A warm welcome to C. Lee McKenzie. What makes her protagonist in her latest release, Not Guilty, so special?
Your question about what qualities my protagonist has that allow him to survive and thrive is an excellent one. I had a chance to go back into the story and look at what my kid was all about.
Let me give you a quick profile sketch of Devon Carlyle. His name should be a dead give away. I hope so anyway because I really worked to find the right one. He’s a white middle class kid, his dad owns a small business, and his mom works at a non-profit. He has an irritating nerdy sister and one splendid golden retriever. He’s never missed a meal, he has nice, not designer, clothes, and his big goal is a basketball scholarship to a major university. He’s talented on the court, he’s popular at school, and he has a girlfriend who’s perfect. His one character flaw is that he’s quick to anger, and this will cause him trouble—serious trouble.
When he’s accused of a crime, all of what Devon once took for granted vanishes. He’s shocked when his network of friends, some he’s known since childhood, shun him. This would be difficult for anyone, but for a teen still struggling with all of those adolescent “growing pains” it’s devastating. Devon’s response is fear and, unfortunately, anger. While he has a fundamental code of conduct to guide him, even that isn’t going to get him through the ordeal of juvenile hall, and it most certainly isn’t going to help him prove his innocence because he doesn’t have a clue about where to start.
Enter Tats, Chewy, and Ice. While the main theme of this story is justice, friendship is one also. And these three characters helped me develop this second theme. They enhance Devon’s code of conduct, and at the same time, give Devon what he doesn’t have to survive and thrive in his new and totally strange environment—some street smarts and the true meaning of friendship.
When Devon sets out to rebuild his life, he finds out that he doesn’t want that old life with the so-called friends back. He’s discovered a lot about managing his anger, sticking by people when times are rotten, and developing compassion for kids very different from himself.
Thanks so much Susan for this chance to “talk” about my MC and Not Guilty. I’ve enjoyed being here.
For more information on Lee and her writing, connect with her on Facebook
The author’s other young adult books include:
NOT GUILTY is available at:
Do you know young people Devon's age? How do you think they would react in a similar situation? Have you ever been thrown into a completely strange environment like Devon?