Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse. Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no other choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed–and so is he.
It’s not just any tree either, it’s the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose. Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life. Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse.
If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.
Top 5 things about the world you created in DEADWOOD that readers don’t know.
In Deadwood I use a “small magic” – a kind of magic that could almost happen. Hannah tries to explain the phenomenon scientifically but it’s still magic. The scientists I write about are real people but not all of it is real science.
I named Hannah Vaughan after a family in a short story I wrote when I was in high school. Those Vaughans were rich and snobby, and these are not-rich and down-to-earth. I like these Vaughans better.
Originally the Spirit Tree did not have a way to communicate. I had a talking squirrel character who acts as its representative. However, my agent at the time really hated the idea of a talking squirrel, so I came up with a way for the tree to communicate through the carvings on its bark. I like that better, although a squirrel character didn’t hurt Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses. Mine was pretty annoying though – most squirrels are.
The Lower Brynwood high school mascot is the Black Squirrel in honor of my departed squirrel character. About 25% of the Eastern gray squirrels in my area are actually black, and Haverford College also uses the nickname Black Squirrels for some sports teams. So the black squirrel helps place the story here.
I wanted a sense of history, of what might have happened on the ground where you stand, to be part of Deadwood. A lot of colonial and federal-era history took place around the Philadelphia area, and I made up some local history for the story.
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ABOUT KELL ANDREWS
Kell Andrews writes nonfiction for adults and fiction for children. A little bit of magic helps with both. Growing up, she spent a lot of time reading, writing, drawing, and looking for treasure in the woods and on the beach. She still does. Kell holds a humanities degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong Philadelphian, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, right next to a park a lot like the one in Deadwood.