Terror in the Steel Mountains: A Paul Holder Adventure

Gerald Roe

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    Terror in the Steel Mountains is the story of an 11 year old boy’s struggle to make sense of the unexpected death of his mother, the growing emotional distance of his father and his disillusionment with God. Healing comes through facing new tragedy and learning to trust again.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 7-12,13-17

    Target Gender: Universal


    Information not completed

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: PublishAmerica

    Year Published: 2004

    Starting Description

    One year before the story opens Paul's mother died of a mysterious illness. He begged God to save her, but no avail. He is angry, convinced he doesn't need a God who does not love enough to care. Paul and his father are in a plane crash in the mountains. Paul must find help for his injured father.

    Ending Description

    After a harrowing night lost in the mountains, Paul is captured by a strange old man, The Mole. In this strange man, Paul finds a friend who seems to know the answers to all his questions. After rescuing Paul's dad, the Mole gives the boy a box. An old letter inside brings Paul the healing he needs.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available



    ISBN: 1-4137-4136-3

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Paul Holder

    Age: 11

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Insecure,Modest,Obedient,Religious,Desperate,Engaging,Faithful,Clumsy

    Additional Character Details

    Name: The Mole

    Age: 75-80

    Gender: Male

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Complex,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Honorable,Underdog,Blunt,Outspoken

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Will Holder

    Age: 35-40

    Gender: Male

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Confident,Decisive,Flexible

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Old Gray - a Cat

    Age: 3-5

    Gender: Other

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Faithful

    Development Pitch

    TERROR IN THE STEEL MOUNTAINS BY GERALD ROE Terror in the Steel Mountains is the first installment in the Paul Holder Adventure series. It is a faith based, non-preachy story targeted toward juvenile readers from ten to seventeen years of age. The book uses an eleven year old protagonist and several engaging characters to bring to life stories of edge of your seat adventure and intrigue. Each story is built around a single core issue of moral and/or ethical importance. This single issue is intertwined with other day to day circumstances that are not serious, except as they tend to contribute to the story’s ongoing issue and mystery. Each story ends well, with the mystery solved and a value based answer to the primary issue applied. Below is a brief synopsis of the first book in the series. “No one expects an eleven-year-old guy to lose his mind; but that’s exactly what happened to me. At least that’s how it felt at the time.” –Paul Holder, Terror in the Steel Mountains. Terror in the Steel Mountains is the story of a young boy’s struggle to make sense of the unexpected death of his mother, the growing emotional distance of his father and the boy’s disillusionment with God. PAUL HOLDER, the story’s main character, is eleven years old. He lives in Henoville, Texas, a small, isolated ranching town in the far western part of the state. His life has been stable; his home loving and grounded in strong faith. Paul has been taught—and fully accepted—that God is love and that Go




    Paul has recently lost his mother to a terrible illness. His father has planned a camping trip into the mountains which Paul is very excited about. They have a plane crash just as they are getting to the mountain. Paul has to overcome his fears and his judgement to get his father help and some closure in the process.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, the book profile accurately reflects the book.

    Draw of Story

    Paul begins to explain about the day he lost his mind. It is a child's perspective of some encounters he has with his pet and an abnormally large neighborhood dog. It piques the interest in the story and sets the tone for the rest of Paul's experiences.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The beginning of the book rambles on. The story is not driving the plot. It is not until much later, when their plane crashes that the story develops. Before this it is mainly an account of Paul's life, his love for his pet cat, Grey, and his fear of the old , crazy man in town.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is that Paul has to rely on his wits when his father's plane crashes on a mountain. His father is injured so Paul is left to find help. He pushes past his fears and finds more family in the process.

    Fanbase Potential

    This could have a large fanbase in the child/pre-teen realm. Films like this are very popular with that demographic while also being palatable for parents. It's about a young boy who ends up on an adventure of self discovery. It's a clean children's tale. There are animals acting in inspiring ways which will also draw an audience.

    Awards Potential

    This does not have awards potential. While it is an inspiring story, there are many like this. It has the same formula as many films like it such as Fly Away Home and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's heartwarming but not unique or groundbreaking.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    The original elements are that Paul's mother died and how he gets answers from her through an old diary. Otherwise this is a standard story about relying on yourself in any situation. It is a story filled with lessons for kids of this age.

    Lead Characters

    The lead characters do not stand out. Paul is a young boy trying to gain the approval of his father and grieve is mother. He is looking forward to his camping trip with his dad when disaster strikes. He rises to the occasion and is able to save himself and his father.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The is an average story that has a sweet and inspiring ending.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio

    Analyst Recommendation



    This is a consider because it has all it needs for a good children's movie. There are some scary moments, funny moments and heartwarming moments. It's meant for a younger audience.


    Terror in the Steel Mountains is the story of an 11 year old boy’s struggle to make sense of the unexpected death of his mother, the growing emotional distance of his father and his disillusionment with God. Healing comes through facing new tragedy and learning to trust again.

    What We Liked

    - Paul is a curious and intelligent boy of 11 who is trying to understand why, as he believes, God took his mother from him at an early age. His father is religious as well, and they depend on prayer to get them through life. When they get into trouble after their plane crashes in the mountains, they have to rely on their wilderness training as well. Paul also relies on his best friend - a cat - who is very intelligent and a great companion. It's an interesting group for a journey into the wilderness that has twists and turns to keep an audience guessing.
    - The protagonists' attempt at a camping trip in the mountains quickly becomes dramatic when their plane crashes. An eleven year-old has to help his injured father with limited resources. His training and wits, and his pet cat, lead him on a journey that becomes perilous. All of this is cinematic, with beautiful settings that belie the danger. The main character, Paul, is a boy worthy of empathy and capable enough to be interesting to watch as he fights for his life as well as the lives of others. And, the dynamic with his intelligent cat would be fun to watch.
    - Key points: Lost in the mountains; Smart animals; A boy at a crossroads; Life threatening situations; Beautiful scenery


    PAUL, 11, wakes up before dawn and goes outside with OLD GREY, his big cat. He sees a huge dog who growls at him, so he climbs up into his treehouse. The coast is clear and he climbs down, but out of nowhere, the dog is there again, sniffing his foot. The cat jumps on the dog’s back and Paul runs for the house as the cat and dog howl as they fight. Paul remembers when he and his mother found the cat, and he then remembers his mother’s disease and how she’d fallen down one day and he ran to get his dad WILL from the airport where he was working. His mother died. At breakfast, his dad goes over a map while Paul tries to get away without doing the dishes. His father tells him to get his bible and reads a story. Paul does the dishes and dad asks about the dog. He thinks the dog may belong to an old man named MR PARKER, whom the kids have dubbed “The Mole” because of his pointy nose. Will admonishes Paul for making fun of him, which he and his friends often did. On his way to the airport, Paul freezes crossing the runway when he sees a plane about to land right on top of him. The cat runs across his feet, snapping him out of it, and he jumps out of the way just in time. MR HASKINS gets out of the plane and lets Paul know he’ll be talking to his father. Paul’s glad he didn’t get yelled at. He then hears the cat growling at something in a hangar, and goes to investigate, and turns to run when he sees the big dog. He slams right into Mr Parker and falls to the ground. Mr Parker tells Paul to keep his cat away from his dog. Paul heads toward “The Roost,” the airport cafe where MATTIE gives him a free soda and tells him a funny story about Mr Haskins - and Paul is surprised to find out he is her younger brother. Paul and his dad drag a plane outside a hangar and Paul is in charge of making sure they have all of their safety equipment. They get lunch at The Roost, and Paul is worried that Mr Parker might do something to his cat, so he gets up and runs outside to find the cat but trips and falls, scraping his hands and knee. Will tends to his wounds back home, and Paul goes out to find his cat up in his tree house. He climbs up, looks at a picture of his mother and cries. He doesn’t know how he’ll ever get over her death and won’t forgive God for taking her.

    Will tells Paul that the next day they will be flying themselves to the Steel Mountains where they’ll camp and fish. Paul is upset when Will says the cat can’t come with them, even though the cat has flown with them before. Paul schemes to bring the cat, putting him in a duffel bag and sneaking him on the plane. The plane takes off, and the cat is out of the bag, sitting behind Will’s seat. Will doesn’t know he’s there yet. When they’re in the air, Paul is sweating from nerves. He finally confesses to his dad that the cat is with him. Will already knew - he saw him put the cat in the bag, but he isn’t angry. He was going to let the cat come with them anyway. He says he’s proud of Paul for telling the truth but disappointed that he disobeyed. They get closer to the mountains and the engine starts to sputter. Then, it stops. Will calls in a “mayday” and tells Paul to look for a flat patch of clear ground for them to land on. Paul finally spots one, and Will tells him to put his head between his legs until they’re on the ground and have stopped. As they glide closer to the land, they see that it doesn’t look as friendly.

    Paul wakes up, hanging upside down from his seatbelt. He sees his dad next to him in the crumpled up plane, not moving. Will wakes up. They have to get out of the plane in case leaking fuel causes a fire. Will’s ankle is broken and his foot is trapped and Paul has to massage it free for him to get out. They get out and crawl away from the wreckage. Paul cuts away Will’s boot and sees his broken ankle and it makes him throw up. Will tells him that right now there’s a satellite that is getting a signal from the plane and someone will come and help them. Will passes out, then Paul remembers his cat. He goes back to the plane but can’t find him. He gets the camping gear from the plane and makes camp under a big tree and starts a fire for any rescue planes to see them. He drags his dad onto a sleeping bag then makes some freeze dried soup. It’s getting dark and cold. Will has a fever and is still unconscious. Then, it starts to rain and Paul is afraid of the tent leaking - or blowing away in the howling wind. Paul prays. His fire has gone out so he goes inside the tent, then hears an animal scraping at it. Terrified, he prepares himself for a fight - but it’s only his cat - but it’s an answer to his prayers and gives him hope.

    The next morning, the storm is gone. His dad wakes up and his fever is gone but his ankle is still purple and swollen. He’s proud of Paul for making the camp, and they eat powdered eggs and Will drinks coffee. Worried about their water supply, Paul looks to a swarm of bees to lead him to water. He follows them into the woods with the cat behind him. When he realizes he’s lost, he hopes the cat will find them a way back to camp. It’s getting dark and cold, and he sleeps on the ground, hungry and thirsty. The next morning, he watches as the cat goes into the woods then comes back with a puppy. Paul can’t tell if it’s a dog or wolf, but the cat retrieves the entire litter of blind little pups. Paul is worried about where their protective mother might be. Then Grey leads Paul away, to a small cave and won’t leave until Paul reaches inside - and pulls out the dead body of the dog owned by Mr Parker. Shocked, Paul goes back to where he left the four pups. Luckily they are alive despite the fact that they must be hungry and thirsty. He gathers them up to take them to the dog so they could nurse - if the dog hadn’t been dead too long there might be some milk left. When he and Grey get back to the dog - it’s gone. He follows the cat a bit and finds a creek. Clear precious water. He jumps in and drinks. He tells the cat that he’s worried about the baby dogs when he hears a voice answer, “What babies?” Terrified, Paul backs out. He wakes up after a nightmare, in a lumpy feather bed in a cabin with pleasant smells. Scared from the stories he and his friends came up about Mr Parker, aka “The Mole,” Paul gets a window open and slips through it. The Mole chases him and finally catches him, asking why he’s acting like a foolish child and telling him to come back inside and eat. Starving, Paul risks it and wolfs down some beef stew. The Mole asks him what he’s doing out here and Paul tells his story - and The Mole says he knows Will. In fact, he introduced Will to Paul’s mother years ago. Incredulous, Paul tries to remember where their plane crashed. When he figures it out, The Mole takes him behind his cabin to where his little plane is parked. Paul thinks it’s a cool plane. He’ll need to fly to cover the ten miles Paul has wandered away from his father. Paul stays to watch the dog and the pups as The Mole takes off flying. The sun is going down when Paul hears the plane coming back, and he’s ecstatic to see his dad in the passenger seat. Paul and The Mole help Will into the cabin and make him comfortable. The Mole has a radio, and now a chopper would be coming for Will the next morning. Paul has a long conversation with his father about why God took their mother from them - he didn’t need her, they needed her. Will explains that God loves them and knows everything and that his mother will be waiting for both of them in heaven. Paul seems almost assuaged.

    The Mole and Paul sit out on the porch and drink coffee and Paul confesses he was a part of the group of boys who called him names. The Mole, or Wilfred, said he doesn’t worry about that stuff because he was a boy himself once and he’s sure Paul would grow up to be a fine man one day. He tells Paul that he knew his mother since she was a little girl and lived nearby. When her father died, Wilfred helped out Paul’s grandmother and taught Paul’s mother all about the woods. She met Will and they got married. Wilfred is hiding from his wealthy family who want him in the family business but he decided he wanted to live close to the land and have a simple life.

    Wilfred thinks his dog went into a coma after delivering her pups and he thinks God, with the help of Paul’s cat, brought them all together. Will wakes Paul up the next morning. The chopper has already landed, and Mattie is there cooking cheeseburgers for breakfast. She gives Paul a big hug. Mr Haskins gives Paul a rare smile and is glad to see him. Wilfred gives Paul a treasured possession of his - it’s Paul’s mother’s diary from when she was a child. It’s time to go, and Mr Haskins and Mattie sit up front in the helicopter while Paul, Will and the cat sit in back as they fly back to Texas. Wilfred marked a page from the diary for Paul to read first. His mother finds out that her mother is dying from a disease that is hereditary. She asks God that if she inherits the disease and she has a family of her own that God takes her peacefully and that her family isn’t too upset - it’s what she prayed for. Will asks Paul what Wilfred had given him back at the cabin, and Paul replies, “Answers.”

    About The Author

    Gerald Roe is a Professor of Intercultural Studies at North Greenville University in Tigerville, SC. He and wife Cheryl have four grown children and eight grandchildren. Gerald enjoys writing, wood carving and international travel. He is the author of three books including a second book in the Paul Holder series: The Curse of Red Wolf Valley.