Burn Baby Burn Baby, In the Margins, Kevin Craig, Writing Life

Burn Baby Burn Baby Makes the IN THE MARGINS BOOK AWARDS LIST!

I think the absolute most important thing about writing is to have a reason for writing, to have a goal. When it comes to novel writing, my goal from the very beginning has been to put books that may make a difference into the hands of troubled and marginalized teens. I always imagine myself writing the book that would have saved me when I was a teenager. I know that probably sounds naive and whimsical and fanciful, but there you have it. My goal as a novelist. Save people from themselves. Save teens from the dark ugly underbelly of the world. No biggie, right?

When I recently received notification from LIBRARY SERVICES FOR YOUTH IN CUSTODY that my novel BURN BABY BURN BABY had made their 2016 IN THE MARGINS BOOK AWARDS LIST I was beyond elated. It felt like someone was listening to my goal, to my reason for putting words down on paper. The burden I feel to write books that would have been a lifesaver in my own life is, at times, overwhelming. I’m always afraid that I’m not doing a good enough job…that I’m missing the mark on what it is I’m aspiring to do. Just having this book on this list is a game changer for me. It’s the affirmation I needed all along. I’m doing something right.

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Burn Baby Burn Baby – Part of the 2016 IN THE MARGINS BOOK AWARDS LIST

It’s incredibly difficult to write a young adult ISSUE book and stay away from coming off as too preachy and message oriented. There’s a degree of finesse in simply telling a good story when it involves the difficult social issues facing teens today. You don’t want to beat your readers over the head with advice and messages. You just want to entertain them. What this List recognition does for me is that it tells me I might have struck the proper balance. In this book, anyway. I’m extremely grateful to be included in such a remarkable list. That it comes from an organization that works specifically with troubled youth makes it all the more amazing to me. I’m somehow reaching my target audience.

My profound appreciation and gratitude goes out to the entire committee responsible for assembling the 2016 IN THE MARGINS Book Awards List:

The 2016 Committee members are:

  • Sabrina Carnesi, School Librarian, Crittenden Middle School, VA
  • Amy Cheney, District Library Manager, Oakland Unified School District, CA
  • Dale Clark, Teacher-Librarian, Fraser Park Secondary, Burnaby Youth Custody Services, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • Joe Coyle, Project Coordinator, Mix IT Up!, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Marvin DeBose Sr., Library Supervisor, Free Library of Philadelphia, PA
  • Lisa Goldstein, Division Manager, Central Youth Wing, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
  • Sian Marshall, Head of Teen Services, Oxford Public Library, Oxford Michigan
  • Maggie Novario, Teen Librarian, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, WA
  • Kerry Sutherland, Youth Services Librarian, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH

In the Margins is committed to promoting and highlighting diverse books and voices that have been in the margins. ITM strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three.   

Here’s the synopsis of Burn Baby Burn Baby:

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago.

Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars.

If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions.

Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted.

Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

Burn Baby is a book about bullying as much as it’s a book about a teen overcoming a traumatic event in his past and making amends with himself and his identity. It’s about the main character, Francis Fripp, finally seeing value in himself and breaking through to become more than the sum of his trauma and the resulting scars attributed to it.

You can order BURN BABY BURN BABY through any bookstore. You can also purchase it online through the following links:

AMAZON.COM

BARNES AND NOBLE

CHAPTERS INDIGO

BOOK DEPOSITORY

BURN BABY BURN BABY is published by Curiosity Quills Press in the United States.

You can read the full 2016 OFFICIAL IN THE MARGINS BOOK AWARDS LIST HERE.

You can read reviews for Burn Baby at GOODREADS

Burn Baby Burn Baby, Half Dead And Fully Broken, Kevin Craig, Sebastian's Poet, Summer on Fire, The Reasons

5 Guys In Between Days – Boys Don’t Cry

After yesterday’s debacle here, I think I’m going to review a few of my characters. I really feel yesterday’s blog post was a train wreck. I started and restarted it too many times to count. In honesty, it took me three days of trying. In the end, I just said the hell with it and settled on the latest sloppy version.

Today, I thought I would introduce you to 5 of my characters. These introductions should serve as a way of displaying the kind of fiction I write. I will have one from each of my five published novels…each broken, and each irrevocably hopeful.

There are several soundtracks to my life. The one that runs the deepest, I have to admit, is all The Cure. They have been my favourite obsession since about 1980. Contrary to what those on the outside of The Cure universe believe, I have always found their lyrics to be inspiring and uplifting. Robert Smith chose to dip into the morass of ennui and sadness as a way to dredge those feelings up into the light.

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“Happy the man with the face that smiles” ~ Robert Smith of The Cure

I always feel better after listening to The Cure. They always had something for every mood and every moment. From the angsty relationship themed Boys Don’t Cry, to the manic chasing train driven punk wig-out of 10:15 Saturday Night, to the zany spirited uplifting Mint Car.

The sun is up
I’m so happy I could scream!
And there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be
Than here with you
It’s perfect
It’s all I ever wanted
I almost can’t believe that it’s for real

I really don’t think it gets any better than this
Vanilla smile
And a gorgeous strawberry kiss!
Birds sing we swing
Clouds drift by and everything is like a dream
It’s everything I wished

Those are not Gothic kill-me now depressed angst-driven suicidal lyrics. The Cure might be one of the most misunderstood bands of their time. There were times in my life when they were the place from which I derived my joy. When you struggle with issues, you sometimes need to trick yourself out of your bed in the morning. When I was a teenager, The Cure were there to dig me up out of my pain. They’re the happiest band I know. And all I ever heard in the media about them were slit-my-wrist jokes about how sorrowful and depressed their stuff was. So not the case. Many things saved me, but nothing ever saved teen me like The Cure saved me.

Oh wait! 5 Characters. Right! I’m so easily distracted these days.

  1. ZACH CARSON – summeronfire SUMMER ON FIRE – Zach appears in my first novel, Summer on Fire. He is the friend who outwardly appears to be the most together. But he is also, in a way, the weakest link. Picture Wil Wheaton’s Gordie Lachance. He’s the hero of the story, but he is nothing like the hero of the story. Everybody knows the guy you want to be when you watch the movie Stand By Me is Chris Chambers…the coolest of the cool (played by River Phoenix). Even though Chris later dies, he’s the ultimate hero of that story. My Chris Chambers in this story is Jeff Barsell. I’m referencing Stand By Me here because it is mentioned in quite a few of the reviews for this book. Zach was broken in the most subtle way of all of my main characters. He wants to please everyone and he struggles with his moral compass. He wants to do the right thing but he also wants to remain loyal to his friends. Jeff Barsell is the real broken hero of this story. Jeff has a brother who bullies him and a father who beats him. He adores his mother. He knows that the trouble he’s gotten himself into could finish the job of breaking her…a job his father has been chiseling away at for years. When the boys accidentally set a barn on fire, the stage is set for a much darker revelation. The house beside the barn goes up in flames…and with it, the body of the old man who lived there. From there, we get to see the mettle of these three boys as they attempt to wiggle out of their predicament.
  2. SEBASTIAN NELSON –  Sebastian's Poet SEBASTIAN’S POET – Sebastian Nelson is perhaps my favourite of all the characters I’ve ever created. He’s a boy who is forced to grow up at an all too young age. When folksinger Teal Landen appears on the couch one morning after a bohemian party at Sebby’s place, he quickly forms a bond with the boy. Sebastian comes from a broken family. He’s left with his mentally ill father after his mother takes off to her homeland of Montreal. With a father who can’t even look after himself–a father who is silently dealing with deep dark issues that threaten to kill him–Sebastian becomes the number one caregiver to his younger brother Renee. Teal becomes his saviour, but the distance between them is vast as Teal attempts to hide a truth from the young boy who worships him. This one takes place in The Beaches in Toronto…in the 1970s. It’s all Leonard Cohen meets James at 15. Sebastian is abused, neglected, and without a childhood to speak of. He is someone who should not be able to get up…but getting up is all he ever wants to do.
  3. TOBIAS REASON –  The+Reasons THE REASONS – Reason is the family name of the narrators in this one. The narration flips from chapter to chapter, from Tobias Reason to Maggie Reason. This is an entirely broken family. Maggie is insane. Her secret is so completely buried, she herself doesn’t even know what it is. But when she tosses her newly inherited house at Tobias, just to get rid of it, Tobias discovers the deepest darkest thing about a family so broken they might never be saved. Tobias’s older sister dies in chapter one…and on the surface this may appear to be the thing that breaks Maggie. But all along, there are hints that she was broken long before Deja died on her road-trip to the mountains she would never see. Maggie has no time for her youngest daughter, Annabel…so it falls to Tobias to raise her. But Annabel may in fact hold the key to everything that is broken. Tobias is abused, neglected, and without a childhood to speak of. But he is a character on a mission…he wants to save his mother, and in the process he wants to save his family. He will do anything to make this happen.
  4. FRANCIS FRIPP – burn-baby-burn-1000.jpeg BURN BABY BURN BABY – Francis Fripp’s last name is a nod to mention—He has the last name Fripp as an homage of sorts to Grady Tripp from Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys. This novel marks the onward march of my own courage. I wanted to go deeper with this one, explore the darkness that teens experience on a deeper level. Francis is bullied relentlessly at school. His tormentor, Brandon Hayley, won’t be happy until he sees Francis completely destroyed. But Francis was broken before Brandon ever got to him. Francis was mutilated by his abusive father, who burned half of Francis’s body in a murderous rage. As broken as Francis is–both inwardly and outwardly–he has a deep love of life. You can just glimpse it if you look past the angst and turmoil he lives with every day. He loves his little brothers Paul and Simon like mad. Sure, he calls them, collectively, Paul Simon…but he does this in love. He sees only his burns when he tries to assemble a picture of who he is as a person. But the new girl at school might see more than that. It’s up to Francis to allow her to do so. His walls are so high, he doesn’t know how to take them down. Francis is abused, neglected, and without a childhood to speak of. But Francis wants to soar. And his unflinching champion, Trig, will do anything to see that he does so.
  5. CARTER COLBY – cover2500 HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN – Carter is a twin. He’s the loser mentally unstable half of the Colby twins. His brother, inexplicably, is the popular All-American boy. But in chapter one, Marcus Colby dies in a motorcycle accident on the way to school.Carter was a passenger on the bike and becomes even more screwed up when he has to survive such a traumatic experience. Losing his twin is the beginning of the horror, but he quickly learns that sharing a face with the most popular dead boy in school is not an easy task. People who never saw him when Marcus was alive now don’t want to see him. Marcus becomes dead Marcus in this story…as he begins to visit Carter on a regular basis. He has unfinished work and he needs Carter’s help to see it through. The ghost of Marcus is just as fabulous and put together as the living Marcus was. While Carter attempts to pick himself up from the wreck of his life, he works with Marcus to help make things right. He also unexpectedly falls in love with Marcus’s girlfriend, Melanie, and forms an unexpected friendship with the school jock, Justin Dewar, who also happens to be the victim from the truck involved in the accident that killed Marcus. Carter is broken, but in different ways than usual. He has no self-esteem. He lives in the shadow of greatness and can’t manage to get out from under it. He hates himself. But he finds hope in Melanie…and in the possibility of being made more whole.

I brought up THE CURE at the beginning of this post because I wanted to draw a similarity between their music and my novels. On the surface, all of my stuff is morose, sad, broken, depressed, angsty, and filled with ennui. But it’s also, like The Cure, filled with hope and joy. Or, at least, I hope it is. I always make an effort to put a little sunshine in my work. Because all things broken are not ONLY broken. My favourite quote, which is also the epigraph in my novel Sebastian’s Poet, alludes to this. From Leonard Cohen’s ANTHEM…

THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING…THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN.

In all ugliness, there is beauty. In all sadness, there is joy. This is what I attempt to write in my novels. I love to see the crack…because without it the beauty would not get in.

CLICK ON THE NAMES BELOW TO VISIT THE AMAZON PAGE FOR ITS RELATED NOVEL:

  1. Zach Carson
  2. Sebastian Nelson
  3. Tobias Reason
  4. Francis Fripp
  5. Carter Colby

Get HAPPY:

Burn Baby Burn Baby, Kevin Craig

Trig Speaks Up! Bonus Burn Baby Burn Baby Material!

BURN BABY BURN BABY has been out for almost a year now! During last year’s blog tour I wrote this post AS Trig… The narrator’s best friend. Here it is copied in full here. TRIG SPEAKS!

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Hey. Trig here. I’m the best friend guy from Burn Baby Burn Baby. First off, my actual name is Zach Triggs. I just read Francis’s story. He only used my real name, like, one frigging time in the entire story. I know it wasn’t my story, or anything…but still. Holy. I guess it’s okay though, considering even the teachers call me Trig. My real name doesn’t even register. Okay, so he’s off the hook.

I’m not here to complain about that. I just…I have so many feels about what I just read. Francis is my boy, dude. I would kill for him. Like, literally kill you dead kill for him. And not just because of what his brutal non-human ‘rent did to him, either. We were tight long before his father went psycho and set him on fire. Seeing him go through that shit, though…it changed me.

Truth? I sometimes think about those days, back when he lived in the hospital going through all those grafts and operations, and I just sit and bawl like a baby.

I never tell Francis about that, though. Hell, I don’t even tell my girl about those times. Georgia and I are soul mates. We’re together forever, but I try not to talk to her about France. I just have a never let them see you crylife policy. It’s hard sometimes, when I think of the hell my boy Francis has been through. So I save my crying for when I’m home alone.

Everything Francis talked about in his story was the truth. Man, he laid out his heart. He goes on and on–and on and on–about how he’s gonna take me with him to the Oscars when he goes to accept his first award for Best Director. But for real, maybe he could write the stories that get made into movies. With a little practice, you never know…I might get to go to the Oscars one day for real.

What I really wanted to say is that Francis was way too hard on himself in his story. When you read it, try to remember that in real life we don’t see all the emo stuff. His inner dialogue is clearly pretty heavy. I didn’t know he was so negative, to tell you the truth. In real life he’s more guarded about the stuff that hurts him. It kind of tears my heart open to know he’s in such turmoil all the time. He really should cut himself some slack. He’s a way cool dude. I love him like a brother.

Oh. Speaking of brothers. Please don’t think Francis is a douchenozzle for all the stuff he said about Paul Simon. I think he really comes off kind of bad there. But I can tell you firsthand, those boys are the sun for him. He loves them like mad crazy. You remember the part in the story where he made a mental note to pick up glow in the dark stars for Paul and Simon? Yeah. We spent a day looking for those damn things. A day! I told him we should just take the ones from his ceiling and put them on their ceiling. Dude, I thought he was going to cry. Apparently Seventeen-year-old boys still need the universe above them while they fall asleep at night.  He is such a little boy.

Before I go, just two more things. Number one…I am not an Anger Management poster child. I don’t know what Francis was talking about. I’m not this ready-to-blow-volcano-of-hostility. If anything, you can just consider me passionate. Yeah, passionate…I’d be happy with that. Number two…the Shakespeare stuff. I’m guessing you probably want to know how I feel about that? It really hurt my feelings. A lot. You know a guy your whole life and you think you know everything about him until he starts quoting every damn word Shakespeare ever wrote. I was like, what the hell? But I guess I’m over it. So we don’t tell each other everything. Maybe he’ll keep writing his story and I’ll find out the things he doesn’t tell me about that way.

Anyway, Francis. He’s my best friend. My boy. If you haven’t checked out Burn Baby Burn Baby yet, you should. Not like I’ll beat the crap out of you if you don’t or anything. Like I said, I’m not as hostile as he makes me out to be. He’s just a great guy. I think you’ll like what he has to say. Trig out.

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You can visit my author page on Amazon to read the first couple chapters of BURN BABY BURN BABY! Download it today! Or order the paperback wherever books are sold.

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A Sure-Fire List to Help Motivate Your Inner Writer Into Actually Writing! Follow This List Carefully and You Will Be Writing Again!

Have I done a list lately? I should keep a list of the lists I list. Or is that list the lists I keep?

In a writing slump? Finding it hard to finish that Great Canadian (American, Armenian or otherwise) Novel? Trying to dedicate more time to writing this year because you’re one of those people who makes New Year Resolutions? Follow this list to a tee and you should find yourself back on the writing wagon. If you’re already on the writing wagon and you follow this list, you will find yourself even more connected to your writing. My point? Follow this list and you will write more.

The questionnaire
Do not skip items on this list. Follow it closely, or there is no hope for you. If you falter, you might go gently into the night and get lost forever in the vast vacuous land of NOT WRITING. Proceed with caution and a willingness to adapt yourself to the points made on the upcoming list you are about to read…

How to Write When You’re Not Feeling Writerly (OR When You’re Feeling Stabby and Murderous Towards Words, How Do You Embrace Them and Make Them Work in Your Favour…Even Though You Hate Them)


  1. Turn OFF the social media and Click the wifi to OFF. I know it’s impossible to imagine, but these things are distractions…killers of the imagination, even while they are stimulating it. If you follow this first item in this list, you will significantly increase your outflow of words. The increase could quite possibly be tenfold.
  2. See the first item in this list. Quite frankly, if you got this far in the list you aren’t following the steps properly.
  3. ARE YOU STILL HERE. Stop reading this. Turn off the internet and write.
  4. Don’t make me yell at you. SIT. WRITE. Open only one window…whatever program it is you use to write with.
  5. I’m gonna keep this list short and to the point. Only 5 items. Item 5 is CLOSE THIS WINDOW. SIT. WRITE. <<This advice works if you’re a beginner writer, or if you’re someone like that up-and-comer Stephen King…who has a couple books under his belt.

If you’re still here, clearly you’re not heeding my warnings. If you’d rather read than write, click on the image below to get yourself over to GOODREADS to enter to win a paperback copy of my latest novel, BURN BABY BURN BABY. The contest ends JANUARY 11, 2015!

goodreads

If you’re on INSTAGRAM, follow the steps in the picture below to win a paperback copy of BURN BABY BURN BABY in the INSTAGRAM contest! The easiest way to enter this one would be to go to Instagram and repost this image from my account. Instagram is sometimes tricky with resizing, etc.

Follow the Directions in this image to enter to win a paperback of Burn Baby Burn Baby on Instagram!
Follow the Directions in this image to enter to win a paperback of Burn Baby Burn Baby on Instagram!

Okay…now there is still a chance for you. Turn it all off. SIT. WRITE. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. No magical equation. No tricks or gimmicks. To write more all you need to do is write more. One word in front of the other without the everyday distractions that weigh you down and mess with your creativity and drive. SIT. WRITE.