I’ve got something super fun for all of you today as part of our “Scenes with Fathers” theme for the month. Author Jennifer Fischetto shares a scene from her YA novel I Spy Dead People. From what I’ve read, it sound hilarious, and I know it’ll be on my TBR list. I’m always looking for books with some humor! I hope you enjoy her excerpt. If you do, scroll on down to find where you can get your own copy and maybe leave a comment for her (or me). You’re also more than welcome to check out some of the other excerpts that have come in so far this month.
I SPY DEAD PEOPLE by Jennifer Fischetto
Horror movie and junk-food junkie, fifteen-year-old Piper Grimaldi wishes for three things:
1. to help her true crime novelist father solve a mystery,
2. to settle down and make one town their home, and
3. to have a social life, which includes a BFF and a boyfriend (even if she’s not allowed to date for another year).
It looks like her dreams will come true when on the first day in Hollow Ridge, MA, she befriends her next-door neighbor, mauls a cute boy, and spies on teen soap star, Linzy Quinn. But then the boy rejects her kiss, and Piper finds Linzy’s dead body. To make matters worse (as if that’s possible), Linzy’s ghost appears, in full color, and won’t leave Piper alone.
Piper desperately wants to help Linzy move into that darn light, but Linzy’s more interested in seeking revenge on all the people she believes did her wrong … including the person who killed her. If Piper can’t find Linzy’s killer, she just may be the next true-crime victim of Hollow Ridge.
Fifteen-year-old Piper Grimaldi and her father just moved to Hollow Ridge, MA. Dad is a true crime novelist, and they travel around the country so he can research his books. One book per year. A new town and state every school year. It's the summer before Piper's sophomore year. They've just moved into their new rental house, and they are at the grocery store. They last lived in Atlanta, GA. Piper is on Rollerblades, and she's not very experienced.
The lay of the land, as Dad put it, looks like every other suburban land we've encountered in the last eight years. We've been moving around since I was four, when Dad decided it would be easier to research his books up close and personal rather than cross-country via Internet and phone calls. I often wonder if part of the reason was because my older brother, Vincent Jr., had died, and Dad just wanted out of our house and hometown. At first Dad went after murders from anywhere, but he didn't like city life, and the country was too quiet, so he devoted his last eight books to the 'burbs. Just as well, too. Those became bestsellers.
"Which was the hardest case you solved?" I ask Dad, as he steps and I roll out of Big Y to his car. Who names a grocery store Big Y? Then again, what's up with Piggly Wiggly?
"I'm not a detective. I don't solve cases. I just research and write about them."
But I notice the twinkle in his eye when he says "solve." "Come on, Dad. If you hadn't worked those clues in Georgia, the husband would've totally gotten away with her murder." Dad made the police look like Deputy Dewey, and my life suddenly became Scream 5. Okay, maybe not exactly. It's not like I had a crazy boyfriend with mommy issues slicing and dicing my friends, thank goodness. But the end of the school year was something we both anticipated, and we didn't wait until August, like usual, to move.
"So which was the hardest?"
Dad opens the hatch of his Subaru Forrester. "Georgia."
I knew it. I hand him the bag of eggs and bread. "What about the craziest?"
"Is this a new game?"
"Yes. There's only so many times you can say, 'I spy with my little eye…?'"
He chuckles and pushes the bag of cereal, chips, and frozen waffles beside the eggs. "The weirdest…"
"Not weird. Crazy, as in evil or sadistic."
He gives me a long stare. He hates when I talk about the crazies. Like if I mention it enough I'll become one. I just can't help it. The criminal mind fascinates me, and just because I'm not a legal adult doesn't mean I can't handle it. Nothing scares me. Not the dark, or spiders, or even clowns. Well, maybe knife wielding maniacs in hockey masks, but since I've only met one, and it was on my TV screen, I don't count it as a true fear.
"Only one percent of murders are committed by serial killers. It's rare."
On second thought, it is a bit scary how well Dad knows me.
"It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again." I use my special Buffalo Bill voice.
An older woman passes us and visibly scowls at me. At least she knows her films.
Dad shakes his head. "What have I told you about reciting horror movies in public?"
I lift the last bag out of the cart and push it into the back of the car. "Not to do it?"
He shuts the hatch. "Well, it's nice to know you're at least listening. Do you know where this goes?"
I grab the cart and direct it toward the place where carts gather, beneath the sign that states: Return Carts Here. It's not rocket science, Dad.
Deciding this is an awesome spot for a gold medal spin, I lean on my back wheels and take off. Feet in and out, around and around until the store and parking lot are a blur. I want to shout out, "wee," but that would alert Dad to my less than stellar public display, and I'd have to stop. So I stuff my "This Little Piggy" finale down and concentrate on controlling the spin.
Something dark approaches, something in the form of someone. Darn, it's probably an old lady in need of a cart, and I'm blocking them all.
"Sorry, one sec," I shout.
But as I attempt to slow down, and attempt means to do it very slow so I don't wipeout and land on my face, I realize it isn't an old person with the patience of…well, an old person. It looks like a young guy.
"Take your time." And his voice sounds cute.
Surprised and totally mortified that I look like a dweeb, I stop too abruptly and end up jerking forward. I reach my hands out to prevent permanent damage to my face and go down on my knee pads, right at his feet.
I look up and hope something witty will surface from my brain so I can kinda redeem myself.
He's totally my age, maybe a bit older, sportin' a wild afro that looks super soft, and a single dimple in his left cheek, beside a shy smile. Dark brown eyes to go with dark brown skin, and I'm suddenly counting down the days until I'm sixteen and I can date.
And that's when I realize my hands have landed, not on the ground, but on him.
On his faded, soft-from-too-many-washings jeans.
On both sides of his privates.
Jennifer Fischetto hears voices.
They tell her to wait in the dark for her next unsuspecting victim.
They tell her to kill.
She writes down every whisper, every threat promise to frighten.
“Write what you know” is easy when you’ve spent your life plotting murder and revenge on annoying classmates and nosy neighbors.
When not burying evidence in her yard, cooking another batch of poisonous brownies, or dealing with ghosts and other supernatural baddies, she sits in the corner of her creaky, damp basement, writing fun, humorous mysteries for teens and adults–to cover her tracks, so no one notifies the FBI or calls for a straitjacket.
Seen as a nice girl, her friends and family assume her books are filled with multiracial romance and journeys of strong, smart, sassy women and girls of all shapes and sizes.
Not dead bodies.
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.