Welcome to the book tour for Not My Ruckus by Chad Musick. The author says, “Although the protagonist is 14, this is not a kid’s book. A certain kind of teen will enjoy it, but I read Beloved in high school, so judge on that basis.” Dive deeper into this comment with an excerpt and interview with the author. Be sure to also follow the tour for even more. Leave more questions along the way. And best of luck in the giveaway!
Folks know 14-year-old Clare isn’t normal, even for a tomboy. She runs too much, talks too little, carries a gun too often, and holds a grudge forever. Only her papa’s job at the bank keeps gossip quiet. It’s unwise to risk the cold anger of the man who knows everyone’s secrets.
Clare feels prepared for everything from fire, to flood, to what her momma calls demon attacks. When her neighbor Esther kisses her, though, Clare has no ready script. Maybe she could write one, given time she doesn’t have. At the moment of that first kiss, Esther’s mom is bleeding out from a gunshot wound.
Clare can read the signs everyone else is determined to ignore. A murder was only the beginning. Esther needs protection, whether she wants it or not, and Clare won’t abandon her friend just because things are hard.
Maybe one day she’ll be forgiven for doing what’s needed.
Read an excerpt:
I was watching the sunlight coming through the clerestory— with the attic gone, its windows got a fancier name—creeping ever closer to the edge of the oriental when the doorbell rang. I peeped through the hole and opened the door for Esther. Papa had said I couldn’t leave, but he hadn’t forbidden me company. She came in without even a howdy, which is what best friends can do, I guess. She started crying hard and pulling heavy on my neck and blubbering up her words. Finally I figured out she was saying “She’s dead,” over and over. Esther just wanted to cry a bit and not talk, so we went back to my bedroom. I pulled back the covers and let her crawl in, and then I covered her up and sat on the bed. The canopy was making the light hazy, and I could see the sunbeam traced in dust. Momma didn’t approve of dust, so I should probably clean it up before she got back, but I hoped she’d understand that your friends are more important. Cleanliness might be next to Godliness, but people must matter at least a bit. Esther calmed down after a while, except for the occasional sniffle. “My mom died yesterday.” I was the world’s worst friend. I had been so relieved momma was okay that I hadn’t even checked on Esther. Me being upset made her cry again, and we went back and forth like that for a long time.
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Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.
A teen girl falls in love with the girl next door and decides to rescue her from child abuse, discovers it’s complicated and personal.
What was one of your favorite scenes?
It’s just a little scene, and doesn’t move the plot forward, but one of my favorites is when Clare (the narrator) is sitting with her older brother Frank while he plays video games. It conveys so much about their relationship. He feels like he’s outgrown their friendship, and she feels left behind, but they’re still friends. They’re being driven apart by being rivals for the same girl and by events out of their control, but there’s still a lot of innocent sibling love.
Who would be your dream narrator for the audio book version?
I’m lucky enough that I got this. Ivy Tara Blair narrates the audiobook version, and I’m so pleased with her performance. For some people, it takes a little getting used to. The book’s perspective is the first-person narration of an autistic teen girl (I’m autistic) with an East Texas accent. Ivy narrates slowly, with odd gaps and sometimes an odd cadence – and this is because she’s become Clare. Ivy herself is autistic, so there’s an authenticity that I think would be incredibly hard to obtain with a different narrator. Ivy narrates another book (Gracie & Zeus Live the Dream) by the same publisher, and it’s a completely different tone and pacing, and the accent is gone. She’s a stellar professional, and listening to her narration in Not My Ruckus had me crying pretty hard.
Why should we read your book?
It depends. Maybe you shouldn’t. Not My Ruckus is a heart-breaker, and more than one reader has written to say something like “I hated you halfway through, but I had to know what happened so I kept reading, and thank you for writing a book so full of love.” Few readers have felt neutral about Not My Ruckus. You’re likely to either love it or hate it, but even haters tend to finish it. You can read the content notes to learn more about the hard parts, but if you like books that make you cry, you’re in for a ride. A favorite reader review put it this way: “[T]his book made me cry ugly tears. So much so that I called my friend in the middle of the night. Screamed at her and said I was dangerously in love with a 14 year old badass from a book.”
On what are you currently working?
I have an as-yet-untitled book I’m finishing up now, about a (very tiny) dragon trapped in a tower by a magician who also lives there. It’s fantasy in the same vein as Jo Walton’s Among Others. Readers can decide whether they believe Knot’s claim to be a dragon. That will come out in February 2022. Knot and Bigman, the main characters, have a story in an anthology coming out in November 2021 in which Knot pursues their ongoing war against Santa Claus. I think it’s funny. It’s supposed to be.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
I have a regular day job in business management, focused on data and statistics. I write a lot for that job, but technical and non-fiction documents. I love it, and it pairs nicely with writing fiction and poetry.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m fantastically happy. That wasn’t always the case, but it is now. Not My Ruckus has been called “brutal” enough times that I accept it is, but it’s also a really hopeful novel. No matter how bad things are, they can get better. It’s not inevitable, but it’s possible.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope you buy and read my book, but do look at the content notes if you’re sensitive. (I’m sensitive myself!)
Chad Musick grew up in Utah, California, Washington, Texas, and (most of all) Alaska. He fell in love in California and then moved with his family to Japan, where he’s found happiness. He earned a PhD in Mathematical Science but loves art and science equally.
Despite a tendency for electronic devices to burst into flame after Chad handles them, he persists in working in various technical and technology-related roles.
Chad makes no secret of being epileptic, autistic, and arthritic, facts that inform how he approaches both science and the arts.
Author web links:
Chad Musick will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway