Asbury, although a haven to shoobies (tourists) in the summer, is a divided coastal town. With the rich half living in the East, and the rest living in the West, most friendships stay within their boundaries. Luckily for a spunky-smart tomboy, a clever billionaire athlete, a gossipy-in-the-know cheerleader, and a wrong side of the tracks technological genius, boundaries are a foreign concept. In fact, Maddie, Cornelious, Carly and Pilot have been Asbury’s strongest quartet for years, despite their vast differences. Nevertheless, after a few weeks of starting high school, the foursome’s friendship is tested.
After a string of burglaries in East Asbury, the gang decides to solve the crime as a reason to make time for each other. The further they investigate, the more they find themselves constantly side-stepping tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum-like policemen, outsmarting local bully JB and his gang of misfits, and dealing with Cornelious’ billionaire father and Governor—who has disapproved of his son’s choice of friends for years. In addition to these obstacles, the foursome must also adapt to their evolving friendship with each other and their peers.
With upperclassmen, teachers, and teammates vying for their attention, the gang must work even harder to root out the red-herrings from the true thief. Aided by Carly’s gossip, Maddie’s boldness, Cornelious’ quick-wit, and Pilot’s knack for technology, the gang soon discovers its edge over the local police department.
Targeted Age Group:: 12 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer—or an FBI Agent, with a specialty in Cult Studies. That’s another story altogether though…
Anyway, during the summer that I graduated from Ocean City High School (2009!), I had a lot of free time. In the fall, I was going to be playing Division 2 basketball at National Powerhouse Holy Family University. Yes, I was extremely excited for that—but, on the other hand, my parents were going through a divorce and I felt guilty going out with friends when my dad was at home, feeling sad. Don’t worry he has an AWESOME girlfriend now, with an AMAZING name… (it’s Kelly), and my parents are fine with each other now—but at the time it was a little rough.
Thus, when most of my high school friends were hanging on the beach or partying at night, I was practicing basketball and working out, reading, and writing out the complete seven series outline of Asbury High. Who says you have to be bored when there’s nothing to do?
Side note- I had just bought my first laptop and was PUMPED to use it! The old wannabe-spy in me had always envisioned myself typing away on a laptop…
Because I grew up in Upper Township, right across the bridge from Ocean City, NJ, I knew how sweet it was to grow up by the shore. In fact, the name Asbury comes from a street in Ocean City, where my two favorite bookstores are located!
By the end of the summer, I had mapped out the seven books I had hoped to write, finished my manuscript and even drew up a map of Asbury.
BUT, then college came around and being apart of the NCAA is no joke. They may be paying for your education, but it is a full-time job. Believe me. During the later half of my sophomore year, I took a Lit course in which I was known as the girl who could successfully compare every single reading assignment to Harry Potter. And I did so like a pro. That teacher told us that the best authors write what they know.
It was then that the itch to write returned.
That summer, I reread my book—and laughed. I had only a handful of characters and minimal descriptions. It read similar to a script of a play, with only dialogue. I jumped back into the world of Asbury and added more characters and loads more detail. It took about three more years after that, before Asbury High and the Thief’s Gamble was complete. I was pumped, and began to query agents.
The only thing is, most agents only want a synopsis, query letter, and first ten pages…what good mystery stories really take off in the first ten pages (especially when it’s a series, with necessary character development).
Anyway, during this time I had moved to Philly, and met the love of my life. I was also teaching full time at St. Hilary’s in Abington, and dedicating less time to writing. That changed after Ryan and I got married and moved back to South Jersey. Ryan loved listening to my stories (at least he said he did…) and encouraged me to keep writing.
Two years later, I have two others books in the Asbury High series in their final editing stage, and even completed an adult crime novel—which I hope to also release this year.
Although it was a long road, I can truly say I am excited to begin this next part of my journey—and keep the stories coming!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Well, there are quite a few characters in the books, and more are added as the novels progress. For the most part, I did have reasons for most characters.
Here are the reasons for the names of the GANG:
Madeline Isabella Lydia Natalie Cecilia Petrozza- I always loved the name Maddie, and my childhood best friend’s mom’s last name was Petrozza. I threw in a lot of last names because I loved the scene in the original Spy Kids (see, I’m obsessed with spies!), where the girl has to say her name in order to enter the room and its extremely long, and unexpected.
Cornelious Gibbz- I’ve always wanted to name my son Cornelious—my husband quickly vetoed that idea. But my first car—a 1992, TEAL Volvo, was named Cornelious. And my best friend, and high school point guard’s last name is Gibbs.
Carly Cosentino- This name is a combo of my two oldest friends. One was my next door neighbor in Upper, and the other has been my friend since before I was born (our mom’s were friends, it’s not a time warp thing).
Pilot Owens- Okay, this name I stole from my aforementioned friend, Carly. She loves weird names and would always pretend to be Pilot or have a son named Pilot in our games of make-believe AND Owen is her brother’s name. Because our families are so close (still), I have always felt that Owen was my little brother too!
There are reasons for the other names too, however I feel like it would take a while to go through them all. If you want to know the inspiration behind a certain character, ask me! Although, if your name matches someone in the story, it might just be a coincidence—or I might be trying to tell you something 😊
Maddie slid over to Cornelious and started to gesture that they should slowly make their way downstairs, when she thought she heard a door opening or closing. The only problem was, it sounded like it was coming from behind them. Apparently, Cornelious had heard it too, for he slowly turned and raised the flashlight over to where Carly was nervously playing with her nails. Standing right behind Carly, raising a dangerous-looking object above his head, was a figure clad in all black, without an inch of skin showing. Immediately, all three knew it was the thief. Carly was literally the only one left in the dark.
Although Maddie and Cornelious had heard the noise and turned around first, Pilot was the first one to spring into action. As the thief began to swing his weapon, Pilot lunged forward and knocked Carly to the ground.
“Ouch! What the—,” but Carly cut herself short as she realized what had taken place. Pilot had pushed her out of the way and ended up leaving himself totally vulnerable to the thief. Before anyone could make a move, the thief swung his weapon at Pilot and instantly made contact. As Pilot crumpled to the ground, Maddie and Cornelious lunged at the thief. Using only his body, he bowled over Cornelious and threw his weapon at Maddie—who luckily ducked down in time.
“Neal! You okay?” Maddie asked rushing over to his side.
“Yeah, fine. Let’s go! He’s getting away!” Cornelious sprang up and ran down the stairs in pursuit of the thief.
Before joining him, Maddie ran to where Pilot lay unconscious. She, thankfully, felt a pulse and ordered Carly to call 911 immediately. Carly wiped away her tears and dug her phone out of her pocket. Not wanting to waste any more time Maddie sprinted down the staircase, and into the den, to the left of the main door.
To Maddie, it looked like a fight scene ripped out of a badly choreographed movie. Cornelious had temporarily stopped the thief from leaving out the far side window in the den. The thief was holding a bulging bag (full of stolen goods) in one hand, and a poker he had grabbed from the fireplace in the other. The only thing between the thief and Cornelious was the leather couch and stained wooden coffee table. However, the only thing between Maddie and the thief was, well nothing. Cornelious realized this too, and tried to distract the thief by keeping his full attention.
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