My fourth novel will be officially published tomorrow: August 13, 2013. It's called FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK. A Nazi P-38 pistol plays a significant role in the story. If you're reading this blog, you've probably already read the summary, reviews, and my interviews--all of which can be found HERE--so I'm going to write about my grandfather, A.K.A. Pop Pop, A.K.A. Big H.
Pop Pop fought under Patton in the Army. Big H was a fierce patriot. Man, did he love our country. But, despite my asking endless questions, he only told me three stories about WWII. The first involved singing in Parisian bars, passing himself off as a Frank-Sinatra type, and ended with an unnamed--yet "famous"--artist painting my grandfather's portrait on a wall. The second had to do with finding an abandoned champagne factory at the end of the war. And the third was about his firearm.
"What did you do with your gun when the war was over?" I asked him once in my twenties.
"I brought it home with me," he said.
"Can I see it?" I asked him.
"I threw it in the Cooper River when your father was born."
"Your Uncle Pete was old enough to pick it up and I didn't want anyone getting hurt."
"But didn't you think of it as an artifact--something to save?"
His eyes forbid me to ask any further questions, and the image of my grandfather throwing his gun into the local river stuck with me. It made me proud of him, as I imagined he was trying to protect his sons and family from the horrors he saw in action. He was trying to keep them safe. He was doing what he could.
Based on his refusal to speak about his combat experiences and how anxious he became whenever I brought up the subject, I believe my grandfather's war experience was, for the most part,
unfathomably horrific and greatly affected the way my father was raised, which in turn affected how I was raised. War has its own trickle-down system.
My grandfather and I used to have breakfast together when I was in high school. He always prayed before we ate the meal my grandmother cooked--every morning. While holding my hand, Pop Pop asked God to protect and help me through my day. Regardless of your religious views, it was nice to know that someone was pulling for me consistently when I was a hurting teenager. I was pretty mixed up back then, quietly struggling with a lot of intense feelings. Prayer was what my grandfather had to offer, and I was appreciative.
When I was a teenager, there were times when it felt as though Pop Pop was the only person who could actually see me--the real me.
And that was enough to get me through those years. It was enough for
that time and place. My parents tell me that he was a different man
before I was born--a harder man. But he did his best to be what I needed
in my teen years. He fought his way into the future, our future.
He died in 2012 while I was on a plane headed to Michigan. I was accepting an award and promoting BOY21, which Pop Pop read as he was first starting to decline. I'm pretty sure he thought BOY21--a story about a kid who thinks he's from outer space--was weird, but he told me he loved it anyway. He said he was proud of me. "How do you think of so many words?" he often asked.
Above my desk hangs a few pictures of the old man, his glasses, and his WWII dog tags. He watches me while I write.
He'll never read FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK. And I bet he never would have dreamed that in 1948, as he threw his WWII weapon and ammo into the Cooper River, a story was born--one that would be told by a grandson many years in the future, a boy who would love the old man dearly despite what he had experienced during war, a boy who would be able to think up more words than the old man could even fathom.
I can see my grandfather in 1948 standing at the edge of the river with the gun in his hand. He's twenty-seven years old and he's weighing the past against the future. I like to think he throws the gun high into the air so that it rainbows in the moonlight. And I like to believe he experiences a wonderful sense of promise as he bets on the future.
Leonard Peacock was born in that moment--twenty-five years before I entered into this world.
If you read FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK, the above will immediately become relevant. And if my latest novel moves you, please spread the word. People often ask what they can do to help make a book successful. Buying a new copy (or many!) is the best way to support any fiction writer. Every new sale is a vote for a fiction writer's career. Spreading the word also helps tremendously. Glowing five-star Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads reviews really do make a difference.
I thank you for reading. Thanks also for your support. Many of you have saved me a million times already. I won't forget it.
- FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is named an Amazon.com Best YA Book of the Month and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month for Kids & Teens
- FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK makes PW Picks: The Best New Books for the Week of August 12, 2013
School Library Journal gives FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK a *STARRED REVIEW*
- Parade Magazine interviews Q
- On BOOKish, Q picks YA Novels Tackling Tough Subjects