A missing teenage boy. A deserted graveyard. Three friends who know what happened. A secret they swear never to tell. Until the secret comes back to haunt them…thirty years later.
It’s October and we all know what that means…crunchy autumn leaves underfoot, pumpkin spice everywhere, hoodies, and of course, Halloween. What’s more “Halloween-y” than creepy stories set in a graveyard? Aside from anything written by Stephen King, of course.
My latest novel, Friends From the Edge is one such book…that takes place in a graveyard, that is.
The novel follows four teenage friends who live in a cul-de-sac in the late 80s. A cul-de-sac named “The Edge”. Jack, Matt, Lisa, and Cassie. The alpha male, the lucky one, the goody-two shoes, and the glamorous hottie that all the boys want.
On the outside, they seem to have it all. Yet inside, the teens are shattered in pieces. It is their unbreakable friendship with each other that prevents them from falling apart. Until the one night when tragedy is set forth into motion by their actions, leaving one of the four dead…and missing.
The remaining three swear to never speak of that night again…or to each other. They go their separate ways, hoping to bury their mistakes and the past.
Thirty years later, one of the friends gets an ominous message. Someone is digging into their past and threatening to expose their secret. Who is it and what do they really want? Is their secret the only thing that isn’t safe, or are their lives in danger, too?
Interview By A Teenage Daughter
I found myself cringing when I found out my teenage daughter read Friends From the Edge. She sneaked it off the bookshelf, otherwise we would have had a conversation about it beforehand. Usually I try not to shield her too much from mature subject matter—she needs to learn about the world and I feel like by not shying away from these topics, I can keep an open dialogue with her. It’s scary raising a teen in today’s world…I want both my kids to know they can talk to me about anything and that I’m not hiding things from them.
Needless to say, according to my daughter, it’s “Weird” when you’re reading stuff your mom wrote…especially during silent reading in Language Arts class. And then your teacher calls your mom because you’re reading something a bit inappropriate for school. That your mom WROTE. Ooops.
Anyway, she actually liked the book and had a few questions about it (and they weren’t the questions I thought she would have…thank God.) Her questions were thought provoking and I wanted to share them with my readers…you know, in case you had the same questions.
What Inspired “Friends From the Edge”?
Many writers, myself included, draw inspiration from real life events or personal experiences. Many times, the characters that you meet in books are amalgams of people we’ve met in our lives, and scenes are bits and pieces of situations that we’ve encountered. A lot of the stories writers come up with are born out of a situation they’ve been in…usually those scenes play out differently in real life than they do in the books they write. I think writers often play “what if” to come up with the plots of their books.
I got the idea for Friends From the Edge being about kids in the 80s because, well, I was a kid in the 80s. It’s strange how we often find ourselves nostalgic for childhood when we wanted nothing but to grow up as soon as possible when we were children. I wanted to write a book about being a kid, being a teen, during that time in history—like I could somehow relieve those days by writing about them. Much of the pop culture references I incorporated in Friends were important to me during my own teenage-hood.
Eerily enough, I lived across the street from a graveyard when I was younger. Despite constant assurances from my parents, I was petrified of it for most of my early years. Even back then, I had a vivid imagination and could dream up pretty unlikely scenarios for that graveyard. We moved when I was six years old, but I still get the creeps from that graveyard whenever I pass it to this day. So I wanted a graveyard in this book…because in my six year old brain (and forty-two year old brain), nothing good ever happens in a graveyard. Especially not when a bunch of teen are hanging around unsupervised (ahhhh, I miss the 80s…)
How Did You Make the Reader Feel Like They Were Actually IN the Novel?
I wasn’t sure what she meant by this at first. But then she explained that she felt so drawn into the story that it was like she was actually there. That’s one of the best compliments a writer can ever receive. That is exactly what we strive for when we write…we want our readers to feel that emotional connection with the characters and physical connection with the scenes.
Like a magician, I can’t reveal my secrets. However, I will say, writing this book felt very real to me. I was able to summon up a lot of repressed feelings from when I was the age of the characters. I think that made it so much easier to write. Plus, I played a lot of 80s music when I wrote—it took me back and helped me remember what it was like to be their age, to get into their heads.
Was It Hard to Kill Off a Central Character?
Ugh. Yes. I’ve only killed off a few characters in my previous novels, but they were mostly unlikable characters. This was the first time I had to plot the demise of a character I liked. Obviously, the book would have had no plot without the death, but it was almost painful to do. I knew I had to kill one of the boys off, but I enjoyed creating these characters so much, it felt like an impossible Sophie’s choice. Like choosing between my children. Obviously in the end I made a decision—one that pushed the book in the direction that it needed to go in.
Will There Be a Sequel?
Honestly, I feel as if everything was wrapped up as much as it could possibly be at the end. I don’t think it leaves you hanging…too much. But, I never say never. I can’t be certain that I won’t be inspired to go back and write about Cassie, Lisa, Matt, and Jack again.