The Trickster Dreamer

Book Cover


19th Century,Across Centuries

S. C. Tzavella

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In a magical world called Shallowland, an eccentric spirit photographer, the Man in the Stovepipe Hat, and his wife, Magiana, struggle to prove that ghosts not only exist, but the dead can be captured along with their living relatives. Facing skeptical foes, rationalists, and an insidious beau, they are forced to reveal a profound mystery in a sensational trial for fraud and larceny.


Mystery, Historical Fiction, Drama, Fantasy, Family,,Drama,Biographical,Fantasy,Historical Fiction

Short Summary

Magiana arrives on the shores of Shallowland to meet her future husband, The Man in the Stovepipe Hat. But all the men on the quay are wearing stovepipe hats. Eager for happiness, she follows a spirit photographer, a man with a mission that life does not understand.


New York, 19th century

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise


Plot - Other Elements

Meaningful Message, Philosophical Questions, Twist,,Philosophical Questions,Twist

Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details

Name: The Man in the Stovepipe Hat

Age: 35

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Decisive, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Perseverance, Strong Moral Code, Visionary, Adventurous, Complex,Aspiring,Complex,Adventurous,Charming,Confident,Faithful,Skillful,Visionary,Sophisticated

Additional Character Details

Name: Magiana

Age: 28

Gender: Female

Role: Emotional

Key Traits: Charming, Empathetic, Faithful, Gracious, Perseverance, Romantic, Selfless, Sophisticated,Adventurous,Empathetic,Faithful,Gracious,Selfless,Romantic

Additional Character Details

Name: Potupko

Age: 55

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive, Complex, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Greedy, Manipulative, Narcissistic, Villainous,Greedy,Villainous,Narcisstic,Sarcastic

Additional Character Details

Name: Woodlow

Age: 45

Gender: Male

Role: emotional

Key Traits: Visionary, Crazy, Engaging, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Charming, Funny, Sophisticated, Skillful,Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Crazy,Engaging,Funny,Sophisticated

About The Author

S.C. Tzavella is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, creator of TV formats, TV host, visual storyteller, researcher of human consciousness, and writer of magical realism, based in Vancouver, Canada. In the last 5 centuries many members of her family were war generals, government leaders, revolutionaries, writers and directors, interacting with historical figures like Lord Byron, Ali Pasha of Ioannina, Catherine the Great, Pushkin, King Otto, Amalia of Oldenburg and many others. As a creator, S.C. Tzavella was born in her belief that ancestors and descendants lead concurrently their lives, changing the circumstances constantly in them throughout time and space. S.C. Tzavella’s quantum-physics inspired TV show, The New Files, has been described unanimously by some of the brightest spiritual leaders and researchers on planet, participants in the show, as "truly astounding and fascinating with an amazing grasp of the material, and the professional approach".

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+,13-17

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: S.C. Tzavella

Year Published: 2019

Hard Copy Available







the Man in the Stovetop Hat and his wife, Magiana, struggle to prove the existence of ghosts with concrete photographic evidence. When the court calls their methods into question they must prove the unprovable. Magiana fell in love with her husband thinking he was someone else and this comes back to haunt their marriage.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: FAIR

Premise: GOOD

Structure: FAIR

Theme: FAIR

Accuracy of Book Profile

The Book Profile identifies the man as the real world character of William Mumler who died innocent but destitute. The connection is not apparent in the book and helps add context to the spiritual realm the narrative focuses on to make the rising actions easier to follow.

Draw of Story

The Man in the Stovetop Hat is employing new technology and new beliefs in one issue by using photography to prove spiritualism. Having to prove ghosts exist this way is a compelling court case.

Possible Drawbacks

The analogies add to the eccentric tone and voice of the story, but if stripped as would be the case in a visual adaptation, many of the scenes do not have much plot development and the elaborate character descriptions and emotions when reduced to a screen's frame rather than a paragraph shorten the narrative arc. The initial lack of context about the spiritual realm and Shallowland make the court case and real world development separation somewhat confusing.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that the Man in the Stovetop Hat must prove that ghosts exists with photography in an open court to show that he is not a fraud in his spiritualism. It is a compelling conflict to prove the unprovable.

Fanbase Potential

As this is a piece of historical fiction and somewhat set in the fantasy of dreams and other realms this may have a smaller fanbase as a prestige drama. Period pieces generally have a smaller audience than a normal courtroom drama unless the case is well known to the public.

Awards Potential

The characters are quite restrained as per their time period and thus their emotional range is likely not to garner acting nominations. This may get notice for design elements such as costume or props due to the research needed in reproducing old photography and film manipulation techniques.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The originality stems from the notoriety of the Man in the Stovetop Hat's photography and his subsequent court case trying to prove his ghosts are as real as his developing techniques. Focusing less of the initial story on the love triangle and more on the consequences of the Man's spiritual convictions both with public reactions of believers and skeptics could help centralize the case and make the innocent decision more meaningful and surprising as the climax.

Lead Characters

The Man in the Stovetop Hat is devoted to his wife and his work. The couple is loyal to their convictions even in their downfall. Magiana is dreamlike and dependable but too susceptible to others' influence.

Uniqueness of Story

The real life use of William Mumler and his court case as a premise is a rare gem but the execution of making the main conflict a love triangle lessens the originality of what the Man in the Stovetop Hat has to prove and what his proof will save.

Possible Formats

Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

Analyst Recommendation



While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

Mumler is a fascinating character tied to Mary Todd Lincoln and so many more. Using his identity less fictionally, such as the focus in Shallowland, could help make the courtroom case easier to follow and allow a main conflict outside of a love triangle. Showing the consequences of his convictions before his court case could also help add investment to the verdict.