My next novel has been a long time coming. Having undergone many rewrites, it has been ready for a while, but has been difficult to name. I've finally settled on a title and it will be published early next year.
The three titles in contention have been "The Body in the Freezer" which sounds like a murder mystery. It's not, although there is a body in the freezer that plagues the dreams of our young hero. "Directions Not Included" suggests humor, which it's not, though I think it will elicit a few chuckles. Instead, I've chosen to name it "Call Me Captain" hinting at a wistful yearning for recognition and giving it a poignancy that I hope will affect readers in a positive way.
It's about Samuel Ellingsford Capulin III, age 13, the only son of a middle class family. He fears and disdains his authoritarian and often absent father, a pilot for a commercial airline. Captain, as he wants to be called, sees his mother as weak and doting, with no real life of her own. To hide his anger and feelings of rejection, he cops an attitude of indifference, arrogance, and sarcasm—not just at home, but at school with any peers or teachers who don't earn his respect. The story begins in the office of Mrs. Mahoney, the junior high school principal, where Captain is frequently sent for his disrespect and disruption of a class.
When he goes a bit too far, Captain is suspended from school and ordered to serve six weeks of community service in a homeless shelter. The patrons to his breakfast line become real people with stories of their own, rather than the generalized mass of low-life his father derides and shuns. One of the patrons is a girl named Danni who brings her 3-year-old sister to the shelter. She rebuffs Captain's attempts to start a conversation, something he isn't used to. Prettier, more popular girls at school have always vied for his attention. Danni's snubs challenge him, and he becomes intrigued by her secrecy and independence.
When she finally shares one of her deepest secrets with him, he wonders what he has gotten himself into—and why.