Burn Baby Burn Baby, by Kevin Craig
Genre: contemporary, young-adult
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: December 11, 2014
Cover Artist: Eugene Teplitsky, https://curiosityquills.com/team/
Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.
The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.
About The Author:
Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.
Find Kevin Craig Online:
Recently I had a reader accuse me of writing broken pathetic down-on-their-luck fallible characters ALL THE TIME–without exception. As in, “ALL your characters are broken.”
It turned out to be a compliment, believe it or not. At first I was taken aback, though. In my head, you see, I was thinking all my characters were strong, courageous, together. Especially Francis Fripp, the narrator of Burn Baby Burn Baby. If anyone is courageous and strong, it’s Francis Frigging Fripp!
The reader in question had actually just finished Burn Baby. So it was my characters in general she was discussing, and Francis in particular. My first reaction was to embrace Francis and protect him from the hurt. Then I stood back and thought about it rationally. Wow! She had a point. All my characters are broken and pathetic. Without exception.
But doesn’t the arc seem that much the richer if you start from the bottom and find a way to rise above your circumstances. I guess that’s always been my pattern. My modus operandi. My characters don’t necessarily move from rags to riches, so to speak. They don’t rise up from the gutter to the penthouse. But I do try to have them come to realizations about self-worth and strength of character. It is important to me that they grow as a result of my dragging them through the mud of their unfortunate circumstances.
Truth be told, it’s kind of fun writing these characters, in a how-low-can-you-go sort of way. I love to take these hideously deformed characters and find a way to make them appreciate life.
This time, with Francis Fripp, I went one step further. I made him literally ‘hideous’. I gave Francis visible scars, where I usually write characters with emotional scars. Because of this, I suppose I saw Francis as a strong character from the get go. How hard would it be to go though life with half of your body hideously scarred by burns? I mean, you’d have to be strong, right. Courageous. A winner. Because there are people out there who are going to make your life difficult. You need strength to overcome that sort of derision.
So when my reader said this about my characters, of course I wanted to protect Francis. But you know what? An unbroken character would probably accept pity and protection. Francis? No way, no how. That’s how I know my reader is both right and wrong in her summation. My characters are broken, yes. But they are all capable of healing. We all are. We all matter and we all are capable of change and transformation. I guess that’s my true message.
If you read Francis’s story, I hope you feel his strength just as strongly as you feel his pain. I’ll tell you now, he does not want your pity. You’ll see how he deals with pity when he takes a bite out of Georgia, his best friend Trig’s girlfriend. Just trust that he is broken but not finished, down but not out. If he was finished he wouldn’t be looking for a future, right. He wouldn’t think love a possibility. People who give up don’t hope. Francis is all about hope. That’s precisely why he’s not a broken pathetic down-on-his-luck fallible character. He’s simply a work in progress. Aren’t we all?