After Craig’s mom dies, his dad becomes abusive. Craig reacts by vandalizing others’ property and becomes an outcast in the community. Finally he runs away. Though he tries to cut down a tree belonging to his neighbors, the Arks, they open their hearts to him and take him into their home. Craig’s dad also runs away, and his disappearance is a mystery. Nelson Ark’s dog, Siegfried, sort of adopts Craig, seeming to sense that Craig needs a friend and someone (dog) to love. The whole community, including the group, Kids for a Better Tomorrow (K’BeTs), join together to present a Winter Carnival to raise money for the tree’s care. One of the K’BeTs, a cute girl, Carson, befriends Craig, realizing he is remorseful. In attempting to “mend” the tree, Craig mends his own life.
Barbara is here to share with us her forthcoming release, WOUNDS, which will be available from MuseItUp starting September 16th!
You can purchase WOUNDS at MuseItUp, or Amazon!
The plot for my book, Wounds, came about after I read about a giant tree that someone attempted to mutilate. As I was a children’s writer, I wanted to write about the tree, but with a child as my protagonist. I felt that anyone who would take out his angst on a tree was bound to have personal problems. So I gave my boy, Craig, some home and school problems. I tried to pile it on: his mother is dead, his dad has become abusive, and he, Craig, has vandalized things at school. He’s carrying a big load of guilt and becomes isolated.
I was greatly influenced by Eve Buntings Blackwater. This novel is so intense that it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. It’s ultimately about guilt and honesty and the pains of growing up.
Here is an excerpt of Wounds to whet your appetite. Craig has moved into the home of the Ark family, the people who own the tree he tried to cut down. This is the following day; the dog’s name is Siegfried:
Stepping onto the back porch was like stepping into another dimension. Fog surrounded the house, shrinking Craig’s world into this little acre and distancing him from all else. Closing the door behind the dog, Craig took a deep breath and forced himself to look at the tree. It stood as always in its corner of the lawn, shrouded in a veil of luminous mist.
Craig carefully descended the steps and moved into the fog. As he crossed the backyard, he looked for changes in the tree. It stood stalwart and green. It didn’t look so very different except for the lighter colored band encircling the trunk. Chips and sawdust on the ground gave evidence of the assault.
Thinking back two days, Craig could hardly believe it was he who had done that terrible thing. It couldn’t have been me. But, wait. Yes, it was. He remembered every nuance of feeling that flooded his mind and body that day. The fear. The jealousy turning to hatred. The rage.
That was me. But not the real me.
It was someone Craig wanted to forget, to leave behind. He wanted to run away from that person as much as he wanted to run away from his dad. And he would do it, too—when the right time came.
Nelson thought he was a coward; that he wouldn’t live up to what he had done. “I’m not a coward!” Craig protested. The feeling he had been trying to bury now surfaced. He made himself confront his malicious behavior. He faced his guilt squarely. He remembered how he tried to cut down the tree. How heartless he had been. He was guilty and he regretted what he had done. The realization had a grip on his throat.
Craig looked up into the green foliage, and as he did, drops of condensed water on the leaves dropped onto his face. He wiped his hand across his eyes. Not all of the dampness was from the fog. Tears of remorse mingled with the mist. The long moment slowly spun itself out.
Now sunlight filtered through the branches of the tree. As the fog dissolved, the gnawing pain of guilt was overpowered by an even stronger emotion. Craig wanted to repair the tree. But how? What could he do? What should he be doing now?
A solution came to him. Fertilizer. Of course. He would spread fertilizer around the tree and that would heal its wound.
As quickly as he could, restrained by pain and the crutches, Craig returned to the utility shed where he found the chain saw two days before. Siegfried followed him.
A bag of fertilizer leaned against the wall and the spreader stood beside it. Craig tossed his crutches aside. He fumbled with the string holding the bag closed and ripped it off. He poured fertilizer into the spreader. Siegfried took a whiff, sneezed, and backed away. Using the spreader for support, Craig wheeled it out and over to the big oak. He pressed the release, and as he limped around the tree, the white fishy-smelling powder flowed out. This ought to do it. I’ll sprinkle water on the fertilizer and it will soak in overnight.
A bit about Barbara:
I enjoy learning about writing for children and have attended the Muse Online Conferences and a Highlights summer session at Chautauqua. I treasure the friendships I have made through the Muse Conference Board. I am a member of two critique groups and am thankful for the help I have received from them. My greatest pleasure is being with my children and grandchildren. We love to travel together. My hobby is raising butterflies.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Barbara! I hope everyone enjoyed learning more about WOUNDS! I will be on her blog on the 24th, which will be lots of fun!