Title: Incense and Peppermints
Author: Cathrina Constantine
Published: March 10th, 2017
Publisher: CHBB Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Content Warning: Smoking and drug use
Synopsis: In 1969 it was an age of peace demonstrations, sit-ins, burning of the U.S. flag, an escalation of the Vietnam War. Including the catalyst—a music revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs, spurring a young generation into a new decade.
Sixteen-year-old Mary believes it’s time to cut the apron strings and fly. New experiences and new friends, Mary crosses the threshold of adolescence with a bang. When her brother offers her the solution in the form of a little pill, the rumba going on in her brain should’ve been a forewarning.
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What was the inspiration for your story?
I don’t believe you have to write what you know, however, one day my daughter told me just that. So, the setting and historical times of Incense and Peppermints, is something I’m familiar with. Within the context of those pages there are a few factual happenings… and the paragraphs concerning the Vietnam War are true facts.
What kept you going throughout the writing process?
And, my memories and trying to write an exciting and inspiring story that’s also entertaining.
Who is your most meaningful character and why?
I love Michael. He is a misunderstood bad boy. The poor kid had it rough and his bad boy reputation followed him. But, he also contributed to his rep in many ways. I can’t leave spoilers, but I can say, he’s extremely gorgeous in my mind…
Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?
At the present time, I don’t have plans on bringing Michael and Mary into a sequel. But sometimes the characters have the penchant to tickle my brain. So you never know.
How has this story touched your life?
Quite a bit actually. When I was writing Incense and Peppermints, I was relieving a wild and crazy time in my life: A time when the world is against you or you’re fighting an unseen battle. The teenage years are rough and kids can be bullies and nasty. It’s when your peers mold you into something that you don’t want or something that you’re not. From 13 until 18 years of age you’re testing the waters, experiencing new things and some of those new things can be deadly and unhealthy. I believe those years are the most dramatic times of a person’s life.
What motivated you to start writing?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I always wrote little stories when I was younger. I like to see my imagination come alive on paper, or in this instance on my laptop.
Excerpt from Incense and Peppermints:
The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.
“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.
My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.
“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.
“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.
“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”
“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”
Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.
You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?
Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”
“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”
Though he surprised me, my reflexes snapped into play, and I caught it.
“Just in case you change your mind,” he mumbled. “I guarantee a cosmic night.” His saggy underwear melted into the darkened hallway.
My inner geek gawked at the pill as if I was holding nitroglycerin.
A taste wouldn’t hurt and lapped it with my tongue. It stuck. The pill began to dissolve, tasting chalky. I panicked. Plucked it from my mouth and shoveled it under my pillow.
About the Author:
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.
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