We are very excited to launch the Megaphone Society Featured Author series! Each month will highlight one of our members. This month we’d like to introduce Daniel Neff. Daniel wrote his first book about his battle with cancer and hasn’t looked back since.
Jamie Myles is a sensitive, intelligent fifteen-year-old boy who is tragically abused by his mother’s boyfriend. Jamie copes with the effects of the physical and sexual abuse through wordless conversations with his mother and the fantasy realms of his imagination.
Jamie’s hometown, Chapanoke, Minnesota, is a sad, depressed place, both economically and spiritually. Depression and hopelessness run through town like invisible tapeworms, devouring any hint of hope or prosperity that might start to grow. The mysterious Silas River, with a name that is eerily similar to a mythical river in India, flows through the heart of town. According to the Greek explorer, Megathasthenes. The Sillas River was peculiar in the entire world since nothing cast into it would float but strangely would sink to the bottom.
Officials at Chapanoke High School, though they are aware that something is going on in Jamie’s life, neglect to act, gripped by fear and the memory of the brutal murder of the previous vice principal who tried to intervene in the life of an abused teen. Jamie’s English teacher, Audrey Parker, a woman too stubborn for her own good, refuses to remain silent. When Jamie shows up to school after an absence, with bruises and scars on his face, she reports the signs of abuse to DCFS.
Mercifully, Jamie’s abuser is arrested and thrown in prison, and Jamie is placed in a group home for troubled teenagers. In the safe environment of the Nachala Home, nestled among the idyllic lakes of northwestern Minnesota, Jamie begins to heal from the abuse and finds his innate talent as a writer. When it seems that Jamie has put the past behind him and begins to attain the life he always dreamed of, the state sends him back home to live with his mother.
Will Jamie stay strong and continue on the path he started at Nachala, or will all his progress be lost when he returns to Chapanoke?
We asked a few fun questions, and here’s what Daniel said:
What would your main character eat for breakfast?
At home, Jamie only eats cold cereal every morning. At the group home, though they occasionally eat cold cereal, most mornings it’s pancakes or French toast or eggs, with bacon or sausage.
What song most describes you?
The song that most or best describes me is “Young at Heart,” of course sung by the one and only Frank Sinatra. We all get older every day. This body will wither and deteriorate, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We will all die one day. But if we are young at heart we can enjoy with abandon every year of our lives.
What’s the craziest tattoo you would ever get?
I can’t see myself ever getting a tattoo, so any tattoo would be crazy. If I had to get specific, I would say something with the caption, “born to be wild,” because that is the antithesis of my personality. Perhaps in a turn of whimsy, I would get “born to be mild.”
Have you ever written yourself into a story?
I have never written a character that is identical to me, but I think every story has a character or characters who share some similar traits with me. All writing is somewhat autobiographical. Anyone who denies that they get at least partially written into their stories is either lying or trying very hard to avoid doing that. In the latter case, I’m not so sure it still doesn’t happen.