Asbury High and the Thief's Gamble by Kelly Brady Channick Genre: YA Mystery
Asbury, although a haven to shoobies (tourists) in the summer, is a divided coastal town. With the rich half living in the East, and the rest living in the West, most friendships stay within their boundaries. Luckily for a spunky-smart tomboy, a clever billionaire athlete, a gossipy-in-the-know cheerleader, and a wrong side of the tracks technological genius, boundaries are a foreign concept. In fact, Maddie, Cornelious, Carly and Pilot have been Asbury’s strongest quartet for years, despite their vast differences. Nevertheless, after a few weeks of starting high school, the foursome’s friendship is tested.
After a string of burglaries in East Asbury, the gang decides to solve the crime as a reason to make time for each other. The further they investigate, the more they find themselves constantly side-stepping tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum-like policemen, outsmarting local bully JB and his gang of misfits, and dealing with Cornelious’ billionaire father and Governor---who has disapproved of his son’s choice of friends for years. In addition to these obstacles, the foursome must also adapt to their evolving friendship with each other and their peers.
With upperclassmen, teachers, and teammates vying for their attention, the gang must work even harder to root out the red-herrings from the true thief. Aided by Carly’s gossip, Maddie’s boldness, Cornelious’ quick-wit, and Pilot’s knack for technology, the gang soon discovers its edge over the local police department.
During the weekend, Asburyans faced something they never before dealt with: a major break-in into one of East Asbury's most prominent families had resulted in a two-thousand-dollar theft. Although this amount wasn’t a lot for an East-sider, the town was full of unrest. For everyone knows the first break-in, is never the last.
"This sucks! My mom tried changing the locks four times before she let us out of the house! Mia had to calm her down just so she wouldn't end up locking us inside of the house."
"Lucky you Carly," Cornelious mumbled, "My mom said that she would die if someone harmed the cat! Not the money. Not the car. Not even me! And then my dad said I’m to come right home after practice and no more hanging out with those hooligans. He honestly thinks you guys broke into the Lomlings!"
Maddie turned to view Kirk Lomling and the pity party he was throwing. If I had been ripped off two grand I wouldn’t sit around and ask for everyone’s sympathy, Maddie thought watching Kirk spew details and statistics of the improbability of a theft occurring in his security-ridden home---scratch that---mansion. She was about to crack a joke over Kirk’s mansion-theft, but when she faced her friends she felt the awkward tension beginning to rise. Suddenly, she thought of a bright idea, "Hey guys! I know what we should do!" Maddie exclaimed and motioned for them all to move closer. Seeing as they were in lunch it was hard enough to hear each other. "We should try to solve this ourselves!"
"Great idea! Why didn't I think of it?!" Carly's voice got higher as she spoke. "Four fourteen-year-olds trying to solve a break-in, now that's hilarious. Oh! I do have one question...why?"
"Well, seeing as our schedules are very different after school, this will be an excuse for us to get together, and we could think of it as an adventure. Plus, we did win the murder-mystery night in middle school each year, eh?"
“Oh yeah I forgot, the robber is obviously Mr. Hayfield dressed up as Colonel Mustard.”
"Maddie, it sounds fun. But where would we even start?" Pilot asked, while nervously glancing at Carly, afraid to disagree. The table went silent for a few minutes to reflect on this idea.
“I can’t believe we’re honestly considering this,” Carly interjected, effectively breaking the silence.
"Well, we could start at the Lomling's. You know, it was Kirk's family that was robbed. We could try to find their security room and look at the tapes to see if anything is out of place." Cornelious announced out of nowhere.
"Okay. Cool. So let's----” but before Maddie could finish they were interrupted by the bell.
"STUDY HALL!" Maddie boomed shuffling out the door, and into the hall.
Cornelious reached the doorway first and slowly stuck his head out. After sensing no danger, he motioned for the other three to come join him in the hallway. With everyone in the hallway, they all stood still and strained to make sure they didn’t miss a sound. They silently edged forward until they reached the top of the staircase.
Maddie slid over to Cornelious and started to gesture that they should slowly make their way downstairs, when she thought she heard a door opening or closing. The only problem was, it sounded like it was coming from behind them. Apparently, Cornelious had heard it too, for he slowly turned and raised the flashlight over to where Carly was nervously playing with her nails. Standing right behind Carly, raising a dangerous-looking object above his head, was a figure clad in all black, without an inch of skin showing. Immediately, all three knew it was the thief. Carly was literally the only one left in the dark.
Although Maddie and Cornelious had heard the noise and turned around first, Pilot was the first one to spring into action. As the thief began to swing his weapon, Pilot lunged forward and knocked Carly to the ground.
“Ouch! What the---,” but Carly cut herself short as she realized what had taken place. Pilot had pushed her out of the way and ended up leaving himself totally vulnerable to the thief. Before anyone could make a move, the thief swung his weapon at Pilot and instantly made contact. As Pilot crumpled to the ground, Maddie and Cornelious lunged at the thief. Using only his body, he bowled over Cornelious and threw his weapon at Maddie---who luckily ducked down in time.
“Neal! You okay?” Maddie asked rushing over to his side.
“Yeah, fine. Let’s go! He’s getting away!” Cornelious sprang up and ran down the stairs in pursuit of the thief.
Before joining him, Maddie ran to where Pilot lay unconscious. She, thankfully, felt a pulse and ordered Carly to call 911 immediately. Carly wiped away her tears and dug her phone out of her pocket. Not wanting to waste any more time Maddie sprinted down the staircase, and into the den, to the left of the main door.
To Maddie, it looked like a fight scene ripped out of a badly choreographed movie. Cornelious had temporarily stopped the thief from leaving out the far side window in the den. The thief was holding a bulging bag (full of stolen goods) in one hand, and a poker he had grabbed from the fireplace in the other. The only thing between the thief and Cornelious was the leather couch and stained wooden coffee table. However, the only thing between Maddie and the thief was, well nothing. Cornelious realized this too, and tried to distract the thief by keeping his full attention.
“So you’re pretty tough... strong.... fast,” Cornelious said as he kept shifting left and right to keep the thief cornered. “Did you ever play football?”
Apparently, this proved to be the wrong thing to say. The thief stopped moving and completely stiffened up. Hence, he heard Maddie moving behind him. Before anyone could make a move, the thief hit Maddie across the stomach with the poker and kicked her against the wall.
“NO!” Cornelious yelled as he tackled the thief and landed some punches on his chest. Unfortunately, the thief was stronger and able to maneuver his way out of Cornelious’ grasp. Cornelious managed to get up quickly, but received a straight punch to the nose. Hearing his nose crack, Cornelious dived and grabbed the thief’s legs. The thief stumbled for a second, but freed himself by kicking Cornelious in the face, leaving him no choice but to give up the fight.
Maddie, although pretty sure she had cracked or at least bruised her rib cage, staggered up and attempted to fight the thief. Laughing, the thief swung at Maddie. She dodged the first two punches, but the third one connected on her jaw and she fell back, yet again. Cornelious, blinded by his bloody and definitely broken nose, tried to stand up, but discovered his legs felt like jello.
Realizing they had been beat, they watched as the thief threw the bag of stolen goods out of the window and followed suite. Too tired and too sore to follow, the two pulled themselves up onto the couch and collapsed. About four minutes after the thief fled, Maddie and Cornelious heard the cop sirens and hoped that maybe they had caught the thief fleeing the premises---although they figured that was highly unlikely.
“My dad’s gonna be pissed there’s blood all over this couch,” Cornelious laughed.
“At least it’s not mine. Or he’d probably have you arrested too.”
“GUYS! Pilot’s coming to!” Carly exclaimed from upstairs.
Maddie and Cornelious considered that maybe they were lucky after all. Considering that no one had gotten killed or anything. But after the cops burst through the door, led by an angry Officer Chip, Cornelious and Maddie reconsidered their luck.
For as long as she could remember, Kelly Brady Channick loved making up stories, and leaving her listeners/readers on the edge of their seats.
Perhaps that’s why she always managed to talk herself out of trouble...
After graduating from NJ’s own Ocean City High School, Kelly accepted a basketball scholarship to Holy Family University, in Philadelphia. As a lifelong athlete, Kelly understands the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity, something she hopes translates into her books.
Before writing page-turners, she taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade — like a dessert menu, she simply had to test them all out. But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time: writing. Kelly loves to craft whodunit mysteries, leading readers through various twists and turns filled with red-herrings, hidden clues, and more peculiar characters than a reality show.
Kelly lives in South Jersey with her handsome husband, energetic baby boy, two cookie-stealing dogs, and an awfully smart cat.
If you want to know when Kelly’s next book will come out, please visit her website at http://www.kbchannick.com, where you can sign up to receive emails providing updates for new releases, or contact her directly, as well as win fun giveaways, and receive up to date news.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hi! I’m Kelly and I became an author because I was born to tell stories. For as long as I can remember (and my past teammates, friends and family can attest to this), I’ve LOVED making up stories and using my crazy imagination. Plus, I talk a lot--- ask my handsome husband! I was lucky to grow up in South Jersey, where going to the beach was a five-minute ride over the bridge and summer meant going on my best friend’s boat to tube or water ski whenever I wanted. Although I never said no to boating or swimming, I mostly enjoyed ‘traditional’ sports, like soccer and basketball and even played softball until eighth grade. Basically, sports and action are in my blood.
When I was looking to college, I was torn between majoring in criminal justice or education. Growing up, I had always dreamed of being an FBI Agent and going on crazy missions--- I even would check the physical test and guidelines each year for making an agent and was proud to day I could’ve passed it easily. However, my cousins’ neighbor was a retired agent, and after learning that most of the job entailed paperwork and desk duty, I knew that wasn’t for me. But, I never stopped daydreaming of missions and mysteries, which led me to write out what I envisioned. After teaching for five years--- ranging from first to eighth grade--- my husband, Ryan, and I decided to work towards having a family. After the birth of our BIG little man, I realized that if I didn’t push myself to publish now, then I probably never would. With encouragement from Ry, I went full steam ahead.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I can forgive people most things and feel it is unhealthy to hold grudges or get mad over trivial things. However, there are three things that honestly make me cringe.
1. Clapping- I honestly detest clapping. At the cinema, or when an airplane lands, or even if I was to score a goal. I just don’t see why people need to bring their hands together like that. My husband agrees its goofy, and I try not to look annoyed when other do it--- especially because I know they’re clapping to show support or encouragement. But still, if you enjoy my books (which I hope you do), don’t clap… maybe whistle or say congrats.
2. Sneezing- Yup, I visibly cringe when I hear others sneeze. It has nothing to do with germs or boogers, just the sound alone. And don’t even get me started on how unreasonably angry I feel when someone sneezes in the middle of a conversation. It’s crazy! And when I sneeze, I get the maddest at all--- yes, it’s irrational, and we all do it. I just hope I never have to attend a dusting convention or something.
3. Odd number volumes- If we’re watching TV or listening to music, I need to actually see that the volume is turned to an even number. Otherwise, I’ll change it myself, or turn it off. I have a weird mental image of the sound leaving the speaker and entering my ears unevenly if the volume number is odd.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Somers Point, NJ, but moved and grew up in Upper Township--- right outside Ocean City, New Jersey. Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! I got to have all of the perks of living by the shore, without having to live in the actual busy and overcrowded summer town. Although, I did work on the boardwalk each summer (Bashful Banana, extremely delicious and healthy foods, a must-stop-at destination if you’re ever in town), and attend OCHS. However, living on the other side of the bridge enabled me to have an actual yard and much more space to play around and make up games as a kid, with the best neighbors ever--- HI DIEROLF FAMILY!!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I work out! I consider myself a lifelong athlete, even though my sports careers are finished---well other than for fun in pickup games or rec leagues. In fact, I was even my high school’s (GO OC!) most athletic and female athlete of the year. Therefore, it is obvious that running and being active is something I have always enjoyed and will continue to do so. Getting outside in the fresh air, and running around by myself or with my husband, son and two dogs (never a dull moment here) or playing games, does more for my mind than anything else. Especially if I find I am having a hard time finding the right words to say, or rather write.
How to find time to write as a parent?
As a new parent (our little man is only seven months old, as I write this), this proved to be more difficult than I originally thought. However, during both of our big boy’s naptimes, each are an hour and a half, I sit down in front of my computer with a tall glass of milk--- the only drink I drink--- and just start typing or writing out ideas. I have found that once I start, I just keep going. As a collegiate and lifetime athlete, I believe wholeheartedly that if you do something every day, for long enough, it becomes habit. One of my best friends, for whom one of the characters share the same last name (Gibbz!), is very motivational and definitely a glass-full type of person. After I decided to go ahead with the decision to get my books published, she would text me every day and ask: “Did you write today?” The rest is history!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Active (mentally and physically)
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I combined these two questions because I felt like the same answer pretty much goes for both. With my Asbury High series (which is already completely mapped out), I feel like I created a whole world and can see all of the characters and settings perfectly. Therefore, I feel as if it would be easy to translate over onto the screen. However, because they are mysteries and get more intensive (both the mysteries and teenage drama), as the characters get older and progress through high school, I feel as if a series would be better. This way no important or much-loved details would be left out. Also, I can’t necessarily see anyone playing the lead. If it was up to me, I would look to cast unknowns for each role, that way they wouldn’t be known for anything else before becoming each character.
What can we expect from you in the future?
A lot more books! Ask anyone who knows me and I love to talk---in addition to be voted most athletic, I was also the class clown. Part of that goes with the ability to tell stories that others enjoy listening to. Thus, in addition to my seven-part Asbury High series--- which will be released over the next two and a half years, I have also written an adult crime novel, and have plans for three other books from various genres.
Who designed your book covers?
Susan Schafer--- and I highly recommend her, she is an amazingly talented artist!! Although only one of my books in the Asbury High series is out, the second one comes out early summer and the third is due out in September. Sue is currently hard at work designing the covers, and I am so excited. I have always gravitated more towards the book covers where you could tell they are hand-drawn and not just stock images pulled together. This way I can honestly say my books feature one-of-kind artwork--- look at the Harry Potter or Sammy Keyes covers, how could you resist reading them after seeing those drawings?!
How did you come up with name of this book?
As I have mentioned earlier, I grew up outside of Ocean City, NJ. Furthermore, I wrote the first draft of Asbury High and the Thief’s Gamble when I was 18! I specifically remember driving to high school and picturing the story in my head (I had the idea running around my head for a few years before I put pen to paper), and stopping on Asbury Ave. Driving past both of my favorite bookstores--- both of which are located on Asbury Ave, I thought, “That’s it! That’s the name of my town,” in homage to SunRose and Bookateria II.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
This is a funny one--- and one I feel that most writers will agree with. Sitting down to write, although I have an outline and general idea of how I want the story to progress, I think I’m in control. However, after jumping into my character’s world, I realize that they tend to hijack my plans more often than not. In fact, one of my characters in Asbury was meant to be a complete jerk the whole series, but I found myself maturing and softening him as the series continued. Which, I guess, is better than I even planned, for I love when characters evolve.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book because, and although I LOVE SCI-FY AND PARANORMAL, I wanted to read a book where the main characters were dealing with real-life issues, without the excuse or aid of powers. At the time of writing Asbury High, Twilight was huge and it seemed as if every book started having powers or paranormal happenings. Like I said, that’s cool and I enjoy reading them too, but I wanted a book where the teens had to overcome issues and solve a mystery that was believable. Furthermore, I wanted to make my story have more than one main character, and in this case there are four. Each of my characters (Maddie, Cornelious, Carly and Pilot), are so close with each other, but also have different strengths (and weaknesses), interests, and even home-lives, so they each bring a different perspective to the table.
All authors say this about their work, but I honestly feel like this series is a MUST-READ! Not just the first book but all seven. I will also admit something… this first book is not the best in the series, although it is quite awesome. Because the characters are just starting high school and only fourteen, I didn’t want to throw all of the high school drama at them in one year. For those out of high school reading this, think back, it’s not as if you experienced everything high school and growing up had to offer in one year! Therefore, as the series goes on, the book does deal with more relationships, and tougher mysteries. However, I will add this: JK Rowling is my favorite author and I love how she sprinkles little, seemingly-unimportant details in each of her books, which end up being important later on. So, if you love series and mysteries, you NEED to read these books…and start paying attention. I wrote each novel with all the books outlined and knowing I wanted to hide details and future plots (and plot twists) in each story. HAVE FUN!!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
All of the scenes in Asbury take place near the ocean, so I would say I would want the scent to be a fresh ocean breeze, with hints of boardwalk nostalgia (think cotton candy, funnel cake, ice-cream)---however, because it is a mystery series, I would love it if when the candle blew out there was a mysterious, lingering scent, that you just can’t put your finger on.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
This was a difficult one! Other than JK Rowling being number one, the rest are honestly in no particular order. And clearly, I’m a sucker for a good series.
Any JK Rowling books—both as herself and Robert Galbraith
Red Rising Series
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series
Sammy Keyes Series
Anything Stephen King
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
The Paperbag Princess (still!)
Anything by Gillian Flynn
What book do you think everyone should read?
Everyone probably says this, but honestly Harry Potter. Not only are the characters iconic and (I believe) there is at least one who everyone can relate to, but the storylines are fantastic. I have reread each of the books four times, and each time picked up on something I had missed. JK Rowling is the absolute Queen of hiding important tidbits of information throughout her books, and therefore weaving the perfect mystery/overall plot.
Furthermore, when I discovered Rowling had based much of Harry Potter of the Holocaust, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. The fear and hate Voldemort breeds is so despicable and terrible that one would hope the real world would never need to witness the same atrocities he inflicted on others. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case---BUT I do believe by reading Harry Potter many life lessons and morals could be taught. Hopefully, the readers would feel encouraged to think twice before they act, and stand up for what’s right, no matter the cost.
How long have you been writing?
Novel-wise, I wrote my first book, Asbury High and the Thief’s Gamble, when I was 18. Although, I did go back and add much more details and fine tune it multiple times over the years. Writing-wise, I have kept a daily journal (that I honestly write in EVERY SINGLE DAY) since I was 14! Before that though, I have journals dating back to age six--- but I didn’t write every day, although I wish I did. Nothing is funnier than reading how I used to think or act back in the day.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I actually do loads of research before outlining the finer details of each story, as well as during the actual writing of each chapter. I love mysteries, but because I don’t have a photographic memory (how cool, would that be?!), nor am I trivia-mastermind Ken Jennings, I need to look up the finer details to make sure what I’m saying is accurate. In fact, I recently learned that Agatha Christie’s novels were so true to detail, that she saved a baby’s life, for the nanny had just finished reading one of her novels and told the police and doctors what she thought was wrong with the child---she was right! Therefore, I strive to make sure my facts and figures are accurate and up to date. Especially if the information ends up being crucial to solving the crime.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes! My dream has always been to be a writer--- or an FBI Agent, but I figure I could just write about FBI Agents at some point. Anyway, after recently having a big, beautiful baby boy, I have had the fortune to stay at home with him, while my awesome husband goes to work each day. Therefore, while our little man naps, I finally have time to write out all of the crazy stories that have been in my head since before I could remember. I’ve always believed that you should do what you love for a living, and I’ve always enjoyed entertaining others and telling stories--- it’s pretty much as if I don’t have any other choice.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I consider myself a voracious reader and try to read at least two to three books a week--- even when I was working full time as a teacher, or playing basketball in college (the latter is definitely akin to a full-time job, I did have to earn my scholarship to pay for college). Anyway, I will read anything that anyone recommends, even if it is not something that I would usually pick out for myself---such as nonfiction. BUT my absolute favorites are mysteries of any age. From middle grade to adult, I devour mysteries almost as quickly as I devour homemade chocolate chip cookies. Believe me, that’s fast.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Noise, but this is more out of necessity. My two lovable, but crazy and over attentive dogs will bark at the smallest of sounds. Therefore, if my little man is asleep upstairs and the dogs hear something outside, they will bark their heads off, wake up my little man, and force me out of my world of words. Therefore, I’ll either have the music on very low, or put something on the TV that I’m not particularly interested in--- for me, think: The Weather Channel.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
One of my most favorite characters of all time is Darrow, from the Red Rising series. I admit I am late to the Red Rising party, but obsessed nonetheless. What I ABSOLUTELY LOVE about Darrow is his consistent growth throughout the series. Too many characters either become stagnant or won’t learn from their mistakes--- whether that’s the author’s doing or the character’s--- either way, Darrow constantly makes mistakes or his plans go awry. Honestly, that couldn’t mirror real life anymore truly! However, Darrow is able to step back and consider his obstacles from every angle, before proceeding. And most of the times he does the complete opposite of what he originally intended. Not only does this make me love Darrow, but it allows the books series to be unpredictable and original. Bravo Pierce Brown!
Advice they would give new authors?
If you are writing because you love it and can’t seem to get the story or the characters out of your head---DO IT UP! Don’t listen to any naysayers, and write everyday---or as often as you can. BUT be sure to take a break from whatever you finish and return to it a few weeks later. You will be amazed at what you can pick up or think up with fresh eyes.
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