Salem teacher publishes terrier-ifying children’s book


David Krzisnik

 Scout Manchester: Ghost Terrier of England: Chillblains Castle by A.G. Powell takes readers through a terrier-ifying adventure as Scout, a three-legged dog, attempts to solve the haunting of Chillblains Castle. 

A.G. Powell is the pseudonym for Salem High School teacher David Krzisnik, who has mainly taught courses entitled Science Fiction, English 10 and Elements of Fiction. He published this first book on August 19, 2021. 

Krzisnik’s pseudonym is largely based on important people in his past.

“The A.G. came from both of my grandfathers’ names. The A is [for] Anton and G is for Genore, who was an italian immigrant, my mother’s father, so I figured [it was a] nice little salute to them,’ said Krzisnik. “Powell is the last name of an old actor of the golden age of Hollywood, and I always liked his movies, so I figured it’s a lot easier than Krzisnik. It’s nice to have a little bit of anonymity when I’m writing to not write under my own name,” Krzisnik said.

Krzisnik sets his sights for the book to become a series.

Scout Manchester stands excited outside Chillblains Castle.

“I would like it to be a series. I already have ideas and I would love it very much to be a series with Scout not only investigating haunted locations in England. I really planned it to be where she goes to other places around the world and gets to be this renowned ghost hunter on an international level,” Krzisnik said.

The book takes place mainly at Chillblains Castle, a location Krzisnik invented. However, there was inspiration from real life.

“Chillblains Castle is my own creation, but the word Chillblains is actually something people would get back in the olden days in England. It was almost like a sore cold,” Krzisnik said.

Photographs taken during a vacation during a trip to England became a basis for the cover of the book.

“The castle on the cover of the book is based on a ruined castle that we visited in the Welsh countryside. My friend who did the graphic art actually kind of brought it [the castle] back to its glory days because I gave him a picture of it in ruins. It’s based on a castle called Penhow Castle,” Krzisnik said.

Not only were locations in the book based on existing places in real life, but so were some of the main characters. 

Scout is based on Krzisnik’s dog with the same name. Krzisnik noted that Scout in real life does not have three legs; that was something he added on because he wanted there to be something a bit more distinctive about Scout.

Scout, dog companion of Salem teacher David Krzisnik.

“I’ve worked with kids who have physical challenges before, and I thought that would be a nice salute to that,” Krzisnik said.

Duncan, a main supporting character in the book, is also based on one of Krzisnik’s former dog companions named Penhow. 

“They [Scout and Penhow] actually did coexist as brother and sister for a while. [Penhow] was older and wiser and would often have to check on and growl at Scout so that’s where I kind of got their little odd couple banter that you see throughout the book,” Krzisnik said. 

Krzisnik was in and out of the process of writing “Chillblains Castle” for several years before self-publishing the book.

“The book took about nine years. I like to jokingly say it was about five to six because I had twins at the time and that was a lot of work and took away from my time for writing. A lot of revisions and a lot of drafts over nine years and some major changes,” Krzisnik said.

One thing in particular stuck with Krzisnik for inspiration to write this book. 

“They say to ‘write what you know,’”  Krzisnik said. 

For kids who enjoy adventure, thrills, and of course, dogs, Scout Manchester: Ghost Terrier of England: Chillblains Castle is available on websites such as Amazon for purchase.