Last spring, my first-ever audiobook happened. It was a perfect-storm project where the ideal narrator submitted a random audition for a novella she deep-down wanted to land much more than she cared to admit at the time, whose reading blew away the anxious author who fretted that his vision be dramatized by a kindred spirit who “got it” (and knew that boy-howdy did she!). And they were backed by a supportive publisher making their first ventures into audiobook and who knew they had something special.
Today I’m turning the spotlight on R.S. Craig, or as I know him. Steve, the leader of the Avon Writer’s Group. I’ve been associated with the group for a few years, which cultivates a supportive. can-do attitude toward all its members, encouraging members to always move forward and keep on writing, because the process matters.
I’m pleased that Steve has taken that brave first step and put Children with White Knuckles out there. The novel is terrific. Though it reads as a fairly standard literary drama, there’s a sense of dread throughout, giving it a Gothic undertone for a satisfying finish. It presents an understated foreboding from the perspective of of an elderly couple who sense that something is being kept from them by members of their own family. It’s a slow burn that really catches on fire! Check it out.
Here’s an excerpt.
Sara spent the rest of the day in the back yard under the elm tree near the garden with Sparky lying in her lap. I thought I could hear him whimper as Sara petted him and whispered in his ear and hugged him. She came in for supper, helped Jenny with the dishes again, took a bath and came into the living room. She bent down, kissed me on the forehead and smiled. “Thank you for a wonderful day, Grandpa.”
I was thunderstruck. I had just received an unsolicited kiss from Sara, dear sweet little Sara Christine. I reached up and grabbed her shoulders. “Oh no Sara, thank you for a wonderful day and for getting my granddaughter back for me. God love you honey, Grandma and I love you so much.” I gazed into her eyes as she stood up and looked back at me with a big smile across her face. It was a precious moment that I relished as I watched Sara turn away. She walked to her room to watch TV for the rest of the evening, and I thought I actually heard her whistle as she went down the hall.
“Whatever spell has come over her, I sure hope it lasts,” said Jenny.
I said nothing. An uneasy feeling was beginning to creep up on me and I couldn’t figure out what it was about. I took a shower and came back into the family room. Jenny had gone down the hall to the office to spend time on the computer.
I walked in and asked her if she had seen Sparky.
She told me, “He’s with Sara.”
I watched a Saturday night movie and went to bed around 11:00. I was so tired and sleepy but I still had an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake or reason out. I was missing something. There was something I was supposed to worry about. What was it? I stared at the ceiling and tried to think of what was wrong. I could think of nothing. I closed my eyes, willed myself to go to sleep, opened my eyes and glanced at the digital clock on the dresser—12:20. I was so tired and so sleepy. Why wouldn’t sleep come?
There was something more important than sleep that night; and it came as a thunderclap of remembering about something Leslie Sawyer had told me about dogs and how they can smell everything from heart attacks and seizures to fear and sadness. But Sara wasn’t sad; she was happy, more than happy, she was…what? There had to be another piece to the puzzle. What was it? Jenny and I would soon learn that Sara’s happy face and euphoria had blinded us to a terrible plan that Sara was about to carry out at that very instant.