The Secrets of Hawthorne House
by Donald Firesmith Genre: Teen Paranormal Mystery
Matt's life changes forever when a family of druids moves into the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door. The story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two completely different cultures, secret magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell was having the worst summer imaginable. Matt’s misery started when a drunk driver killed his mother. Then his father moved him and his twin sister to the small town of Hawthorne in rural Indiana, as far as his grieving father could take from the ocean that Matt's mother had loved. At the new high school, three bullies are determined to make Matt miserable. And to top it off, Matt learns that the recluse who lives in the 'haunted house" next door is none other than Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous witch and murderer. Matt’s terrible summer is turning into an awful autumn when something quite unexpected happens. Old Lady Hawthorne’s niece and her three children arrive, and Matt meets Gerallt.
Spotting Matt as the only familiar face in the room, Gerallt walked over and sat at the empty desk next to him. It also happened to be the chair directly in front of Clayton Cartwright.
Waiting for the teacher to face the chalkboard and turn his back to the class, Clayton leaned forward, stretched out his arm, and poked a sausage-sized finger into Gerallt’s back. “Hey, new kid,” Clayton whispered. “Where’d you get the Halloween costume? What’re you supposed to be, some kind of Goth druggie?”
Gerallt ignored Clayton. Matt glanced sideways, the memory of his own initial run-in with Clayton still fresh in his mind from the first day of school.
“What’s the matter with you?” Clayton continued, leaning forward to poke Gerallt again. “I’m talking to you. You deaf? Or stoned!”
Gerallt glanced over his shoulder, gave Clayton a look of utter contempt, and then turned back to read what the teacher was writing on the chalkboard.
“Oh, I get it,” Clayton whispered, giving Gerallt a third poke in the back. “You’re one of these Amish kids who don’t believe in fighting. Believe in turning the other cheek, do you? Or maybe you’re just a coward.” He gave Gerallt a shove to the back of the head. “Just wait ‘til after school, Bible boy, and I’ll give you a little something on each cheek.”
This time it was Gerallt who made sure the teacher was still busy at the blackboard with his back to the class. Then he turned and whispered in the same unusual accent as his sister, “My great ahnt warned me about you, Clayton Cartwright. It will take more than the likes of you tah frighten me. And I promise you this. Poke me one more time in the back, and you won’t be poking anyone for a very long time.” Then Gerallt turned his back on Clayton, swiftly slipped his fingertips between the wooden buttons of his shirt and began to whisper something too softly for Matt to hear.
“Is that so, Bible boy?” Clayton replied angrily, just loudly enough for the teacher to hear. Mr. Thompson turned around just in time to see Clayton lean his considerable weight forward to poke Gerallt once more in the back.
Clayton’s finger had barely touched Gerallt’s back when there was a loud crack as the front legs of Clayton’s chair snapped. Suspended motionless for an instant, his entire body pivoted forward on the chair’s remaining legs, and his nose smashed into the back of Gerallt’s chair with a sickening, yet strangely satisfying, crunch. Next, his outstretched index finger, driven by the whole weight of his body and desk, hit the floor with such force that the resulting snap was heard clearly by everyone in the room. This was followed instantly by the crash of Clayton's desktop, body, and books onto the floor followed by an unexpectedly high-pitched scream of pain. After a second of shocked silence, the class erupted as everybody started talking and yelling at once.
A geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He's also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat by his fear that the term "distinguished" makes him sound like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still slightly more red than gray.
By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, and his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.