Book Title: Caroline & Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Literary
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Release date: March 31, 2021
Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.
“Caroline’s story is profoundly sad, and yet hopeful, magical, and yet rooted in reality. There is magic, mystery, and daring adventure.” – BooksCoffee
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.
Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.
Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.
Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.
As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.
Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade fantasy series, The Jack Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
Jeff wrote Caroline & Mordecai the Gand after receiving a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. The novella was meant as a private story for his five children on how to face grief by holding onto joy and love. He leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of Old Fox Books in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.
connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads ~ bookbub
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THE PURPOSE OF FICTION
While I admit I do have a bit of an ego, I’m not quite so bad as to think I have a definitive answer to this question. I do have my own ideas though. And it’s not so just some esoteric question to me. As a father of five and a guy with more hobbies than I know what to do with, deciding to spend hundreds of hours a year writing is a challenge.
We’re all given this same number of hours each day and it’s our decision as to how we choose to spend them. But it is a zero sum game. Every hour you spend doing something is obviously an hour that you spend not doing something else. Every decision is a tradeoff and deserves some analysis to make sure that we’re spending our time wisely.
So why even bother reading or writing fiction?
By its very definition, fiction is a lie. The characters, the situations, the emotion, all of it is a fabrication. The same is true for other art forms, TV, movies, plays, poetry. But novels are unique in that it’s a time intensive endeavor on both sides of the ledger, both for creator and person consuming the art. A film might take years to make, but only a couple hours to watch. A painting could take weeks, but seen at a glance, appreciation in less than a few minutes of study.
There’s a quote I like, but I forget who said it. It goes something to the effect that fiction is the lie that tells the truth. It’s a noble idea, but does commercial fiction fall into this category? Sometimes a book is simple escapism, a way to jump out of your stress and concerns of your regular day and be whisked away into a different world. I think there’s a great value there.
However, on this side of the keyboard, I attempt turn my investment of hours does something more. I don’t rely on my writing as my source of income (although that has been a nice surprise as my readership has grown), so my goal for my writing is more than commercial or even critical success.
The idea behind Caroline and Mordecai the Gand was to create a guidebook for my own kids on how to deal with grief if my cancer diagnosis turned out badly. I had tried to write a letter directly to them but I was unable to get through it. I’m sure if things had gone a different way I would have gone back and forced my way through that, but this novel was a way for me to share part of my philosophy with them through fiction. It’s intensely personal on every page.
But every one of my books is like that. And I think every other author’s book is like that for them as well. Every situation, every line of dialogue, every scene, carries at least the genetic imprint of the writer. Even in my thrillers which are, by design, plot heavy and fast paced, my worldview and thoughts about the human condition work their way in. It’s this part of books and story that I feel makes the writing and the reading worthwhile. Those small pieces of illumination, of interpretation, of attempted insight, those are the bread crumbs that can lead a reader to understanding the writer’s mind.
What keeps me going is human desire to leave a mark and, not to dance around it, to live forever. I don’t think that any of my books will be the masterpieces that last through time, but perhaps a grandchild, or a great-grandchild, will some day, long after I’m dead, find my novels in an attic or in some old online database and take the time to read them. In doing so I will be able to speak to that young man or young woman and share with them parts of myself within those pages of fiction. Maybe they will see the world a little differently after they read my books. Maybe they will disagree with me. And that’s OK. At least we will be sharing space together, sharing ideas, sharing life.
This all might seem like a bunch of over-the-top hooey, but it’s how I feel about it. I’m just humbled and excited that you have considered to read my books and share this journey with me. I appreciate it more than you know.
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