Sometimes no father is better than a false father.
In 1898 California, Jake Alderdice comes of age as a shy and contemplative youth who is passionate about art. On vacation in Waxwood, now a fashionable resort town, he meets Harland Stevens, who takes an interest in the young man’s artistic ambitions. Stevens seizes upon the fatherless young man to counsel him toward a path to manhood inspired by Teddy Roosevelt and Thoreau. He introduces Jake to The Order of Actaeon, a secret society built upon Roosevelt’s ideals of masculine virility and virtue.
But the path to maturity is a complex thing in the Gilded Age. Will his journey free him from the Alderdice family illusions, half-truths, and lies that have kept him a child? Or will it lead him into the world of Actaeon, where the hunter becomes the hunted?
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book began as a segment of a long novel in 3 voices back in 2004. I was inspired to turn the segment into a novel that is part of my Waxwood Series for several reasons. I loved the main character and felt he had a lot to offer readers in terms of his journey to finding out about his family past and making decisions regarding his coming of age. I also set the book in the Gilded Age (1890s) and in researching, I discovered the "masculinity crisis" going on during that time and I was inspired to write a story about a young man who was caught in the middle of this crisis, both looking back and moving forward.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
As I mentioned, the MC (Jake Alderdice) was a character from an old book, but as I rewrote and revised this novel, I came to know who he was and what his deal was much better. I wanted to explore the character of a young man coming of age at the end of the 19th century who came from a privileged family but was a sort of "odd duck" in the rigid social definitions of the wealthy social class from which he comes.
The afternoon sun had arrived with its vengeance of rising heat. Jake took out his handkerchief and wiped at his forehead. At the same time, he felt something inside him shiver. He couldn’t help but think of what Vivian would have said, if she had heard the tale. He knew she would have found it one more reason to avoid Stevens, as the story would have struck her as another way in which Roger had been right about the way in which Stevens and his father engineered their will against the will of others.
"I suppose your father understood you." He put the handkerchief away and made a shot through the hoop in front of him.
As Stevens set down his mallet down, Jake felt the weight of his expectant eyes. "I thought you would change your mind.”
“Change my mind?”
“About needing guidance,” said the redhead. "You needn’t be abashed. Other young men such as yourself have come to me when they needed a father too."
“I didn’t say I needed a father.” Jake looked at the tussled grass at his feet. "I only meant I would be grateful for any ideas you have for me about my new undertakings.”
"As you wish," said Stevens, though his eyes sparkled in the sun.
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