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Welcome to the world of unicorns.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Teen Novel About Bullying Every High School Kid Should Read.

One of the best teen books I’ve read in a long time is Stuart West’s Tex the Witch Boy. I skipped over it many a time in searching for good books while scouring the Muse It Up Publishing site, thinking, “Nah, the guy on the cover looks too cool for me.” Double wrong. I finally bought it and read it, and it was so good I wanted the whole world to be put on hold while I read it. And so I contacted Mr. West, and began a friendship with an author that I hope will last a long time. Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of Stuart West’s ebooks.

Stuart, first of all, welcome to my blog. It is a real pleasure having you here. Could you please tell us a bit about Tex the Witch Boy?

Hey, thanks so much for having me here, Suzanne! And stop, already, with the nice talk! You’re gonna’ make me blush like a school boy.

Okay, first of all, I hear you about my cover model. He’s Way Too Cool to be Tex. Then again if I slapped myself on the cover, I’d be destined to never, ever, ever sell a single book. For you see, Tex is me. Was me. Except, um, I’m not a witch. Tex is an average kid, practically excelling at being average and more than content to remain that way. He’s reasonably bright, is incredibly awkward in certain situations, has poor to no control over his inner censor (yikes. I still have problems with mine!), is confused about his feelings for his friend, Olivia, and, sadly, is bullied. Oh, and he’s just found out he’s a witch, inheriting powers from his late mother.
The Tex, The Witch Boy series are all YA paranormal, comedic, dramatic, murder mystery, romance, thrillers…whew. And they all deal with current issues teens face. I hope I did teens and their problems justice. My high school scars still feel as fresh as they did way back in…cough, coughity, coughy, cough.

You know, the thing that really stood out about your book was that it’s based on real bullying that actually happened, and really disturbing bullying. I was shocked anyone could get away with that.

Yep, get away with it they did, Suzanne. See, like Tex, for a lot of us in high school, bullying was accepted as part of life you just had to deal with. It became almost commonplace. Which is sad. No one should have to live their life fearing for their health and safety. But we did, and alas, kids are still doing it. A friend of mine from high school still doesn’t have the full usage of his hand because of what happened to him (detailed in the first book).
I wrote the first book to basically exorcise some high school demons. Not only was it cathartic, but I enjoyed it and didn’t want to put my characters to bed yet. Hence the trilogy (plus Elspeth spin-off).

You know if I can reach just a smattering of kids with these books, it’d be worth it. I’d love to spread my message that it’s okay to be different and you’re not alone, don’t give up hope. Stay positive; wave your freak flag high. And don’t take bullying. That’s another area Tex and I differed. I accepted bullying, didn’t really know any better. No, that’s a lie. I did know better but was too afraid to do anything about it. But Tex does something about it. And if any bullied kids should happen to read this, stand up! Don’t take it. Find a sympathetic adult ear. This whole hallway cred deal about not ratting on people is ridiculous. Okay, not only am I stepping off my soap-box, but I’m a’gonna’ kick it over like a rock star.

I was bullied when I was in grade nine. It was truly one of the worst events of my life, and so life-altering. For years, I was really distrustful of women because of what had happened back then. Consequently, for about 15 years, most of my friends were guys. And it wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I rediscovered how fun it was to hang out with a bunch of girls.

Gah! Suzanne, you’re like my daughter. She, too, was bullied in high school. By girls. Sure, she didn’t fear for her life, but the mental cruelties inflicted upon her were nearly as torturous for me to watch. This is probably why she has mostly guy friends (although I can’t impress upon her enough that most of these guy “friends” are interested in more…but I digress, a topic for another novel).

I was really surprised by the ending. I would never have suspected who was murdering the jocks.

Thanks, Suzanne. I actually attempted a bit of “Hitchcockery” near the end, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Now tell us about your second novel. 

Hey, if you thought the killer of Tex, The Witch Boy was hard to figure out, just wait until you read Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia!

This book finds Tex going “undercover” in a suburban gang to save a life. It’s complicated (as Tex’s life generally is). But this book, too, is based on a real incident that occurred at my high school several years ago. Believe it or not, for all the ridiculousness of these suburban would be “gangsta’s,” they actually exist. One more kid died for it at my school several years ago. The book’s about the random and very frightening and all too real violence kids live with today. It’s also about identity.

And did I mention it’s a comedic romantic farce involving love quadrangles, gender mix-ups and love-spells gone bad?

And the book introduces my fan-fave character, Elspeth (who threatened to kick my butt if I didn’t give her her own spin-off book which will be out next Summer). I don’t want to say too much about her because she’s a mystery character. But y’all read the second book, then we’ll talk. She gives my characters, Olivia and Mickey, a run for the the money.

Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia Blurb: 

Tex McKenna’s junior year of high school is just as bad as his sophomore year. Maybe worse. Olivia’s dumped him.  He's caught up between two warring gangs and gone “undercover” with the Modern Gangstas to unmask a murderer.  All this poor Witch Boy and supernatural trouble magnet wants to do is end the school year alive.  And maybe find out who the mysterious punker girl is and how she knows all his secrets.

And I understand you have a third coming soon. Please share.

Yes, indeedy, Suzanne, why thank you very much for asking! Tex And The God Squad is the third and final book in the trilogy and is out in December! It’s also my most ambitious tale in terms of themes, action, set-pieces and suspense. 

And the bad guys this time? Well, they’re based on the Westboro Baptist Church. I couldn’t think of anyone more evil than these guys. They’re thinly disguised as the “Clarendon Baptist Church” but we all know who they are. Besides, since I’m a Kansan and the WBC is an unfortunate by-product of Kansas, I sorta’ felt I needed to make apologies.
Well, here, let my blurb do the talking:

Richard “Tex” McKenna's graduating high school. Too bad he doesn't have a clue what comes next.  There's no time to think now, either. Being a male witch makes Tex a ginormous supernatural trouble magnet.  There's an angry witch in pursuit and a maniac in a Grim Reaper's costume on the loose.  Why did the cheerleader really kill herself?  Is the heinous Clarendon Baptist Church a front for something more sinister?  Elspeth’s back, too, trouble trailing on her Doc Martin heels. If Tex and his friends don't figure it out soon, Tex won't have to worry about life after high school.  

Alright, now where can readers buy the first two of your series. Personally, I think Tex the Witch Boy is a must read for any teen boy. I think it should be in every school library and that it should be mandatory reading.

Tex, The Witch Boy: http://www.amazon.com/Tex-The-Witch-Boy-ebook/dp/B00B3U5OWU/ref=la_B00B419X5C_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383619918&sr=1-2

Tex, The Witch Boy Super Cool Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6YA8yjNVMc

Well thank you, Stuart. It has been very fascinating. Readers leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of one of Stuart West’s novels.


  1. I hope you can get the message out, Stuart. Sounds like a great plot and a couple of great covers. Best wishes!

  2. Great blog, but you make a wonderful hostess Suzanne.
    It sounds like an interesting read, Stuart. I must add it to my list.
    Heather G - Natasha's Dream
    the saga continues with Natasha's Diary

    1. Howdy and thank you, ladies. As writers, you both well know it is hard to get our messages out there. But we keep trying! Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Great interview, Suzanne and Stuart! And I loved Tex, Stuart. I look forward to reading Gangs.

    1. Thanks Kai! I'm looking forward to your awesome-sounding King Of Bad!

  4. This was an important book to write. Good luck, Stuart on it and your other books as well. Great interview both of you.

    Susan Bernhardt
    The Ginseng Conspiracy coming 1/14

    1. Thanks Susan and thank you very much Suzanne for hosting me here!

  5. I agree, Susan. I hope those nasties who were the bullies in his real life see it and feel ashamed.

    1. Don't be daft, Suzanne! Everyone knows bullies can't read!

  6. Stuart,
    You don't need to bother getting up on any soapbox -- you did a great job subtly conveying your message via Tex's story.
    l could lecture to my kids till I'm blue in the face, and it won't hit the spot like a good story that seeps in past the defenses and arouses their natural sensitivity.

    Good luck to you and Tex!

    1. Oh, Loren, thank you so much! I do think if kids would read the book, it'd speak to them. I know it's the type of book I wished had been around when I was one of the "invisible people." But these kids today! Bah! Don't even read! (Okay, now I'm wearing my grumpy old man sweater with socks pulled up to my knees).