December 10, 2015
Welcome to Day 4 of #MGRewind week!
Celebrate Middle Grade reads with
Sharing his memories as an MG reader, we welcome
STEVE BRYANT, author of the
LUCAS MACKENZIE AND THE LONDON MIDNIGHT GHOST SHOW.
Come back everyday this week where we’ll feature another author, and
be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.
But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.
Like the rest of Luca’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?
If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.
When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?
Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.
One of the side benefits of becoming a published middle grade writer is recalling what it was like to be a middle grade reader. For me, growing up in a small Midwestern town (Cairo, Illinois), it was a case of limited options. Retail book sales were severely limited to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. I loved them nonetheless, little knowing that my favorite author (Franklin W. Dixon) didn’t exist, that his novels were ghost written. The Hardy Boys formed the basis of social reading: we would take turns reading chapters aloud at overnights, along with sharing our comics collections (mine were Batman, my friends’ Tarzan andSuperman). Alas, I never read the Nancy Drews nor enjoyed multiple-gender overnights.
My private reading blossomed in the fourth grade when I joined the Science Fiction Book Club, expanding my purchasing boundaries. As I recall, a new hardback would arrive every three weeks or so for about a dollar a volume, along with a fascinating newsletter describing coming works. I favored the short story anthologies (e.g., The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology, ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.). My favorite novel of the era was Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man, the first Hugo winner. All those books had uneven, ragged edges, and I still have a sentimental attachment to the style.
Our Cairo Public Library supplemented my reading, not only with more science fiction, but with a wider reach: Longfellow’sSong of Hiawatha, Jack London’s arctic tales, James Thurber’s wacky life and hard times. But I was bitten by science fiction and gravitated to the Robert A. Heinlein juveniles such as Time for the Stars and Tunnel in the Sky. When I had exhausted the library’s collection, the lady whose little store provided our school supplies astonished me by stating that she could order any book in print. In the pre-Amazon days this sounded like a miracle, and we put it to the test. For $4.98 she acquired me a copy of Heinlein’s The Star Beast. I have it to this day, and it was the beginning of a lifetime of serious book acquisition.
Were you to ask me in those days why I liked Heinlein, I would have said I liked him because I liked science fiction. Years later I realized that it was because Heinlein always pitted boys and girls together against formidable odds, and romance ensued.That’s what I loved. I have always remembered to make romance a key part of any stories I write.
Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).
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