W. S. Childress is a high school English teacher in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Currently, he is writing a Young Adult mystery fiction series of novels set on Cape Cod. Sea Crow Press is excited to be publishing the first book of this series, Ronnie Willow & the Silver Mask, which draws so much on the beauty and community of Cape Cod.
ABOUT THE BOOK
As Ronnie Willow begins her freshman year at a new high school on Cape Cod, she finds a forgotten diary in the hold of an old sailboat. As she and her friends search for clues about the dairy’s mysterious author, they stumble upon the cold case of a missing person. The case quickly warms up and threatens to burn them all as they scramble to solve it before getting scorched themselves. And as Ronnie searches for answers, she also searches for herself and how she fits into her new community.
AN EXCERPT FROM Ronnie Willow & the Silver Mask
School starts in a couple of days. I can’t believe I came back and left her at home with my parents, but I must find closure. I must make things right. I feel terrible, but I couldn’t tell Mom, and I certainly couldn’t tell Dad why I needed to come back.
Her pen hovers over the diary as she considers what to write next. A calico cat walks across the page. “Maceo,” she says, her voice in teacher mode, admonishing the cat as she would her students. She pushes him away and continues to write:
Why didn’t I bring her with me? I don’t know. A feeling. Maybe shame. Maybe I couldn’t look at her – at both of them. Maybe I don’t want her to see her. I just hope she can forgive me because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself.
She reviews her writing and closes the diary, closes the brass clasp, and locks it with a small brass key etched with a distinctive ‘R’. Leaving the diary on the dining room table, she grasps the key and heads out the front door to her bicycle.
Riding the short distance to Kent Yacht Club, she turns onto a private road filled with potholes. At least it’s paved now, she thinks. At the end of the road, an old wooden boathouse sits between two ancient red cedars, flanked on one side by rows of bathhouses and on the other by a small beach lined with sailboats, a swing set, and a sandbox.
The barn doors of the boathouse are locked, so she walks down the dock to the water. She sits between two skiffs and places her bare feet in the cool waters. Across the harbor she sees Sandy Neck – the lighthouse, the old cabins, the rolling dunes, and the green grasses. It’s always a postcard here, she thinks. If only she could freeze time the way this place does, or better yet if only she could go back and make things right. A gust of wind hits, rocking the dock and pushing her back. She opens her hand and takes one last look at the key.
“I know, Seth,” she whispers. “I know.” She stands and throws the key as far as she can, watching as it hits the water and is swept away by the swift currents of the Harbor.
This is the third book W.S. Childress has written, but it is his first Young Adult novel. He is the Chair of the English department in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Ronnie Willow & the Silver Mask is set in a fictional town loosely based on Sandwich and Barnstable.