Kersten Hamilton and the Book of Half a Lifetime

I’m very pleased today to feature a long time friend of mine.

Kersten and I have critiqued each other’s work, we’ve gone on writing retreats together, attended conferences, and enjoyed group meet-ups with other local authors over the years. Kersten Hamilton is an incredibly talented writer, deep thinker, and a selfless, giving person.

Here at From the Mixed up Files, we’re excited to show off the gorgeous cover for her middle-grade novel, DAYS OF THE DEAD, which will launch into the world this coming summer.

Enjoy a little bit about Kersten’s inspiration and an excerpt from the novel.

~Kimberley Griffiths Little, one of your MUF’s authors and bloggers~

From Kersten Hamilton:

“When I first saw the art created by Merce Lopez  for the cover of Days of the Dead I wanted to shout, “LOOK AT THIS! IT IS THE BEST COVER EVER!!!” because Merce had captured the magic and mystery at the heart of my story. Having a cover means the book is real! It is almost here!

Some books take half a lifetime to write. Days of the Dead is one of those books. I can’t remember when the story started to grow in me. When I was six, and my mother left? When I was a teen sitting in a chill of a lava tube, breathing in darkness so deep it was almost alive?  The day my heart broke so badly I thought I would die. I know the roots of this story reach back through that day. But the story took years of drafts and re-writes to form.

Slowly, it settled into a time: the Days of the Dead, when the border separating the living from the dead grows thin.  And a place, Puerta de la Luna, where strange things happen. Things that science isn’t big enough to explain. And a girl, Glorieta Magdalena Davis y Espinosa, whose choices would destroy her family – and whose courage would make it whole again.

Days of the Dead will be coming from Sky Pony Press this August of 2018, but I can’t wait one minute longer to introduce Glorieta. I hope she will find a lot of friends and help them pick themselves back up when they have made a terrible mistake.”

LOOK AT THIS STUNNING COVER!

And here’s Glorieta in her own words:

“Every bowl of Alpha-Bits starts out with hundreds of words. But the power is in the last spoonful.

“Dios mio, Magdalena!” Mamá’d said as she’d pointed to my spoon, “Your spoon says ‘libros’. Books!’ Now, you choose. If you swallow it down, then you will learn about books!” I swallowed it, and that year I’d been the first kid in class who learned to read. I learned about big books, thick books, their smell, their feel, the letters gathering into words and the words into stories. Mamá and I read together every night, in English and in español, Spanish.

In third grade I’d had to find the word in my Alpha-Bits myself. I used an extra big spoon, one that could fit all of the letters of mother, if Mamá wasn’t enough. Or even Mamá, come home.

The word had been hoggs. I’d known that was too many ‘gees’ for a real word. I’d swallowed it anyway, and cried because I thought my Mamá’s magic had gone away with her.

Then, one month into the school year, a new editor for the Epoch Rattler came to my school to interview me about a poem I’d written for the paper. His name was Hogg. That hadn’t made me feel any better. You can’t knock off one letter and say it’s close enough. That’s not magic. It’s cheating.

But just after Christmas my teacher Miss Dotson, who’d met Mr. Herbert Hogg the day he interviewed me, married him and became Mrs. Hogg. Two Hoggs. Pieces fitting together. The magic worked.

I shook the box, and something rattled inside.

I got a bowl, and turned the box upside down. Letter pieces and cereal powder rained out. I poured in some milk, and three perfect letters bobbed to the surface.

“Are you looking for a word in your Alpha-Bits? Seriously?” Lilith was leaning over my shoulder.

“Go away.”

Lilith laughed. As she walked across the room and picked up the phone again, one more letter struggled to the surface of the sludge. I stared at the bowl. It couldn’t be right.

I’d wanted the magic to help me keep my promise to Mamá. I hadn’t wanted this.

Now you choose, Glorieta…

“We’re on hold, B,” Lilith said into the phone. “I’ve got to work out something with my stupid step-tard first. See you at school.”

Lilith saw me still staring at the bowl and leaned over to see what I was looking at.

“O.D.I.O.?” She laughed. “That isn’t even a word, loser.”

It was a word. Lilith just didn’t know it because she couldn’t speak español.

You choose, Glorieta.

If it had been about anyone else, it would have been wrong. But I knew it wasn’t about anyone else. It was about Lilith. Somehow she had gotten in where she didn’t belong and messed everything up. Even the magic.

I could feel her breathing on the back of my neck as I scooped the word onto my spoon and lifted it to my mouth. I would learn it like I’d learned to read, learn the pieces and the parts and how they fit together and it would keep Lilith away from me.

Lilith took a step back, and I couldn’t feel her breath anymore. It was working already.

Shivers raced up my spine as I chewed.

Odio. Hate.

My magic word for the sixth grade.”

Thank you for letting me share, Mixed-Up Files!

Kersten Hamilton

Website: www.kerstenhamilton.com

Pre-order DAYS OF THE DEAD

Email: Kersten@kerstenhamilton.com

Kimberley Little

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