Book Title: TOGETHER WE ROT
Character Name: Wilhelmina “Wil” Greene
Tell me, Wilhelmina. What’s your family like? What about your childhood?
Just Wil please. (Kicking shoes onto the desk, arms crossed)
And I don’t know…things used to be fine. Better than fine, actually. Back when Mom was around, she had a way of making the world feel alive around her—we’d spend summer picking dandelions and drinking lemonade, sprucing up the walls of our family motel with painted handprints. For a hot second in my life, I’d actually say I was happy. Things went right to hell the moment she went missing. Now the paint is peeling, the lights are flickering, and the motel is a vacant eye sore off the road. Don’t even get me started on my father. The man’s in his room day in and day out drinking until he passes out. That’s all he knows how to do anymore. I’m the only one keeping anything glued together and I’m doing a godawful job at it.
(Noticing the interviewer staring at the muddy imprints of her sneakers)
What? No shoes on your desk? Fine.
So, what does the name “Elwood Clarke” mean to you?
I hate him more than anything—and that says a lot because I hate practically everything in this miserable town. He used to be one of my closest friends, but our friendship quickly dissolved after my mother’s disappearance. His parents are religious fanatics and the local church he’s a part of has been suspicious from the start. Between the moment I spotted his mother wearing my mom’s bracelet to the second where his father warned me off investigating, I knew his family had something to do with her case. Refusing to go against his parents, Elwood chose his loyalty to them over his friendship with me.
There’s been rumblings that the two of you used to be more than friends.
Who told you that? No, scratch that, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter because Elwood and I have never been together and never will be together and that’s final, case closed.
I heard he was your first kiss.
(bright red) Next question!
Okay then. How about an easy one, where do you live?
Pretty much the middle of nowhere. I’m talking all the way up in Yooper territory in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There’s more trees than people and the people that actually DO live here? You don’t want to meet them.
Would you describe them as your enemies?
Let’s just say the Clarke family’s church (cough) cult (cough) would gleefully dance on my grave. Is that clear enough for you?
Crystal clear. So about your investigation…how are you searching for evidence?
Depends, what’s your definition for stalking?
Excuse me? Um, I suppose if you were out there in the bushes with a set of binoculars?
(whistling suspiciously and looking away) Alright then, let’s just say I have my methods. Next question.
I take it that the case keeps you up at night?
100%. There’s not a moment in my day when I’m not obsessing over clues and evidence. It’s worse at night because a new fear latches onto me: the horrific possibility that my mother isn’t missing after all. That she’s dead. (gulps) But I can’t let myself think like that. I have to believe that she’s somewhere out there waiting for me and that I’ll bring the Clarke family to justice—with or without Elwood’s help.
A teen girl looking for the truth about her missing mother forms a reluctant alliance with her former best friend...in exchange for hiding him from his cult-leading family.
Wil Greene’s mom has been missing for over a year, and the police are ready to call the case closed—they claim she skipped town and you can’t find a woman who wants to disappear. But she knows her mom wouldn’t just leave…and she knows the family of her former best friend, Elwood Clarke, has something to do with it.
Elwood has been counting down the days until his 18th birthday—in dread. It marks leaving school and joining his pastor father in dedicating his life to their congregation, the Garden of Adam. But when he comes home after one night of after a final goodbye with his friends, already self-flagellating for the sins of drinking and disobeying his father, he discovers his path is not as virtuous as he thought. He’s not his father’s successor, but his sacrifice. For the woods he’s grown up with are thirsty, and must be paid in blood.
Now on the run from a family that wants him dead, he turns to the only one who will believe him: Wil. Together, they form a reluctant partnership; she’ll help him hide if he helps her find evidence that his family killed her mother. But in the end they dig up more secrets than they bargained for, unraveling decades of dark cult dealings in their town, led by the Clarke family.
And there’s a reason they need Elwood’s blood for their satanic rituals. Something inhuman is growing inside of him. Everywhere he goes, the plants come alive and the forest calls to him, and Wil isn’t sure if she can save the boy she can’t help but love.
Young Adult Romance | Young Adult Suspense [Viking Books for Young Readers, On Sale: August 29, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593526279 / ]
Skyla Arndt has always loved the creepy, crawly side of life. When she was younger, she thought that love might translate to hunting Bigfoot, but luckily for him, writing proved easier. Her debut novel, Together We Rot, is a YA horror about two estranged best friends who need to team up to confront an ancient evil in their neighboring woods.
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