Thursday, June 05, 2008

Grabenstein Crosses Over

A change is better than a rest, they say. Chris Grabenstein would know: three years ago, having at one time written television and radio commercials, he saw the publication of his first novel, Tilt a Whirl, on the day before his 50th birthday. That book brought Grabenstein an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Two more mysteries -- Mad Mouse and Whack a Mole -- followed in 2006 and 2007, delighting a growing readership of folks who are currently looking forward to Grabenstein’s fourth novel featuring New Jersey coastal cop John Ceepak, Hell Hole, due out in August from St. Martin’s Minotaur.

A lot of writers would call that a full dance card. Not Grabenstein, though. The Crossroads, his first novel aimed at a younger audience, was published by Random House just last week.

The Crossroads is a ghost story featuring Zack Jennings, an 11-year-old who has just moved with his family to Connecticut, where he meets up with a haunted tree. On his Web site, Grabenstein explains how he hit on the idea for this particular tale (because kids don’t seem to be shy with that good old question, “Where do you get your ideas?”):
... I was jogging along a country road and saw a roadside memorial made out of a cross and a bucket of flowers nailed to a telephone pole and I wondered, “what if this spot on the road was haunted by the ghost of the person being memorialized here?” From that spark, came the other fifty thousand words in The Crossroads.
Nor will The Crossroads be a one-off. Grabenstein is currently at work on another book for 9- to 12-year-olds featuring these same characters: The Willowmeier. If this author stays true to form, his young fans won’t have long to wait.



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