All my life, I’ve spent time with teenagers and I must say, they are the most interesting age group of all. Teens are just beginning their journey in the world. They are enthusiastic, bright, energetic, argumentative, inquisitive and not yet corrupted and stale. They want to explore and most of them, if allowed to speak honestly, will tell you exactly what they think.
While I was raising my four daughters, I was a Girl Scout Leader, a softball coach, a youth group leader, a Sunday school superintendent, and junior golf director. Basically, I was up to my eyeballs in kids and while it was stressful at times, I look back on those days as exhilarating and exciting.
My daughter’s friends often hung out at our house so I was always cooking for one or two extra kids. There were sleepovers and parties and late night discussions about all manner of things.
These were precious transitional times and I wanted teen characters in my book. I knew I wanted teens and adults working together to solve a heinous crime.
The teens in my story are patterned after real teens I knew and worked with. They have dreams and hopes. Sometimes they are bullied, neglected, and discouraged. They can also be generous, kind and heroic.
Edsell Jones, the center of my story is a well-liked 17-year old misfit who often gets into trouble in school and around the town of Toms River. He disappears one night while walking home from his girlfriend’s house in Seaside Heights. His single mother works the midnight shift at a local diner and when she gets home in the morning, her son is gone. She calls the cops, but they put her off. It’s summertime at the Jersey Shore, and everyone is frantically busy. Plus, Edsell has been picked up before, so the police blow her off, suggesting he’s just hanging out with friends somewhere. Not to worry, they tell her. He’ll show up soon.
But Lorraine is not so sure. Edsell has never stayed out all night before. She calls his friends and no one has seen him. Soon the teens are on a mission to find their goof-ball friend.
Adults get involved and soon the story leads into the heart of the nearby Pine Barrens, a desolate million acre preserve in the heart of New Jersey. They find a big old building that is supposed to be secret drug rehab for the children of the wealthy, but when they hear screams coming from inside, they begin to wonder…..
And that’s just the beginning.