Manny O’Donnell revels in his status at the top of his high school food chain. He and his friends party in the mountains on a blustery night, sharing liquor and lame ghost stories around a campfire. The next morning, as a wild fire rages in those same mountains, Manny experiences doubt. He was the last of the drunken crew to leave the cave, and he’s uncertain if he extinguished the flames. Within hours, he becomes the number one arson suspect.
Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would’ve learned that the first time he started a fire.
As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.
Targeted Age Group:: 14 and up
How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
When writing young adult fiction, it’s important to tap into those strong emotions that consume teens. They’re still figuring things out while also juggling pressures from school, peers, and family.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t try to be someone else. Have other people read your work, and treat their critiques with respect. Only when you’re completely ready, submit. Then begin your next project. We’re less obsessive about book one after we’ve written books two, three, and four.
Julie Musil writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go.
Real life. Our home was almost destroyed by a Southern California wildfire. I wondered, who started the fire? If it was a child, did he know how it affected other people? That was the seed. My son had third degree burns when he was little, and I drew on that experience when creating the love interest, Abigail. We live in the country, and Santa Ana winds and brush fires are a constant worry. Oh, and my husband is a fireman. That helped, too!
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