Calico Kids by Todd Downing @todddo

About the Book

Calico Kids

Calico Kids

Summer, 1982. When two local teens go missing from the riverside town of Calico, Oregon, a middle school nerd steeped in wild conspiracy theories steps in to investigate.

With a posse consisting of a busboy, a delinquent, an L.A. transplant, and a cheerleader, A.J. sets out to prove that a Satanic cult is behind the disappearances, all while dodging the local sheriff, high school bullies, and a deputy drunk on authority.

But instead of a dark cult, the group encounters a legion of ghosts, mysterious government agents, alien technology, and an interdimensional crisis of literally earth-shattering proportions.

From the author of the Airship Daedalus pulp adventure book series, and adapted from his short story, comes a love letter to retro-’80s science fiction and horror, in the vein of Stranger Things and The Babysitter. Equal parts John Hughes, Stephen King and Steven Spielberg, Calico Kids is a coming-of-age story set in a rural town full of impossible adventures.

About the Author

Todd Downing is the primary author and designer of over fifty roleplaying titles, including Arrowflight, RADZ, Airship Daedalus, and the official Red Dwarf RPG for Deep7 Press. He has written for stage, screen, comics, audiodrama, short-form and long-form, interactive and narrative, in a career spanning three decades.

A fixture in the Seattle indie film community, Downing is the co-creator of the superhero-comedy webseries The Collectibles, and the screenwriter behind The Parish and Ordinary Angels (which he also directed).

His first feature film, a supernatural thriller entitled Project, was included in a PBS young directors series in 1986. While recording alternative music for Epithet Records as a founding member of And Tears Fell, he amassed somewhere between a bachelor’s and master’s degree worth of college credits (including a two-year advanced animation program) without graduating—instead moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle in a beat-up Isuzu truck with his late wife and two cats as part of the artist migration of the early ’90s. He immediately began writing in earnest, cranking out both short stories and novels, selling the former to various literary magazines and having one of the latter optioned by Warner Books.

In a twelve-year relationship with a West Seattle arts charity, Downing mentored young performers and provided graphic and production design expertise, as well as directing several shows during his tenure. He also provided production design for the low-budget horror film Hunting Grounds and the fantasy-comedy webseries JourneyQuest season 3.

The father of two adult children, Downing spent several years as a concept artist and art director in the videogame industry, working on games such as Spider – The Videogame for the Playstation, Allegiance and Casino Empire for the PC, among others.

Downing currently creates book covers and marketing art for fellow authors, filmmakers and corporate clients, and has done voiceover work for videogames, animation, Microsoft industrial videos and the Seattle Seahawks Pro Shop. Most recently he has dipped his toe in the audiobook arena, narrating his own sci-fi/horror anthology Primordial Soup Kitchen and his retro ’80s sci-fi mystery Calico Kids.

Widowed to cancer in 2005, Downing remarried in 2009 and currently enjoys an empty nest in Port Orchard, Washington, with his wife and a flock of unruly chickens.

Qn 1: Can you tell us more about your book, Calico Kids, What is it about?

Calico Kids is a love letter to growing up as an unsupervised latchkey kid in the early 1980s, and the music and media we were consuming. On the surface, it’s a sci-fi horror adventure in the vein of Stranger Things, E.T. or The Goonies, but at its core, it’s about a group of friends surviving a weird and challenging year, and the bonds they forge with each other.

Qn 2: Who do you think would be interested in this book, Calico Kids, is it directed at any particular market?

Calico Kids is a departure from my main 1920s retro pulp adventure series, to be sure. It’s Young Adult friendly, certainly for any reader teen and older. Gen Xers might appreciate the music and media references included in the setting, as would fans of retro ’80s media. My readers tend to be 20s-60s, an even male/female split, predominantly from US, Canada and UK, but fans in other English-speaking markets like Australia and India have been popping up recently.

Qn 3: Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors, which are your favourite and why?

I cut my teeth on the humanist sci-fi of Ray Bradbury and the pulps of Burroughs and Robeson. I love the historical fiction of Morgan Llywelyn, the trailblazing gothic romance of Mary Shelley, the frenetic action of the late John Steakley, and the psychological horror of Stephen King.

Qn 4: What guidance would you offer to someone new, or trying to enhance their writing?

As Terry Brooks once wrote in my first edition hardcover of Wizard at Large, “Write! Right?”
Just keep doing it. Read a lot, and write a lot. Writing is exercising a creative muscle.

Qn 5: Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?

I have an author website at, where readers can get a free short story for signing up on my mailing list.

Twitter – @todddo
Facebook –
Instagram – todddowningofficial

(I’ve been around online long enough that none of my social media handles match.)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.