OPERATION TREE ROPER: An Eye Above is my debut middle grade novel.
Heavily influenced by my one-eyed daughter and my experiences as an ISA Certified Arborist, Tree Roper tells the story of twelve-year-old Declan Parker and his summer goal of climbing for his father’s tree care company in order to earn money for the cosmetic surgery that will “fix” his face. Though Declan’s mom is on his side, Declan’s father is not sure surgery is necessary for his smart, strong, and capable son. Plus, it’s expensive, and the tree care company is barely paying the bills as it is.
As the summer begins, Declan’s father injures himself during a routine tree pruning job, landing him in the hospital and jeopardizing the company. The accident also puts Declan’s surgery hopes in serious doubt.
When Declan enlists a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran, to try to save the tree company, he faces difficult choices about himself, his family, and their future.
Are you a plotter or a free writer?
I prefer to free write, then revise heavily. Very. Heavily.
Is your book part of a series or a standalone?
Operation Tree Roper was written as a standalone, but there’s been some chatter among the characters for a sequel. We’ll see what develops when I’m done with my current project.
Do you require silence when writing or do you listen to music?
Hahahahaha! Sorry, but you said “silence.” I live with my wife, our seven children, our six cats, two dogs, and guinea pig. It’s only quiet when, um, it’s actually never quiet for long around here. Therefore, I write late at night and usually wear earbuds while my iPod playlist croons away.
Are you writing your next book? Can you share a little about it?
My current project is another middle grade novel. In FIELD EVENTS, a girl’s father gets sent to prison for growing marijuana in the family cornfields. It’s about a dirt-bike riding country girl trying to reconcile with her father while navigating issues of love, betrayal, trust, hope, and forgiveness.
How long were you writing before getting a publishing contract?
I’d spent over two years on Tree Roper before I received a contract to publish, but I’d been writing picture books for a couple of years before that.
When does your book release?
Tree Roper released in the fall of 2014 from Anaiah Press and has been well-received, particularly among the educator/librarian crowd.
Thanks for the opportunity to share a little about my book! –Rob Polk