ANGOLA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Kevin Donovan is a busy man, especially this time of year. He’s the mastermind behind one of western New York’s most popular autumn attractions, Everhaunt Haunted House. And now, he can add “author” to his list of accomplishments.
In fact, his recently released book, “Shine Bright Little Fright: Kindness and Acceptance For All,” was made especially for kids. The inventor of a spooky place like Everhaunt might not be your first guess for ‘children’s book author,’ but when you get to know Donovan, you’ll see the big heart behind all the scary masks.
The idea behind Everhaunt started with a Halloween party Donovan threw at his house to help a friend with cancer. The launch of Everhaunt eventually followed, becoming a nationally renowned Halloween season destination.
Over the past decade, Donovan and his Everhaunt team, most of whom have been there since day one, have continued lending a hand to those in need. Some of the organizations they’ve partnered with include Team Roswell, ConnectLife and People Inc.
With his new book, Donovan is showing kids they can make a difference, too. “Shine Bright Little Fright” follows the tale of Fright, a young witch who’s nervous about her first day at school. But as the day goes on, Fright sees every opportunity to help her classmates with their insecurities and assure them that their unique attributes are special.
Fright is based on someone very special to Donovan.
“When my daughter was born, my life changed,” the opening of the book reads. “Seeing the world through her eyes of pure love and kindness has been my inspiration.”
The other characters in “Shine Bright Little Fright” are based on the monsters one would encounter on a walk through Everhaunt. With praise for his dedicated team, Donovan says those who don the makeup, fake blood and other additions are the ones who bring the characters to life — characters that are popular among adults and children, alike.
“If you know Everhaunt, we push our characters big-time,” Donovan said. “Like, Hatchet Nana is extremely popular. When she walks through the grocery store in Angola, people know her when she doesn’t have her makeup on.”
Hatchet Nana (as Hatchet Mini) and Doc Roseywood are just a couple of the real-life Everhaunt characters who made their children’s book debut this year. The latter happens to be a popular one among kids.
“He’s like, the nice crazy doctor who kids love,” Donovan said, speaking of some of the more family-oriented events Everhaunt puts on.
Writing a children’s book has been in the back of Donovan’s mind for quite some time, and as a parent, he knows the challenges kids face growing up, whether it be making new friends or handling bullies.
“The more and more I looked into it, the more and more I just realized, I think we can do something that’s really good,” Donovan said.
The book officially launched this past weekend, and Donovan says they sold a bunch. A member of The Haunted Attraction Association board, Donovan says “Shine Bright Little Fright” is being sold at 10 haunted houses across the country.
Although the book has reached a scale this large, for Donovan, it’s not something he’s doing for profit. In fact, he plans to use the money to just buy more books.
“I will not make a dime off of this,” Donovan says.
The book has been donated to libraries across western New York, and Donovan is willing to send a copy out to any classroom or daycare that wants one. He’ll even pay the shipping costs.
It might not be the last book penned by Donovan either. With characters as popular as Everhaunt’s, who says they need to stay bound to one set of pages?
“Shine Bright Little Fright” is available at Everhaunt (144 Lake St., Angola), with plans to make it available for online purchase once the season’s over.