Good Ghoul

Good Ghoul

Actress, author, illustrator, Taylor Dolan does it all


Actors were wrapping up the February production of “Into the Woods” at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, and they wanted to give director Julie Gabel something to remember them by. Having learned that Taylor Dolan — the actress playing Cinderella’s Stepmother — was also an artist, they asked her to do a little sketch.

Taylor Dolan, author and illustrator of “Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak,” went on the road for a British book tour with her mom, Katie Dolan, who is also the library media specialist at Leverett Elementary School in Fayetteville.
(Courtesy Photo)

What they got was a full-blown piece of art, and that says almost everything there is to say about Dolan, a newcomer to Northwest Arkansas. There is no halfway with her, and at 29, she’s already done more than many people twice her age, including releasing the first in her children’s book series, “Ghoul Scouts,” on Feb. 2 and embarking on a book signing tour of the United Kingdom just after “Into the Woods” closed.

Dolan says it all started in Texas — and in her imagination.

“I grew up in a suburb outside of Houston and had a wide array of fantasy occupations: Broadway actress, forensic anthropologist, audiobook narrator,” she reminisces. “While I grew up in Texas, I have also lived in New York, France, Scotland and England. Northwest Arkansas just happened to be my next stop after both my parents moved to Fayetteville.

“I didn’t formally pick up art until my undergraduate degree, [but] I took my first acting class when I was 7 and obsessively listened to ‘Rabbit Ears Radio,’ a folklore storytelling radio program, before that. Honestly, I needed all my loves to make ‘Ghoul Scouts’ come together. I see bookmaking as a form of flattened theater. As the author and the illustrator, I have the joy of being director, playwright, techie and cast.”

In “Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak,” heroine Lexie Wilde was supposed to be going to the Happy Hollow Scout Camp for Joyful Boys and Girls for the summer, but instead, she finds herself making friends with a werewolf, a skeleton, “a fancy schmancy zombie” and a baseball-hat-wearing ghost.
(Courtesy Images)

Although her undergraduate degree in fine arts took her to Paris for a year — “essentially, I ate baguettes every day and tromped around with a paintbrush in my hair, sketching things” — it was in England that she found her community. Her master’s degree from the Cambridge School of Art is in children’s book illustration.

“People never made much sense to me,” Dolan admits, “but art and books I could live in for hours and weeks and days and months, so the idea took hold quite early on to do whatever it took to stay in that book world full time. When you care about something so small, finding a community of other people who do too is just magical!”

Dolan was in England for five years before returning to the United States and making her way to Fayetteville for the first time. Her mother is an elementary school librarian and her father an executive at Tyson Foods.

“I had been overseas so long, and I really wanted to reconnect with my family and live where I didn’t have to fly to see them,” she says. “And then, Mom went on the book tour with me, and the two of us visited nine elementary schools all over England. We made matching costumes, shared Ghoul Scout songs, and read out chapters of the book in very thick Texan accents!”

“‘Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak’ is for readers of all ages who love The Addams Family, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, etc.,” she explains. “It’s about a little girl, named Lexie, who is off to summer camp. She thinks she is headed to the Happy Hollow Camp for Joyful Boys and Girls, but somehow accidentally ends up at Camp Croak, a Ghoul Scout camp for all kinds of monsters and beasties! When a sinister and suspicious sleeping sickness invades the camp, the Ghoul Scouts have to use all their badges to save the day.

“I am an ardent escapist when it comes to my reading choices, and my writing follows along,” she adds. “I hope readers will have fiendish fun, so much so that they can escape into their imaginations for a while. I hope they will feel like a member of a bigger Ghoul Scout troop.”

Dolan just recorded the audiobook for “Ghoul Scouts,” is working on the sequel, draws every day “because I need to draw, and I write so I have something to apply my drawing to,” she says. “It’s a wonderful compulsion and obsession.”

“Sophisticated fun like this demands to be read aloud,” one reviewer wrote about “Ghoul Scouts,” but “brush up on your Southern belle first for best results.”

(Courtesy Images)


Go Online!

“Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak” is available on Amazon.

Read more about Taylor Dolan and see more of her art at

Categories: Family Friendly