Sunday, May 20, 2012

Carly: the Evil Lunch Lady

* * * Here's Ardyth! * * *

A SCHOOL FOR VILLAINS (Dark Lord Academy Book 1)
Danny isn’t much for being evil, but when bad is good, how does someone get expelled from villain school?

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Thirteen-year-old Danny is astounded when his father decides to send him to Dark Lord Academy to learn to be a villain. Pa claims it will make him stand out and fulfill his own lost childhood dreams. Being evil doesn’t appeal to Danny, but he’s always been a good and obedient son, so he goes.

Dark Lord Academy’s not just unappealing, it’s downright terrible. His advisor dyes Danny’s blond hair black and changes his name to the unpronounceable Zxygrth. He can’t get the hang of maniacal laughter, his second-in-command servant is a puke-colored monkey, and the cafeteria lady enjoys serving stewed cockroaches or fried bat wings. A run in with a hero results in hate mail and he gets caught up in a rivalry with the school bully. The only way for Danny to stay alive is to find his inner villain.

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Carly, the Evil Cafeteria Lady

In writing “A School for Villains” one my most challenging considerations was the food. How do you make cafeteria food evil when it already is?

Okay, so not all cafeterias are evil, but let’s face it, a good many of them do seem to be. Cold and lumpy food, or the only thing they’re serving is something you hate. In considering what villains eat, I had some easy answers (eye of newt and toe of frog anyone?) but needed to dream up the evil woman behind the madness, who enjoys making the most disgusting foods possible. From spider pancakes to stuffed cockroaches, she delights in horrifying the students of Dark Lord Academy with their next meal.

This leaves newcomer Danny (renamed Zixy by his advisor) stumped with what to say when served up a plate of food. Do you compliment the chief by telling her it’s awful? Or say it looks delicious? Is eating it or not eating it the way to show it’s the evilest of dishes? Carly, built like a sumo wrestler and always wielding her wooden spoon like a weapon, leaves him constantly guessing.

Carly enjoys watching Danny stumble over his attempted polite compliments in part so much because many people in a cafeteria, especially when in a hurry, don’t pay much attention to their food, and honestly, considering what Carly cooks, it’s the best strategy for surviving school meals. Danny offers her an opportunity to show off, and face it, even teachers need to show off once in a while. Nothing is more satisfying than a properly shocked student.

What Danny doesn’t know, is that in Dark Lord Academy, being in charge of the cafeteria is not a simple or low-paying position. Carly is a proper teacher (although usually not of first year students). Cooking up poisons and potions is of course a crucial skill for dark lords, and it’s her simple love of experimenting on the students daily that keeps her dedicated to the school kitchens. Despite that, there’s not a lot of recognition out there for the school cook. It’s far less flashier than something like necromancy or invasion strategizing, so the students are exactly lining up for extra lessons (or second helpings).

When Carly catches Danny in a food fight, she has the perfect opportunity to corner him into private lessons about evil culinary skills under the guise of detentions.


Carly grabbed him by the ear and shoved him through the kitchen doors. It was all Danny could do to keep from moaning. An enormous stack of dirty dishes covered one wall of the kitchen.

Better get going, boy,” boomed Carly, shoving him toward the dishes. “They won’t wash themselves.”

What about magic? Or minions?” Danny muttered.

Hah! Why use minions when I have disobedient little students like you?” Carly chortled her sour laugh again. “But if you think you can use Dark Magic to get them clean, go right ahead.”

Danny knew better than to respond to that. He rolled up his black sleeves and started scrubbing. Carly sat in a chair, put up her feet, and started reading a huge book entitled: “The Better Dungeons and Graveyards Cookbook.”

Soup tomorrow…lemme see,” she said cheerfully. “What’d ya think, Zixy-boy, Eye of Newt Chowder or Rat-tail Broth? Oooh, look, Bat-wing Lasagna with deep-fried chicken feet on the side—I bet the students would love that! Mwehehe! So, what’d ya say, Zixy-boy?”

Umm…” Danny mumbled from within an enormous pot he had to practically crawl into to get to the bottom. It stunk like rancid oil, making it hard to breathe. Why the food tasted as it did was becoming all too clear.

Can’t hear ya, speak on up?” Carly sounded jolly.

Danny took a deep breath, gagged, and searched for an appropriate answer. “What about dessert?”

Ah ha! I like the way you think!” Carly slammed the book on the table so loudly Danny jumped, spraying suds in the air and banging his head on the side of the pot. “I’ve got just the book—Dargroth’s Deadly Delights! I haven’t read that in years!”

Danny rubbed his head and stared after her a moment as Carly went to fetch it. Then he set back to scrubbing the pot as hard as possible, hoping against hope he could somehow finish before getting a list of grossed out desserts. But it was more likely Armageddon would arrive, considering the stack of dishes still tottered up near the ceiling.


About Ardyth:

Ardyth DeBruyn is a native Oregonian with a restless nature and a degree in Anthropology. After hiking over 1500 miles across Europe and living on the Mexican border for a year, she settled back in the Pacific Northwest (for now) to write fantasy stories. She has decided she can type herself into adventures faster than walk. She has fiction published in a number of webzines and two children’s novels, ”Chosen Sister,” with Wild Child Publishing, and “A School for Villains.”

Where to find her:

Twitter: @ArdythDeBruyn


  1. Carly is a brilliant use of one of the scariest people in a kid's life: the dread lunch lady.

    This is such a fun book. I recommend it to everybody who likes fantasy.

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt. The book sounds very interesting.



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