Hello, all. Summer is apparently just about over? I spent most of it writing like mad, although I did get a nice break at the end visiting family up in Long Island. Now my eldest has gone off to college to seek new adventures, and even though he was never a particularly talkative fellow, the house is somehow seems quieter, and perhaps a bit chillier. He and I did play a few rounds on Yu-gi-oh Master Duel last Sunday, so at least we still have that. And one match, I nearly beat him!
Anyway, the second GI Joe book is mostly finished. These books are always such fun. Like playing in someone else's toy box for a bit. Speaking of, the good folks at Hasbro are currently looking it over. Once they've given us the stamp of approval, we can start announcing things like titles and covers. After that I'll need to put together my proposal for the third and final volume for approval.
Right now I'm putting the finishing touches on my next Scholastic horror novel after The Ghost of Drowned Meadow. It's been a real gut punch of a book, I must say. I'm looking forward to sharing more about it, but that's a ways off.
So let's focus on what I can talk about! Like this wonderful review of The Wizard of Eventide from Booklist. Here's a brief excerpt:
"a thrilling conclusion to this chapter of Skovron’s tales (after The Queen of Izmoroz, 2021). The scale of the story grows from the struggles of human civilization to battles fought by the divine, while leaving space for purely human joy, which suits the arc of the trilogy admirably."
Isn't that nice?
Now let's turn our attention to my next release, The Ghost of Drowned Meadow. This book marks my first official horror novel (unless you count my YA paranormal novels, Misfit and Man Made Boy, which I kinda do because they were about demons and monsters, and a whole lot of horrific things happen in them).
The Ghost of Drowned Meadow is set in Port Jefferson, Long Island, which is not far from Northport, where I have spent a great deal of time throughout my life, and where my aunt and uncle reside to this day. There is also one chapter that takes place in Yaphank, which is where the Nazi indoctrination camp was located in the 1930's. I visited both places, of course, talked to a bunch of folks and took a lot of pictures. And it was all tremendously helpful in writing the book. But I find that there's usually one thing, an image or a song, that becomes the focal point of each book I write. And for this book, it was an old newspaper image:
What you are looking at here is a photograph of American children at Camp Siegfried in Yaphank performing the Nazi salute. The camp was run by the German American Bund, an organization that spread across the US during the 1930s. It's aim was to prepare its members to overthrow the US democratic government and turn the country into a fascist dictatorship under the rule of Adolph Hitler.
Camp Siegfried was but a small part of this much larger effort, and often in history books about the organization, it rarely gets more than a page or so. That wasn't enough to hang a book on, so most of my research came from primary sources, such as PDF scans from the NYS Historic Newspaper Archives, photos from the NYC Department of Records and Information, and transcripts of the Dies Committee reports when Congress finally began investigating the German American Bund in the late 1930's. It was a lot of information to process, and I'd like to talk about some other aspects in a different newsletter. But for now, I want to come back to this image of children shouting "Heil Hitler!" in Long Island. These children could only speak German at the camp, they were indoctrinated into Nazi ideology and beaten if they did not conform to it. They were were forced into manual labor, refused vital health care that led to the death of at least one child, and other things that are frankly too horrible to explicitly address in a children's novel.
The book is primarily set in present day, but there is a moment when our hero, Morgan, encounters this same old newspaper photo and begins to understand, perhaps younger than any of us would like, that the world in general, and our country in particular, are much more complex places than we generally like to present to children. And lest the reader be tempted to think this is all in the past, I circle back to the idea later in the book with an example of modern day Nazism in Long Island that was drawn directly from a current news article from the area that my cousin's boyfriend texted me just last summer.
I don't like long newsletters as a rule. But there is so much more I would like to share about this. Normally I am an...infrequent newsletter writer at best. But for the next few weeks leading up to the launch of The Ghost of Drowned Meadow, I plan to send them more frequently. I hope you don't mind, but if you do, please feel free to express your displeasure in reply, or if it's truly intolerable to you, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the newsletter. I promise I won't hold it against you.
For the rest of us, please look forward what I hope will be a highly accessible and illuminating summary of a great deal of historical research on Nazism in 1930s America, as well as a brief lighthearted departure into the world of manga and anime. An odd combination, I know, but I promise it will make sense.
Until next time,