one.”
As we walked I saw some movement in the shadows.
“Hey, Red,” a voice called out from the darkness as the sound of a violin, guitar, an even a cello rang out ever so softly.
“Hello, boys,” I nodded and the music followed us down the block, choreographing our movements.
“They are so annoying with that,” Duke groused. “Especially when you run. Don’t ever run past them, Red. It’s embarrassing.”
“They’re old, Duke,” I laughed, “and just trying to fit in like everyone else. It’s tough trying to find a gig for a dog, cat, donkey and rooster all playing string instruments. Nobody ever belies they can play a note, until they hear them.”
“Then why aren’t they working somewhere and staying off the streets and out of my soundtrack?” Duke asked.
“Hey, I asked the,” I said. “Had them all lined up but they like being on the corner and setting the mood for all of Fairytale Land. They are pretty good at it.”
“Hey Red, where exactly is Bremen?”
“I’m not sure,” I shrugged, “but I have to say I’m kinda glad they never made it.”
Duke and I walked the rest of the way to my house together, talking about some of the cases that have walked in since he was last in the office. He left me at my steps and I watched as he walked off into the darkness, whistling that sweet, low pitched tune that had put us together in the first place.
My name is Scarlett Hoode; my friends call me “Red”. In a world where magic and curses reign, an economic recession has hit Fairytale land and it hit it hard. In times like this, we’re all feeling the pinch.
I had the idea for GRIMM & CO EMPLOYMENT AGENCY a few months ago and after putting our business plan together and then having to beg, borrow, and steal (forget I said that last part), I was finally able to sign a lease for a small but cozy space in the baker's building. The methodology behind GRIMM & CO is simple. There are so many talented, unemployed people in Fairytale Land that if we were able to find clients who’s problems can be solved by the skill sets of the individual residents, it would be able to benefit everybody.
I currently have two partners, Duke Wolfe and Nathan Hunter. Needless to say the two boys do not get along so everyday in the office is an adventure, or at least the days when Duke decides to come in to work.
We moved a few desks, several bookshelves and file cabinets into our small but cozy space . . . and waited. When people didn’t line up at our door the way we had expected we knew we had to go out and get their attention. We hired, with the few bucks we had left, a marketing company who were contracted to create a slogan we could use to kickoff the opening of our promising venture.
                                               GRIMM & CO. When Fairy Godmothers Just Aren’t Enough.
Is what they brainstormed and preceded to plaster it on every inch of billboard space, telephone pole, and abandoned building that was scattered throughout Fairytale Land, much to everyone’s chagrin.
I had a lot of very pissed off fairy godmothers there for a while. And they can be a nasty bunch too. Forget pickets lines. I would have loved to have picket lines, rather than the spells, curses, and even the well placed poison apple in the fruit baskets that were dropped off at the office from time to time. Eventually they all settled down and we found a happy medium where we could all work together. Besides, Fairy Godmothers don’t do revenge.


  1. This is an interesting concept of someone running an employment agency for fairy tale characters. The dialogue is snappy. The setting evocative.



    hugged them tightly as it – CUT

    itsnapped dark – CUT

    CHANGE letting the knowing knives dislodge from my wrist TO the knives dislodging from my wrists

    Until I got to this part:

    “Hello Red,” Duke smiled, as he pushed the blade delicately away from his throat.

    I thought the character was male. More details in the first few paragraphs could lead the reader to believe the character at the start of the story is female. Instead of “gather my things” for instance, the character can grab a purse. High heels could click-clack against the cobblestones or the character could be wearing a skirt that is too short for the cold weather.

    but it’s part of his genetics, but not his character – CUT

    “No,” Duke laughed. “I did the ones around the office for effect. It took me nearly all day to rig those up. I didn’t have anything to do with this one.” - This seems like a lot of effort just to create an effect and the purpose for doing so is unclear. It also detracts from the story unless Duke ends up doing this kind of thing all the time. Essentially, the scene is Wolfe telling Red, “I know someone who needs to see you,” which he could have easily done by walking into her office and telling her this since the two work together. The scene as written is more manufactured drama (i.e., drama where drama does not exist) than compelling drama (drama that relates to the fates of the characters). Turning off the lights, furthermore, is reminiscent of Dumbledore turning off the street lamps on Privet Drive at the beginning of the Sorcerer’s Stone. Unless there is some relation or reason to evoke Harry Potter, this should be cut.


    The setup with Red leaving the office late at night when the streets are empty and the lights going out and Red pulling out a knife gives the piece a sinister, crime noir feel. But this doesn’t seem to be where the story is heading. (I would almost imagine Red running a detective agency rather than an employment agency. And why would someone running an employment agency carry a weapon?)

    Another angle could be to begin the story with Red doing her job, i.e., sending a fairytale characters out on a job or interviewing a fairytale character about their job skills. This can be parsed with the backstory of the agency and how Wolfe and Hunter came into the picture.

    If Red and her cohorts send other fairytale characters out on jobs, will the narrative focus on the other fairytale characters and the jobs they end up doing or is the story focused on Red and the running of the office or both? Who or what is the antagonist that gets in the way (or even the inkling of something amiss), causes trouble for Grimm & Co., and challenges the protagonist. Is this story a metaphor for what is happening in the job market today, i.e., will the characters in the story face a similar employment environment many college grads face today? Are older fairytale characters being turned out from their jobs?

    Good luck!

  2. Your title is very intriguing. The writing is flawless.
    The idea is brilliant and I expect a lot of fun reading the rest.
    However, The voices are very mature, not YA.
    The first part sounds like it should be part part two and vice versa. Nothing is actually happening. Someone is lurking in the dark and shutting down the lights, but there is no conflict and no problem and the Mcs do not even seem to be much bothered by that.

    Chapter TWO is much more engaging than ONE. But it starts like the presentation of a TV show/series. It sounds a little artificial and info-dump. It works for me and makes me want to read more, but some people would say that’s a bad way to begin a story.
    I’d like to know what are the sort of cases they have in Fairytale Land. You have the opportunity to hook the reader, but you pass on it. Too bad. (“Duke and I walked the rest of the way to my house together, talking about some of the cases that have walked in since he was last in the office.”)

    I wonder if having a red hair MC is plain cliché or simply a tradition. The debate is open.
    The way Duke repeats “red” in almost all his answers sounds artificial.

    IMO, you could recombine both parts and make something actually happen or have a problem coming up.

    Good luck.


    I would remove “eerily enough”
    “trying to figure out why he’d (would) show up out of nowhere/he’d (had) shown up”