Introducing …”The Dust Bunnies !”

March 28, 2014

Big Eyes in the Skyby_Katy_2010
BIG EYES IN THE SKY ! Katie’s imaginative Cover idea

Meet the Dust Bunnies.
© The Story lines, characters and images are copyright protected and are the property of the author Merlin Fraser and the illustrators he has been working with.

Writers have a habit of picking up things as they wander around, sometimes we are aware of it and react by scribble it down on bits of scrap paper, napkins or on one sad occasion toilet paper; anything so as not to forget the gem of inspiration.

However most of the time these things are subconsciously gathered, sifted and stored away in the recesses of the mind until called upon in some plot or another. Not so the story about which I am about to share with you.

I first came into contact with the expression ‘Dust Bunny’ during a trip to the USA and had to enquire as to what or whom the term referred. Once educated that it was the large bits of Fluff that gathers under beds, on top of wardrobes and other hard to reach places I was doomed. For someone with my warped and vivid imagination that was it, my mind was full of Dust Bunnies, probably always was you might think, but these little rascals had faces and God forbid…Names as well.

Yes I enjoy writing, I have three published fictional Police Crime novels to my credit, an unpublished romantic magical fantasy lurking in a corner somewhere, a slew of magazine articles on all sorts of subjects but a story for Kids !!

I don’t have any kids, not sure I even like the little brutes, I know I used to be one and the thought of being surrounded by a whole group of children like I was quite frankly leaves me in a cold sweat.

Fair enough I wouldn’t hurt them, other than sometimes maybe manoeuvring a supermarket trolley in such a way as to watch them ricochet off it and into a small mountain of Baked Bean Tins….

Or to see the satisfying effects of gravity as they try to Rollerblade over a well placed walking stick….

Or watch them skidding face down on the centre isle of a busy flight as they attempt to run past for the umpteenth time…. But hey, that’s just me having fun.

Could I right an adult story about my Dust Bunny pals ? Not likely, true it may have some appeal as a story Mum or Grand-mum might like to read to the little horrors but not if it gave the little dears nightmares so I though why not ask my friends on Linkedin. For the most part the stories, there are about 10 of them, are complete, but I thought I’d introduce you to some of the main characters and go from there.

In the pictures that follow you have the main Gang, Floater, he’s the first D B you meet in story one, he’s a sort of cheeky Cockney sparrow of a character, full of himself and his own importance and because of it he is always in trouble with the Dust Bunny powers that be.
Floater 3

Then there’s Dingle, he’s green and Irish, brought up in a library and transported to the bedroom where he now resides attached to a teddy Bear, he likes to think himself smart but according to Floater he’s as daft as a brush. Dingle always has his head stuck in a book, sometimes literally.
Dingle2 copy

McFluff, the tartan coloured hairy Highlander lives in the nursery on the model railway, he came packed in with a Christmas present a long time ago and he just wants the train to take him home. McFluff is a bit gruff and doesn’t take too kindly to strangers.
McFluff Mk2

Of course I mustn’t forget Margot, or Dame Margot Flufftain to give you her full title. Margot came from the inside of a pair of pink dancing shoes and longs to be a Ballet dancer. Her desire to create her own dance troupe scares the daylights out of Floater and the others. None of the Dust Bunnies seem to have considered that having no feet might be a slight hindrance to a career in dancing!
Margot 2

There are many more Dust Bunnies to come, but those are the main four, for the most part all Dust Bunnies try to avoid contact with our world at all costs. They call us ‘OOMINS’ and their many enemies are Heather, the feather duster and OOVER, the vacuum cleaner.

As well as using the wind and draughts to move around Dust Bunnies are great friends with the Spiders and they use them for transport as well as cadging the odd lift from a passing mouse.

The main OOMIN character you meet in the story is a young girl called Maggie. Set in the 1950’s, during the school summer holiday Maggie is staying in the country with her grandfather in his big old rambling house. However following a riding accident she suffers a broken leg and is more or less confined to her bedroom and the adjoining nursery.

One night after supper while she is lying on her bed she hears a scuffling sound and peers under the bed to see a spider stuck to a sticky sweet wrapper. It is during her attempts to rescue the spider, whose name is Eric by the way, that she meets Floater for the first time.

What follows is a series of adventures usually involving Floater getting into trouble and Maggie getting him out of it…

Over the years as a writer I have developed a style of telling two stories in one and have done the same here, and I wonder if it’s too confusing as a vehicle for a children’s illustrated story book.

The story starts with a modern day Grandmother looking after her two grand children while their parents take a holiday, probably from them. Trying to keep them entertained during a wet summer she tells them story all about Maggie and the Dust Bunnies.

Each successive story is two in one, first there is what Grandmother and the grandkids get up to, a trip to the Zoo, the Beach, a Birthday party and so on, and then she settles them down for a bed time story about Maggie’s adventures with the Dust Bunnies.

Of course now I’ve written it I don’t know what to do with it, I desperately need an illustrator, I’ve had one or two false starts. I can’t afford to pay to illustrate the whole story, certainly not at the rates I’ve been quoted and have been looking for some sort of collaboration or joint venture or something.
Needless to say I have a thousand other ideas of what and where I can take the Dust Bunnies with or without the OOMINS along. However the overall project is far too big for me to go it alone and I will never go down the Self Publishing route, it’s just simply too big a deal.

I have tested the stories on one or two readers and have been fortunate enough to have a real live grandmother read it to her grandchildren and received a good review from all concerned not to mention one or two ideas for characters and situations which I included in the newer stories.

The idea for a Dust Bunny Wedding came from the kids but I draw the line at trying to explain where little Dust Bunnies comes from. I don’t want to be the author of the first ‘X’ rated Kids book !

I am grateful to Sabrina for helping me to identify what my Dust Bunny friends should look like. Like everything else her work is subject to Copyright Law. ©

Here’s a short Extract from Story One.
(I’ve skipped the story Introduction and gone to the first encounter with a Dust Bunny

One day, after supper and her last visitor had departed she was lying on her bed trying to read a book but it was far too much effort. It was a boring story and was taking far too long to get going and Maggie feeling drowsy started to drift off to sleep.

In the woozy world she found herself she thought she heard movement and hoped it was someone coming to see her, but nothing happened. There was no knock on the door that announced the arrival of the maid, nurse or doctor, but still she was convinced she could hear something. How odd she thought, could it be a mouse ? Although she wasn’t at all happy that it might be.

As she lay there in that half world in between being awake or asleep a gentle breeze wafted in thought the open window and this time she definitely heard something or someone. A tiny, tiny little voice shouted; ‘WHEEEE!’ But as she half opened her eyes she saw nothing. There was nothing to see, the room was exactly as it should be. In fact the only thing she could see moving was a small ball of fluff floating from the top of the wardrobe and heading for the floor. She ignored it and tried going back to sleep.

But still she could hear little scuffling noises; and was it her imagination; but could she hear tiny little voices as well?

Maggie concentrated with all her might not daring to make the slightest noise; little did she realise but she was even holding her breath.

‘Still here… Why is it still here…Can’t get on… Is it still asleep? Where’s that little so an so Floater ? I’ll give him Wheee! When he gets here…could have woke it up….he could.’

It was no good, Maggie just had to let her breath out; but still she listened, all was quiet again so she assumed it was just her imagination or a silly dream. But wait! What’s that? The scuffling noise had returned. What is it…where is it coming from? It seems to be coming from… and with great speed she rolled onto her tummy grabbing the edge of the bedcover as she did so and thrust her head under the bed.

‘Eeeek! OOMINS! Eeeek! There’s Big Eyes in the Sky! Eeeek!’

The voice was still very tiny but with the bedcover out of the way Maggie could hear it more clearly but she still couldn’t make out where it was coming from. Of course it was very gloomy under there.

From what she could see towards the foot of the bed there was a battered old leather suitcase with a broken handle and over there; was the biggest chamber pot Maggie had ever seen in her entire life. Her imagination ran riot; with a giggle she tried to imagine the size of the bottom that would fit such a monster pot. She even though that if she was silly enough to try she would end up in it; not on it and in her mind’s eye she could see herself stuck inside the enormous pot.
Her thoughts were brought quickly back to earth when suddenly she saw where the little scuffling noise was coming from. To the right of that big chamber pot there was a small piece of paper and on the paper was a spider. Maggie recoiled back to the surface; ‘Yuk! Spiders. Silly girl ! It was a spider, not spiders and it was only a very small one; far more scared of you I’ll bet, so what; it is still a spider.’

However, by now her curiosity had been aroused and so she ventured another look under the bed. As her eyes adjusted once more to the poor light under there she could see that the little spider wasn’t on the paper at all; it seemed to be pushing it away from her with its tiny little feet. Nothing else was moving.
Returning to the top of the bed once more; how odd, she thought. ‘Where on earth would a spider be taking that piece of paper?’ Then in a flash it dawned on her; ‘Oh my! The poor thing; it’s not pushing the paper; it’s stuck to it. That’s a wrapper from one of the lollipops the doctor gave me. They’re very sticky, Oh Dear!’

Spinning round on her bed she grabbed the bedcover from the other side and pulled it up as she dived once more underneath.”

‘Eeeek! The Big Eyes Is Back! Eeeek!’

Maggie, summoning all her bravery at once stretched out her hand and caught hold of the sticky wrapper and pulled it towards her; and sure enough the little spider came as well. ‘Not all that brave’ she thought, ‘I’m only touching the wrapper so far. I still have to think of a way of getting the spider off the wrapper; without actually touching it Yuk!’

She didn’t want to hurt the little spider, so trying to pull it off the paper didn’t seem too good an idea. ‘Now; let me see what I’ve got here.’ She looked around the bedside table to see what was there. There was a glass of stale homemade lemonade that was far too bitter to drink, a small tin of talcum powder, a hair brush, comb and a recent postcard from her mother and a small box of tissues.

‘There’s not much to use there; unless…Unless ! I use the postcard to push the spider off the wrapper. But if I do that then the wrapper will stick to my postcard and ruin it. But if I sprinkle a little talcum powder onto the wrapper first, it won’t be so sticky; and then it won’t stick to my postcard…Brilliant !’

I don’t think that Maggie realised that all this time she had been speaking out loud and she was quite startled when this tiny little voice said.

‘You might want to cover his eyes.’

‘What? Who said that? Cover whose eyes?’

‘Eric’s eyes; I mean he does have eight of them you know. Oh yeah! I nearly forgot that stuff makes him sneeze.’

This was getting silly now. Here she was desperately trying to save the life of a spider; whose name was Eric; apparently; and he was allergic to talcum powder, and all this information was coming from… where exactly ?

Maggie thought for a second and then said, ‘OK! Let’s deal with one problem at a time shall we ?’ So first she made a little cover out of a piece of tissue paper to protect Eric as best she could and then she sprinkled the talcum powder all over the wrapper.

Of course she got far more powder out of the tin than she needed or wanted and without thinking she blew away the surplus powder with a mighty blow.
Away went the powder and the piece of tissue protecting Eric and in the cloud that was left behind she could hear a series of tiny sneezes coming from Eric’s direction. However at the same time there were a couple of little sneezes from a completely different direction as well.

‘Sorry! Forgot to say; It makes me sneeze as well.’

Ignoring all this Maggie concentrated upon the job in hand. Taking the postcard in one hand she held the wrapper tightly under the fingers of her other hand and she pushed ever-so gently against Eric’s little feet. For a moment it didn’t look as if it was going to work, and she was on the brink of thinking that poor Eric would have to spend the rest of his life pushing this silly wrapper all over the place. But then; first one leg and then the other came free and with the effort Eric fell over backwards and rolled into a tight little ball and stayed there quite still.

‘Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I’ve killed him; he’s dead and it’s all my silly fault.’

‘E’s alright; the big Wuzz! .Just winded that’s all, what with you pushin’ and him pullin’; he fell over. Oh Yeah! He says thank you by the way.’

‘Please tell him he’s very welcome, I’m sure. Now! If you be so kind as to tell me to whom I am speaking it would solve a little mystery for me.’

‘Oh I say how posh; to whom, no less! Well it is to I; to whom you are speakin’.’

‘Where are you, who are you, why can’t I see you?’ The questions came tumbling from her lips. In the mean time she noticed that Eric was no longer curled up in a ball and seemed to be examining his two front legs.

‘Saw me clear enough when I jumped off the wardrobe just now. It’s me; Floater! Floater by name; Floater by nature, it’s a sort of job really. Not a very good one mind you but it is kinda fun; sometimes; unless you get sucked out of the window that is. Happened to me once had to wait for some of Eric’s outside pals to find me and bring me back inside.’

Maggie sighed, ‘this is all very interesting; but I still can’t see you !’

‘Down here! No! Over a bit; Nah! More this way. Careful with that peg leg of yours !’

‘It’s not a peg leg, it’s a plaster cast; my real leg is inside.’

‘Why ?’

‘Why what?’

‘Why is you leg inside a whatyamacallit, thingy ?’

‘Because I broke it; falling off a horse’

‘Oh! I see ! What’s a horse ? And while you’re at it why did you want to fall off it; whatever IT is?’

I didn’t want to fall off, some boys frightened my horse Sally and she reared up and; well I wasn’t ready for her to do that and…and I fell off.’

‘Fair enough, so what’s a horse ?’

‘Look! Whoever you are; I’m not carrying on with this very silly conversation until I can see you face to face. So come out from wherever you are and face me.’

‘I done told you; I’m down here; by your foot!’

Maggie moved her good leg a couple of inches.

‘No not that one, the other one; with the thingy on it, and I told you; me name’s Floater.’

She looked and looked again at her foot but couldn’t see anyone. The only thing close to her was a tiny ball of fluff lying on the rug. But as she looked closer she was amazed to see it wink at her. ‘Well I’ll be…. Floater ?’

‘Hat your service, me Lady!’

And if asked Maggie would have sworn that the little ball of fluff actually bowed to her. ‘This is ridiculous…I’m speaking to a ball of fluff.’

‘Nah you ain’t; told you me name’s Floater. I think I had an Aunty Fluff; once but Heather got her long time ago ?’

Maggie was getting a little impatient now; ‘be that as it may; what I’m trying to say is you are not at all like me and I’m not quite sure I should be talking to you at all; I mean after all..’

‘Please yourself. But If it hadn’t been for me you’d have pulled Eric’s legs off by now and him with a web full of kids to look after. But, if you don’t want to talk to me then I’ll be off. Of course you’re quite right, we’re not supposed to talk to OOMINS anyway; so you’re doin’ me a favour really. Don’t suppose you give me a push could you ? Or better still do what ya did just before you made Eric sneeze.’

‘What did I do? I can’t remember. I think all I did was blow the powder away.’

‘That’s it; Blow! Just give us a blow, help me on me way; sort to speak.’

Maggie pursed her lips drew in her breath and pointing in Floater’s direction she blew with all her might.

Floater full of excitement went ‘WHEE!’ All over again and when he landed he said; ‘Wow! That was great but actually I live under the bed, and now; well now I’m over here by the window, and I don’t know if I told you this but; I’m not too fond of windows . So if you could see your way clear to givin’ me a blow in the right direction; I would be much obliged.’

Maggie hobbled over to the window and picked Floater up, ‘Why don’t I just carry you over and pop you under the bed; will that do ?’

‘Fair enough, not so much fun; but it’ll do to be goin’ on with. Many thanks; I’m sure.’

Maggie lifted the covers on the bed and placed Floater down on the floor. ‘Tell me she said, are there any more; like you I mean ? You called us OOMINS! I assumed you mean people like me?’

‘Nah! There’s nobody like me, I’m a one off you might say, but if you mean are there more Dust Bunnies around then yes hundreds of us. See Ya !’

Maggie called after him, ‘See You later. Will you come back and talk to me tomorrow ?’

Floater replied, ‘Well that all depends dun it ?’

‘Upon what; exactly ?’

‘Well for starters where I am at the time, what I’m doin’ and if I can get a lift.’

‘A lift ? Maggie asked.’

‘Correct; I mean the spiders are pretty obliging most of the time especially if they’re goin’ that way in the first place but ya can’t rely on them. Then there’s the winds, under the doors, through the windows, a guy gets blown all over the place. Never know where I might end up, but leave it with me and I’ll see what I kin do. I mean well Eric owes you a favour doesn’t he? I mean to say; I won’t tell him it was your sticky paper he got stuck on, if you don’t, that is.’

And so he was gone. Maggie lay back on her bed thinking of Dust Bunnies and fell fast asleep.”


9 Responses to “Introducing …”The Dust Bunnies !””

  1. This is great Merlin. As an aside I think the dust bunnies may be hiding in my navel.

  2. merlinfraser Says:

    Stop exaggerating about the size of your navel Laurie, it’s probably only one in there !

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Raani York Says:

    I just LOVE this post, Merlin!!
    (And of course I love the dust bunnies. :-))
    I figure I found some of them under my bed – and in my lowest drawer. 😉
    ((But not in my navel, thank God!)) LOOOOL

  4. merlinfraser Says:

    Hi Raani, Can I say I think you are very brave… I am not sure that I would ever admit to finding Dust Bunnies in my Drawers ! ( You were aware that that is what we Brits refer to as Granny Bloomers?)

    Do you name your Dust Bunnies ? There are more stories to come when you get to meet the Dotty Twins, Wizzy the Wizard, Major Fluffington -Smythe III and Ryan the troublesome King of the Leprechauns.

    • Raani York Says:

      Hi Merlin,
      There’s nothing to feel ashamed of. See, when you’ve got three kitties, you will find dust bunnies at the most impossible places – and yes, even in your drawers and shelves – in your shoes, under the desk and wherever else… it just happens… So far I haven’t named them (yet)… LOL
      Now I’m curious about the next stories. 🙂

  5. merlinfraser Says:

    Hi Raani, My problem is that in a market saturated with cheap imported children’s books I am not having much luck finding a way to publish these stories.

    They do need illustrating, more expense, or digitizing into an

    The silly thing is that all who have read the stories, young and old seem to enjoy them.

    It is frustrating that’s fer sure.

  6. littledinker Says:

    Brilliant Merlin. I’m not surprised everyone likes these stories, they’re great. Just as a children’s book should be, in my opinion.
    Alas, most children’s publishers won’t agree!
    The story line would probably be for the younger age group; perhaps up to 8yrs, therefore the word count has to be less and cutting anything out of these fantastic stories would be like cutting your arm off! They have to be 5000 words or less.
    I ventured to send my Dinker stories to a few publishers; they all liked them, all said they had merit, but none took them, why? Because of the reason given above. Too many words for the perceived age group, according to them!
    Unfortunately I had to agree; the age group I was writing for, 7-10yrs, are not into this type of imaginary, sadly, and want stuff I’m not prepared to write. So I self published and loved the whole process. Not POD, but all done here and at a local printers.
    I’m not into marketing; feel like a tiny drip in a massive ocean and, yes, you’re right, there’s so many children’s books your voice will be lost. BUT, I’m very happy to say, an international company picked up on my books and are developing a 3D children’s animated TV series based on them, and this is where I could see your Dust Bunnies going; animation.
    Why don’t you approach some children’s animators/TV companies, even film, and see if one will pick it up and develop it, I think that would be awesome.
    Let me know what you think.

    • merlinfraser Says:

      Hi Dee,

      Thank you for your thoughts and comments, especially your input about children, you see I don’t have any of my own and had to borrow them from others. I have noticed that the most positive comments come from parents, grandparents who read stories to their children, these kids seem to go on become readers themselves.

      As for self publishing, because I want my stories to be illustrated it would be horrendously expensive to produce, I hear and see what you are saying about age ranges and number of words, not sure I want to go down that route and might go down the animator route, I have been told there is a certain humour in my stories that might appeal to both young and old alike.
      Not sure about Children’s TV thought… I think that boat has already sailed away, now if I had the brains to get into Interactive E Books and Apps…. I think that’s the future but as I say way out of my area of expertise. I think what it needs is a collaborative group, probably youngsters, with the computer skills and writers like us to supply the imagination.

  7. […] This was in follow up to a previous BLOG of mine where I introduced my Dust Bunny stories for children : […]

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