Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE TRAZ (BackTracker Series) by Eileen Schuh

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Eileen's Blog

THE TRAZ is as daring, raw, and spirited as the young heroine.

It’s exhilarating entertainment but it also contains a vital message for those on the cusp of maturity and for the adults who guide them.

This novel addresses head-on the issues behind juvenile delinquency and exposes the adults who exploit these troubled teens.

Schuh’s young readers, however, do not have to face these complicated and unsettling issues alone. THE TRAZ is released with a Teaching Guide to give youngsters, parents, educators, law enforcers, and other community leaders an opportunity to discuss and explore the darkness that at-risk teens are both facing and fleeing.

What is the captivating story through which these life-lessons flow?

Katrina is thirteen, wealthy, grieving, and alone. But she is more than that. She's intelligent, beautiful, and intrigued by the dangers of street life.

Shrug's a giant of a man with a voice of thunder and eyes of granite. He has tattoos, The Traz gang patch, and a motorbike. When he asks Katrina if she wants a ride, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

Katrina quickly discovers the violent side of life on The Traz compound. However, there is no way for her to escape until she meets Chad—an undercover cop with rich brown eyes, a gentle chuckle, and a plan to rescue Katrina from the clutches of the gang. However, there's a problem.

Somebody is keeping dangerous secrets from them both.

THE TRAZ is netting superlative reviews from some of Canada’s top authors.

"Raw and emotional with fast-paced, gripping tension, The Traz is a must-read for 'tweens, teens and parents."
--Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Children of the Fog

"Schuh creates complex characters and raw dialogue. This is a fast paced novel where redemption is found on the saddle of a Harley."
--Garry Ryan, author of the Detective Lane mysteries



Cambridge Bay, December 1986

"How's my girl with the sunshine curls?" Dave Buckhold asked as he swung Katrina over his head. His young daughter squealed. He hugged her to his chest and her laughter subsided.

"Daddy! Daddy! Give me a kiss!" He nuzzled his lips to her tiny ear and gave her a million kisses. Beyond a doubt, Katrina was his reason for living. He pried her from his neck and set her down. 

"Where's Mom?"
A scowl replaced her smile. "I don't know."

"What do you mean, you don't know?"

Katrina reached for his hand. "She's somewhere."

Dave picked her up. She was four but so tiny. It was as if he had a toddler in his arms. He headed down the hall, flicking on lights as he went. "Tanesa?" he called. He frowned at his wife curled on the sofa. 

"Why are you lying here in the dark? You have a child to look after."

Tanesa kept her eyes shut. "She looks after herself fine."

Dave hugged Katrina tighter and cast the woman a long, silent gaze. His wife was nothing like their daughter. She was dark, in both skin tone and mood, and had none of the fine features that defined Katrina. Her straight black hair contrasted with Katrina's amber curls, and Tanesa was tall, matching him in height at five foot ten. At one time, he'd loved both her vulnerability and coarse beauty.
"Aren't you even going to say hi to me?" he eventually asked.

Tanesa slowly opened her eyes. "Hi."
"Katrina's too young to look after herself. Where's supper?"

"Ever since my dad and you bought her that computer…" 

Tanesa swung her legs over the edge of the couch and stared at her stockinged feet. She wiggled her toes into the thick gold carpet. 

"All she does is sit and play on the thing. I can only stand watching that for so long. Supper's in the oven." She rose and brushed past them to the kitchen.

"What did you have for lunch?" Dave whispered to Katrina.

"I look after myself fine," the child whispered back. "Don't fight. Please don't fight with Mommy."

Supper started in silence except for the clink of silverware against china. Dave was wiping up the last of his gravy with a bun when the mantle clock struck six o'clock. As the last chime faded, Tanesa spoke. "Dave, you promised me that we'd...."

Interview with Eileen Schuh

What will readers like about your book? 

The complex characters engaging in fast-paced, illicit, and dangerous activities. Adult readers (and perhaps the younger readers, too) will like the Teaching and Discussion guide that comes with it.

Why did you self publish? 

I chose to self-publish The Traz to establish a readership and promote myself as a writer prior to the August release of my tradtionally-published novel, Schr├Ádinger's Cat, by WolfSinger Publications. Having more than one book available is a great asset for a writer. If someone likes one of my books, they will search for and buy other books I have written--effectively doubling my sales.

What is your writing process?

I have many different process, from setting out with a specific story and readership in mind, to outlining and researching science, to working a story around a theme or life-lesson. The Traz, however, (as all other books in the BackTracker series) came about when a cast of characters appeared and began dictiating to me their stories. While writing this novel, I often did not know what was going to happen next, why things were happening as they were, or what the results of the characters decisions and actions would be. It was as fun to write as it is to read.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?

I seem to have a special 'in' with the crime fiction muses as my novels in that genre are written very quickly. My sci-fi novels take me longer to write and involve more research. My juvenile novels are somewhere inbetween. The first draft of THE TRAZ was done about 4 years ago and took me about a week to write. [I had little else happening in my life at that dark and lonely time. The Traz characters kept me company, entertained me, and prevented me from self-destructing.]

What inspired you to write this particular story?

THE TRAZ was actually written as a prequel to my BackTracker series of Crime Novels. I had written three or four books in the series when I became insatiably curious about how my characters met. About that time, as well, law enforcement officials and social service agencies were pleading for community help in preventing youngsters from joining gangs. THE TRAZ is my literary response to that plea. As well, The Traz satisfied my need to understand the BackTracker characters--where they were coming from and what was driving their relationships.

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