Name: Timothy Collins
Twitter Handle: @DarkNovelistTim
Title: TRADING STITCHES
Genre: YA Horror
Word Count: 85,000
My Main Character's Most Stressful Relationship is:
Marc, the main character, struggles to understand his alcoholic father. Since his mother’s death, Marc seeks acceptance and approval but finds only riddles and anger in his father’s words. Good grades, responsibility, and kindness come natural to Marc but adds nothing to life according to his dad because the family is cursed. After his father’s suicide, Marc becomes obsessed with making sense of his father’s words while still striving to make his father proud. Questionable decisions place he and his friends in harm’s way, but Marc will stop at nothing, not even death, to make his father proud.
With every near-death incident, the men in fifteen-year-old Marc Cheeks’ family are rewarded with increasing superhuman strength, but whatever fatal darkness lies inside grows as well.
Alcoholism consumes his father. Insanity institutionalizes his uncle. Cancer stole his grandfather. Following a near-fatal stabbing, Marc fears what awaits him.
After his dad commits suicide to escape a deep pit of depression, Marc enlists the help of friends and his crazy uncle Lester to decipher his father’s last words, “It doesn’t have to be a curse.” A cryptic family journal offers Marc his only lead: a person defined as a curse-ending soulmate. Uncle Lester has his own theories on a cure, but he’s not willing to share with Marc and defers to the written pages.
The journal teaches Marc methods to cheat death and grow stronger, but pieces of himself slip away into violence and apathy. He’s becoming the worst parts of his father and his uncle, and the collateral damage includes a body count. Forced to make a desperate plea to Lester, Marc discovers his uncle believes he can ultimately cure his own insanity by killing Marc.
To save himself and his friends, Marc must defeat an uncle more dangerous than crazy and find his soulmate before the family curse claims another victim.
I slouched low in the cracked leather passenger’s seat seeking refuge from judgmental eyes.
“Did I really need to starch this shirt?” I yanked the collar’s scratchy fibers away from my neck.
“I don’t know, Marc.” Dad fluttered his whiskey chapped lips. “That’s a question for your mom.”
He only mentioned Mom when he didn’t want to answer a question.
Wasn’t there some rule people didn’t use a kid’s dead mother against them?
Dad didn’t get the memo.
The Nissan’s balding tires skidded into the school’s gravel parking lot. The rickety fender clung to the truck by a single rusty screw, a painful daily reminder of the past four years. It begged to be fixed, but Dad ignored it.
He sought refuge in denial.
The truck jerked to a stop and Dad leaned back pinching the bridge of his crooked nose. “Do other dudes hear you talk like this? It’s gonna get you beat up.”
“How’s that different from any other day?”
“Guys pestering you?” His stare followed a cheerleader’s skirt.
“It’s called bullying.” The broken handle jiggled in my palm as I struggled to open the door. “Like you care.”
“Wait a minute!” He slammed the faded dashboard. I didn’t flinch. I was used to it by now. “I do care. Besides, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right?”
I rolled my eyes. “No one believes that, Dad.”
“I do. Your grandfather did,” he said. “One day you will, too.”
Dead grandfather card for the win.