Fifteen-year-old Cuss Brewster is not a criminal. Well, maybe a slight criminal in the state of New York where he accidentally burns down his neighbor’s barn. It’s not his first fire-related mishap, so a judge tells Cuss, “Behave for the next six months, or you’ll go to jail.” But for Cuss, behaving is a lot harder than it seems.
Trouble hounds him. He rescues children from a church fire, only to be accused of starting the fire. Two weeks before his probation hearing, Cuss confuses the brake and gas pedals on a vintage Porsche and crashes the car through garage doors. Cuss can almost taste prison food….
Deborah M. Prum began her writing career at age seven. Perched atop a chrome kitchen chair, she pecked out children’s stories on her mother’s Royal typewriter. Every plot contained a similar theme. At the outset, some disaster (plane crash, rampant disease, ravaging insects) took the lives of parents and all other authority figures. The kids ate wild berries and skinned rabbits to make clothing. Without exception, by the end of each tale, the sturdy little survivors had created a utopia and lived blissfully ever after. Unfortunately, it did not occur to Deb’s parents to call a child psychologist.
Author of young adult novel, FATTY IN THE BACK SEAT, Deborah M. Prum has won five awards for her fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as in many other journals and literary anthologies. FIRST KISS AND OTHER CAUTIONARY TALES is an eBook and audiobook collection of essays, most of which first aired on NPR-member stations. She’s written about the craft of writing for both The Writer magazine and The Writer’s Handbook. She’s given writing workshops and has taught at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Years ago, a small boy with a violin came to the front door of my grandmother's house in Florida. I'm not exactly sure why he came to the door, but I believe he wanted to play his violin in her backyard in order to attract his bird which had escaped. I'm not too sure about the details because I was a child myself when it happened. I carried the image of the boy and the violin with me for years. Then, when I pictured Cuss, a teen who just moved from New York to live in Florida with his mother, I thought of him in an empty house. I wanted to have someone come to the door and all of a sudden, the image of Amadeus and his violin came to mind. Both Amadeus and Cuss share the emotion of grieving over losses. So that's how I decided I wanted to start this book.
Fatty in the Back Seat
Anyway, when the doorbell rang that day, I didn’t expect to see a little kid standing there. Especially not a brown-faced black-haired kid with a violin tucked under his arm. He said, “We lost our yellow bird, Beni. She might be in your backyard. She’s been there before. She likes all the flowers.”