Middle Grade, Paranormal
12-year-old Pepper Connelly leaves her best friend, Chrissie, behind when her family moves from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. Pepper discovers a boy, Corey, hiding in her backyard shed. Unknown to Pepper, Corey is a ghost trying to contact his grandfather, Boppie, before he crosses over. He tells Pepper he must locate Boppie before Social Services finds him. Pepper agrees to help.
While Pepper’s communication with Chrissie dwindles, her friendship with Corey grows. She tells Corey about her passion for writing songs, and throughout the story, she composes a song about Corey. Corey teaches Pepper to play the harmonica. Soon, she’s torn between finding Boppie and knowing when she does, Corey will certainly go back on the road with his traveling-musician grandfather.
Other characters help her on her quest: new classmate Ally Cressman, who dresses in an odd-ball, non-mall style; Sawtooth Sam, the mysterious saw-playing street musician; and Madame Mchumba, who performs her psychic readings at the Boardwalk amusement park. Earthquakes, haunted house rides, poltergeists, and crystal ball readings propel Pepper toward the shocking conclusion of her search.
CIR: What gave you the idea for this book?
COVELLA: The Castle Blues Quake takes place in Santa Cruz, CA where I've lived for many years. I grew up in California, so I'm used to the rare earthquake that happens here. These included two big ones: one in Southern California when I was in middle school and one in Santa Cruz, which I experienced as an adult. Both were very scary, but thankfully neither my family, friends, nor I were injured. These experiences gave me the idea for The Castle Blues Quake. That, and the fact that I love ghost stories.
CIR: What do you hope your readers will get out of this book?
COVELLA: I hope with this story readers are deliciously chilled with ghostly shivers, but also that they are warmed by the friendships they’ll find within.
CIR: What is the main character like?
COVELLA: 12-year-old Pepper Connelly, as her mother says, “lives in her head” quite a bit. Her dream is to be a song writer, and she constantly composes rhymes in her mind. She lacks confidence about her ability to make friends and her looks. But as her friendship with Corey and other characters in the story grows, her confidence also grows, while learning about the give-and-take, the heartbreak and joy, of true friendship.
CIR: Are any of the characters like you or someone you know?
COVELLA: I remember feeling exactly that way, that lack of confidence, when I was in middle school, so I think I wrote a bit of myself into Pepper’s character.
CIR: What themes do you address in this book?
COVELLA: I address themes of self-discovery, self-confidence, family connections, and friendship.
Learn more about Linda Covella at lindacovella.com