Cal Everett’s New Chapter: Musician Loudoun Keeps Goosebumps Alive With “Halloween Is Coming!” “
Loudoun music lovers know Cal Everett as a talented singer / songwriter with a passion for pop. But at 66, Everett has opened a new chapter in his creative life: he’s now an author of children’s books with a mission to share the fun and dread of his favorite vacation.
Everett’s illustrated book “Halloween Is Coming!” came out in August, just in time for fall fun. He will share it with Loudoun for the first time with a First Friday reading at the Very Virginia store in downtown Leesburg on October 1 and a series of family readings is scheduled at area libraries throughout the month.
“Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It’s my time of year, ”Everett said. “I grew up in the heyday of black and white monster movies on television. … I still remember my first Frankenstein costume when I was 8 years old. I was addicted for the rest of my life.
Everett says he’s long been a proponent of keeping the holidays spooky, even in the late ’80s and early’ 90s when well-meaning parents attempted to “denigrate” Halloween. Everett and his wife recently moved into a condo in Leesburg, but for decades their house in Sterling has been one of the spookiest homes in the neighborhood on Candy Nights, drawing kids from kindergarten through high school.
The fun and festive rhymes of “Halloween Is Coming!” had their origins in a spoken poem that Everett created over ten years ago for his own family. The verses started coming during his daily errands, as did many of his songs.
“It’s very lyrical, a lot more primary because of the way I wanted it to rhyme,” he said. “But I thought about it like I was writing a song.”
Everett says he didn’t even write the verses for years but recited them from memory for his wife and three grown children. The poem began as a celebration of the fall season: shorter days, a chill in the air, the call of crows, accelerating to the excitement and dread of Halloween.
“It goes from things that mark the start of fall until Halloween, so it’s like a building process,” Everett said.
Worms remained a family tradition until Everett’s son, then living in New York City, hooked up with a literary agent who loved the idea of a rhyming Halloween book for kids.
“He said, ‘You should probably write it down and send it to me,'” Everett said.
Within months, Everett struck a deal with Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, a leading children’s book publisher. “Halloween is coming!” released this summer in the US and internationally.
The publishing deal involved some changes to the verses Everett had in mind for so long. His early verses were a bit scarier, with headless horsemen and more supernatural elements. But its publisher wanted to target a younger population. But Everett said he’s managed to keep the spirit of the job alive, even with a few tweaks.
“I want it to be a little scary. I don’t want Halloween to become something that isn’t scary, ”he said. “This isn’t the book I originally wrote, but they were flexible enough to allow me to replace the things I deleted.”
The book is illustrated by European artist Lenny Wen, whose charming drawings, done by Everett, follow a brother and sister through the fall season of hay walks and school parades accompanied by their favorite old school monsters.
“The excitement builds for the kids from early fall through October until it’s finally candy or spell night,” Everett said.
Everett tested the book with his two young grandchildren and recently shared it with a class of first graders in Loudoun. Everett has been a substitute teacher in Loudoun since retiring from his career running a family restaurant chain in the DC area a few years ago. He also continues to sing and write music and has said he has performed like crazy for the past nine months since Loudoun’s music scene rebounded from COVID. Everett is a member of the popular classic rock band Calgary with local favorites Gary Smallwood and Todd Wright and also performs with the tribute band Mostly Fab Beatles.
“This year I have played more than five years,” he said. “I’ve made up my mind as long as I can do it, I should probably do it”
He has said the opportunity to write a children’s book is “out of the blue”, but he rolls with it and has a blast.
“I hadn’t planned that at all. It may be one-off, it may be a flash in the pan, but for me, it’s a gift. … If it is only read every year by my grandchildren, it is a victory for me.
Meanwhile, Everett is planning a series based on classic cinematic monsters with opening titles like “No Room For Frankenstein,” “Where Wolves Are Werewolves” and “Does Dracula Wash the Dishes? “
“I was raised with the universal monster thing, and it was one of my wishes not to let that go. The things that started horror movies, I don’t want them to go away from the next generation and the next generation.
“Halloween is coming! By Cal Everett is recommended for young readers ages 4 to 8 and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and WalMart. Everett will read the book on Friday, October 1 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Very Virginia, 16 S. King St. in Leesburg. Loudoun County Public Library readings are scheduled for Sunday, October 17 at 2 p.m. at the Rust Library, Wednesday, October 20 at 10 a.m. at the Lovettsville Library and Monday, October 25 at 4 p.m. at the Library of Ashburn. Books will be available for sale at all events.