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Stories

Never Say Neverland Again

A contest was recently held to find someone to write the official “Peter Pan” sequel. Though author Geraldine McCaughrean was chosen from hundreds of candidates, James Finn Garner shares with us the openings from a number of rejected applications.

Children’s author Geraldine McCaughrean has been chosen to write the official sequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” the London hospital that holds the copyright to the classic work said Sunday.
—The Associated Press, March 13, 2005
Dear Contest Organizers:

Enclosed please find my submission for your competition. I think I’m uniquely qualified to write the sequel to this beloved tale, as I have seen every stage and screen adaptation of Mr. Barrie’s story, including the 1987 vampire-biker classic The Lost Boys, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Haim.



Dear Contest Organizers:

Enclosed please find my synopsis and sample chapters. If it surprises you that I’ve relocated the Darling family to a failed East African coffee plantation, then allow me to briefly educate you on the cruelties of early 20th-century British colonialism.



Dear Contest Organizers:

Peter Pan. Wendy. Captain Hook. Tinkerbell. These are immortal names in children’s literature. Now we can add another immortal name to the list: Jesus.



Kindly Contest Persons:

Do you believe in fairies? Do you? Then you’ll be as excited as I was to learn that my new house is absolutely packed with fairies, gremlins, and pixies of all sorts, many of whom have literary ambitions.



Dear Sir or Madam:

I have enclosed my summary and five sample chapters. Many is the time I’ve thought to myself, “Hating Mr. Barrie for stealing my father’s original idea is an unproductive use of time. Perhaps someday there will be a contest organized for a sequel to the book, and when I win it, revenge will be all the sweeter.”



Dear Contest Organizers:

When I heard about your competition, I thought to myself, “What, I could win a book contract by writing about my ex-husband?”



Dear Sirs:

Let me start by enumerating what I see are the original book’s fatal flaws, which prevented it from reaching a wider audience.



Dear Contest Homeys:

Is it crazy to recast Peter Pan in the world of hip-hop music? Only if you don’t care about establishing his street cred with today’s audience.



Dear Contest Organizers:

I was surprised to hear that you were looking for writers to craft a sequel to J.M. Barrie’s story. I recently saw Mr. Barrie at the movies, and he seemed quite well. I do hope he hasn’t taken ill.



Dear Contest Judges:

My sample chapters and plot synopsis are enclosed. But before we proceed, I’d like to inquire whether the arrangement for shared royalties with the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children will apply to this book as it does to the original, because in all candor, I don’t know any sick children myself.



Dear Contest Organizers:

Thank you for arranging this competition. It is indeed a challenge to recreate Barrie’s magical storytelling and lead his beloved characters into new adventures. That’s why I’m sending you my novel about an acclaimed matador turned international spy instead.



Dear Contest Organizers:

It is with great humility and gratitude that I submit my completed manuscript for the sequel to J.M. Barrie’s masterpiece, entitled Wendy Shrugged. I apologize in advance for the size of the box.



Dear Contest Organizers:

Do you believe in the magic of childhood and boys who never grow up? Then listen to my tale of a free-spirited pop star who is completely innocent of the horrid accusations made against him.

James Finn Garner is the author of, among other things, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, which was recently translated into Farsi. This and other curiosities can be found, eponymously enough, at jamesfinngarner.com. More by James Finn Garner