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When his dad is out of town and his mom gets in a serious accident, 16-year-old Jake’s life comes to a screaming halt. His Uncle Mark, a horror writer, is the only adult nearby to care for him and his little sister, and Jake begrudgingly agrees to spend the night at his uncle’s house to protect her. Across from his uncle’s home is a huge, abandoned toy factory, one that Jake disregards until he sees a creepy doll skulking around on its own. He sees the doll harassing his sister and she chases it to the old building. Jake pursues them inside the factory, accidentally passing through the Amazing Imagination Machine, bringing his greatest nightmare to life. Jake is forced to find a way to stop his own creation and all the monsters spawned from the machine before they can kill him, discovering some dark secrets that have been hidden in his family tree along the way.

Author Bailey Day sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her debut young adult thriller, THE AMAZING IMAGINATION MACHINE:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

Character took shape first, but not of my protagonist. In fact, I would say the hero of this story is the last character I thought of; my antagonist definitely came first. I began shaping an evil, toy-like man who had nothing on his mind but having infinite power over everything he came across, which led me to developing his eclectic army of evil toys. Once I knew my antagonist’s motivation, it was easier for me to plot out a storyline, develop a setting, and design protagonists capable of stopping him.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I have always been attracted to young adult thrillers, solely because I find the stories in that genre some of the most creative I have ever read. I love it when a book surprises me; when I say, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” I find with a lot of books I read I accidentally predict what is going to happen, but with young adult thrillers I’m often blindsided by the events and the author takes me away on a journey. That is why I wanted to contribute to this genre as well; to give readers a fun, surprising story.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

The biggest challenge I faced in this journey was the fact that I originally wrote my story as a middle grade adventure, but when I went to the PNWA Conference, the editors I wanted only took young adult thrillers. I stretched the truth and pitched this book to them, and to my surprise, they actually took my story. I spent months reworking this novel until it was the correct genre, which meant adding 30,000 words and making every single character older. While that was a challenge, the opportunity to work with Suspense Publishing and their lovely staff has been a great blessing and made the entire process worth it.


Bailey Day’s story writing began when she was insulted by a peer in fourth grade, who told her she was only able to write “girly” stuff. As if a gauntlet had been thrown, that very same day she started writing about monsters and demons and has since filled hundreds of journals with incredible stories and ideas. Bailey has been working on her debut, The Amazing Imagination Machine, for two years, starting out as a middle grade adventure and, after serious rewrites, coming to fruition as a Young Adult Thriller. Bailey lives in Washington State with her parents, her older brother, and her dog, Smoochy.

To learn more about Bailey, please visit her website.


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