Mystery surrounds the town of Summertime, Indiana, where fifteen-year-old Tommy Walker and his little sister are sent to live with relatives they’ve never met. Tommy soon makes friends with Finn Wilds, a rebellious local who lives with his volatile and abusive stepfather, who also happens to be the town’s sheriff.
Finn invites Tommy to late night meetings in the woods, where Tommy gets to know two girls. He forms a special and unique connection with both girls. The meetings become a place where the kids, who don’t fit in at school, or home can finally belong. As the group of friends unravel clues to a cold case murder and kidnapping— they learn the truth is darker and closer than they ever imagined. Even if they live to tell, will anyone believe them?
Targeted Age Group:: 12 plus
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My work with foster kids was a big part of my inspiration for writing Nocturnal Meetings. I met so many resilient kids. This book deals with kids who come from difficult home lives. I also found inspiration from my true crime obsession.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main characters, Tommy was a composite of two people I knew in different stages of my life. One boy, I had met in high school during a Saturday detention. He later dropped out of school to help support his single mother with MS. The second boy I met while working as a school social worker. He grew up with a mother who was addicted to drugs. He helped care for his younger siblings and kept his family together for a long time. Both had a lot of heart like my protagonist. I could hear them when I wrote as Tommy.
The pounding woke me up. I was half asleep and freezing because we kept the thermostat at fifty. I grabbed a blanket from the bed and wrapped it around my body and got up. The dawn crept in through the flimsy blinds.
I walked into the living room, rubbing my eyes with my fingers, under the fluorescent glare. I saw my mom open the door. An older, black lady in a business suit stood there, with two police officers posed just behind her. They all wedged their way in. One of the officers was Hispanic with a bone-clean head and Van Dyke. The other officer was a muscly, white guy with a big neck and bloated face.
The lady asked my mom if she was Jennifer Walker. My mom made a noncommittal noise, before saying, “Yeah.” Next, the lady told my mom her name, and that she was with The Department of Child Welfare. I took a couple steps toward them. The lady talked to my mom. “I am here for the welfare of the children.”
My mom asked her to “Please go.”
The social worker did this thing where she put her hand up and said, “Ah, ah, ah, I am here for the welfare of these children.” This time, the lady overenunciated each word.
My mom looked small and shaky. She started to slur her words a little. “I’m a good mom.” She looked over at me, her eyes with a peculiar glaze over them. Her right hand was nervously clutching at her collarbone as she said my name over and over like I could get her out of this. The police officers came out of my mom’s room.
I didn’t know what to do. “She’s a good mom,” I mumbled. I heard the patter of small, quick feet. I turned to see Isabella running to me. I picked her up. Her face never left my shoulder.
The caseworker was a fat woman made puffier by superiority. The white officer held up a small bag of crack and looked at my mom. I flinched inside. My mom always told me not to use anything stronger than pot. “You’re going with us, good mom,” he said. I hated that guy.
That was it. I felt a twist in my gut. My life ended.
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