In this sweeping and inventive debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and Tim Burton, a prodigal inventor flees his home to find his destiny.
In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.
Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.
Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.
The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson CHAPTER 1 • • • WALTER MORTINSON Walter” is no kind of name for a boy. “Wally” perhaps, but it’s well known that Wallys don’t normally become Walters until they sprout their first ear hairs. No, “Walter” is a name for a man—one with a woolly walrus mustache that tickles his buck teeth, stained from cigars, whiskey, spinach, and whatever other hogwash adults waste their time on. “Walter” is the name of a man who harrumphs instead of saying hello, a man who is big, gray, and terribly ordinary. So it’s rather an odd happenstance that our Walter was the exact opposite of all of these things.
Walter Mortinson was undoubtedly a boy. His wiry pipe-cleaner frame was unique to a twelve-year-old, and his wide brown eyes were still too big for his round face, pillowed with baby fat. But Walter, as many boys and girls are, was much cleverer than a man.
His brain wasn’t hardened with age, bloated with useless worries about expenses, timeliness, and the desire to eat leafy green things. No, Walter’s brain was still wonderfully soft and squishable. This was convenient, as it allowed Walter to squeeze the entire universe—all of her stars and possibilities—between his ears. Most Walters cannot manage such feats, but this Walter, Walter Mortinson, could, which is important because he had vast things to think about: Walter was an inventor.
Odd ideas occurred to him. He imagined beasts that didn’t exist and contraptions that could do things that hadn’t yet been done. Why, just a week before, he had wondered if fingernail clippings could be turned into tiny scissors to trim toe hairs, and the answer is yes, with a strong enough magnifying glass and springy enough toe hairs. While many people have such thoughts, Walter had the tenacity and the nimble fingers to bring his ideas to life.
On this morning he was doing just that. He had awoken far earlier than the birds (or the worms, for that matter) and had gotten to work on his newest idea. It had required him to sneak into the neighbor’s yard early that morning and dig something up, but no matter. They hadn’t been using it anyway.
For hours he sat hunched over his prize, its once-white form marred by dirt and soot, his walnut knuckles twisting their way skillfully around it. Walter could see the final product in his mind and had nearly achieved it. It was show-and-tell day. He just had to finish his project; he would stay nose-to-his-desk until then.
And while Walter was correct—he would complete his task—this wouldn’t happen until five minutes after the school bell had rung, which meant Walter would be late. Again.
Quinn Sosna-Spear was named a California Young Playwright at seventeen and went on to study at the University of Southern California. She has since written books, films, and virtual reality projects. The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson, her debut novel, was inspired by the untimely death of her own mother. Quinn hopes to share with all readers—particularly those struggling with loss—the humor, poignancy, and adventure in such things…as dreary and impossible as they may seem.