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Thursday 3 March 2016

☀ A Whole Lot - Bradley Wind

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for A Whole Lot, a Young Adult Literary Fiction Novel by (, Kindle Press, 396 pages).

2015 Kindle Scout Winner

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below.  Read the first three chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

A Whole Lot is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Abel Velasco calculates many things. Things like the arc of falling sycamore leaves, the duration of a dog sneeze, or the number of times his aunt might hit him. He can’t help it – he’s a savant.

It is 1982. Abel has left foster care to live with his newly found relatives. His typical teenage struggles are compounded by the complication of his savant talents. Searching for a challenge, Abel becomes obsessed with the mysterious architecture of an abandoned mansion and strangely numbered Bible, launching his journey from suburban New Jersey to Berkeley, California and beyond.

Dr. Darold A. Treffert, author of "Extraordinary People," consultant for the movie "Rain Man" and expert on savant syndrome wrote to Bradley:
"Savant syndrome typically is present from birth as a part of some developmental disorder, including autism. But there are also cases of what I call "acquired savant" syndrome following head injury. The Acquired Savant raises interesting questions about the little Rain Man that might reside, perhaps, within us all."

Teaser: Excerpt


     I sense something divine in you. Yes, I do.

      In December 1666, the Chevalier de Terlon plucked a finger from the skeletal hand of the great mathematician René Descartes. When caught, de Terlon defended his theft as being worthy for, after all, it was the “instrument of the defunct’s immortal writings.” As documented in several of my favorite encyclopedias, Descartes was the father of modern philosophy and a key figure in the Scientific Revolution. No doubt he deserves respect, but I believe the finger theft a fitting tribute.
      Descartes was a real a-hole. He called animals automata, basically flesh robots, and thought them without souls. How horrid to think of him dissecting living dogs, doing so only to learn how their hearts beat. A finger bone taken postmortem appears minor when one considers all those lives he stole, but still, he is my greatest hero and possibly, when I turn thirteen next year, I’ll care less for dogs. Most adults seem uninterested in animals.
      I wish my neighbor, Mr. Sutkin, merely felt apathy toward his dog. He appears to hate Mister Scratch. Why own a dog you hate? Each time I see him hit Mister Scratch, I wish someone would steal Mr. Sutkin’s, pre-mortem.
      From my back porch, I watched Mister Scratch sniffing for a discreet bowel-relief location. Mr. Sutkin would beat him if he crapped in his own yard, or if he found him on the obsolete train tracks that ran behind our houses. The options left were our property or on the banks leading down to the tracks. Crapping on a slope was no easy feat, so he preferred our yard. I tried to signal him to go next to the clothesline—neither Mr. Sutkin nor Pigpie (my aunt) could see him there, and I could take care of his pile—but he was too busy sniffing to notice me.
      I dodged between the drying sheets to retreat from the breeze, pausing to smell the flowery detergent and experience the secret-passageway feeling that standing between sheets can give. Leaves flittered above, and the sheets started to whip against me. I considered sneaking a quick trip to the tree before mowing the lawn. The weather felt perfect for tree climbing.
      Mister Scratch finished up his business and came over to sniff me as I started toward the tracks. His scent reached me first. If you eat what you smell, which we all do, and you are what you eat, then part of me is Mister Scratch - while most would find that a disquieting fact, I breathe deeply when he’s near. He’s a bent-tailed mutt who’s mostly beagle with conceivably some German shepherd, and he follows me all over the yard whenever we’re outside. He stopped at the slope, as he always does, and I waved good-bye as I climbed down.
      A dirt trail detoured off the main path and wound through dense weeds and brushwood. Few could navigate it, especially not heavyset individuals. One had to keep alert to each root, rock, and thorny twig, but the path ended at a worthy destination: a giant old sycamore with a slat ladder nailed to the trunk.
      At the seventh slat, I knew AC/DC Rocks and followed the directions to Keep Going!! At the eleventh, my heart doubted the truth that Alan ♥ Lisa and they had True Luv Always. At the seventeenth slat, the writing on the board unnecessarily tipped me to being high in the sky with a little marijuana leaf drawn next to it. It was somewhat frightening to climb this far above the ground into such an old tree, but I always focused on the ladder’s words until I rested in her huge limbs. The gold and still-greenish leaves enveloped me as I dug my fingernails into the bark. After five minutes of careful climbing, the branches went rubbery, a stoplight signaling to go no farther. I did a quick scan for anyone who might see me.
      Last May 19, 1981, when I first climbed the tree, Mr. Sutkin with his overgrown mustache and gray, greasy hair roared at me, “Get down here, that’s too high!” I listened, of course. A couple of limbs hung over part of his property, but since the tree didn’t actually grow on it, I knew he didn’t have final say. I could take a shortcut across Mr. Sutkin’s property to get to the tree, but Mr. Sutkin is a bit of a neighborhood busybody, and I don’t like having to answer his questions if I don’t have to. What he does for a living remains a mystery, as does why he knows so much about trees. If the information he shared wasn’t neighborhood gossip, it was often about trees. I’ve meant to research its veracity. He told me how tree roots mirror the tree’s crown, that is, the roots grow down as deep as trees grow tall. It doubles the monumental quality of their size when you think of them that way and created tree fractions for me, the earth dividing numerator limbs from denominator roots. Occasionally, I torture myself imagining what it’d feel like standing in my mirrored position, breathing in cold earth and worms on those denominators far below the forest floor.
      In the blustery fall wind high above it all, you can feel the earth pulling and the blue sky pulling and you are free. I counted yellow leaves for a while before I began forcefully hurling breezes with my eyelashes, propelling clouds to slide shadows on top of Pigpie’s roof. I drove small flocks of starlings from a telephone line to mess with Mister Scratch’s nap, and without any effort, unintentionally summoned Russell.
      Russell Ghety wove down Overbrook Road on his three-speed Huffy, dumped it at our secret spot, and ran to the sycamore. The leaves and wind were creating so much noise, I couldn’t make out what he repeatedly sang until he arrived at the branches beneath me.
      “Flip it right, flip it baby, flip it rye-right!”
      “Uh, you sang, you sang the wrong words,” I said.
      “Hey, Apple, what?”
      Russell has never used the name my mother gifted me, which is Abel. I wasn’t bothered because it reminded me of how she used to say I was the Abel of her eye, a clever twist on the Deuteronomy derived phrase. “It’s, ah, it’s whip not flip and all night, not, uh, rye-right.”
      “It’s in my head going round and round.” Russell looked at me with slight annoyance and continued singing, “Oh-hoo-hoo!”
      He could maybe compete with ravens in the mellifluous-voice department.
      Russell is so dumb, he’d probably try to put M& M’s in alphabetical order, but he could sniff me out even if I only had a couple of hours to spend. I’m not being an a-hole, honestly. His stupidity is all genetics, nothing to blame him for. Russell flunked the fifth grade and took a late bus home from his school because he got extra tutoring. It was the first thing he told me about himself when we met. He also mentioned his propensity for producing spittle. The latter he attributed to having an incredibly powerful tongue, which I considered commendable, a positive twist on the substantial derision I’d witnessed him absorb for the globs that formed on the corners of his mouth. I’ve since found the spittle occurs mainly but not only when he’s nervous or upset.
      “Feel that breeze, man. Oh, we might get knocked down, don’cha think?” Russell hugged the branch, his thin frame hardly bent, and looked out over the trees.
      No, I didn’t think, but I nodded, anyway.
      “You could lay a gasser up here and no one would know! Hey, didja see it?” Russell asked, referring to the fort we’d been searching for since the Fourth of July. We’d overheard Kevin Groter’s sister Gwen mention it at the fairgrounds.
      “Next week for the mansion, right?”
      He’s been talking about going to the abandoned Pierson mansion “next week” since I met him, but we never have. You could see part of the roof from our current and regular spot at the top of the sycamore. The neighborhood mythology surrounding the mansion, and the murders that took place there, is quite compelling, and I will likely explore it one day, with or without him.
      “OK, you ready? I’m ready. Go!” Russell shouted without prompting— the start to our normal game. His fingers went to his temples, and he stared intently at me. Russell was a dreadful-looking individual with a pinched face made even worse by his almost-black Russian-politician eyebrows, massive and hairy. He’s likely doomed to inherit his father’s full-blown brow shrubs before his twenties.
      The game’s rules were simple: We had to stay quiet and try to read each other’s minds. One of us would say, “Done,” wait for the other to agree, and exchange what we’d mystically extracted, which ended the game. Usually, it lasted closer to three minutes, but Russell immediately started swaying the branches, impatient to tell me whatever it was he wanted me to read.
      “Done!” Russell shouted.
      He always said “Done” first. “
      “You were thinking about Mr. Suckin, right?” Russell enjoyed the altered pronunciation.
      I shook my head no.
      “Your turn. What am I thinkin’?”
      I looked at his Adam’s apple, “Food?”
      “Shit no. Try again.”
      “Uhhh, okay, okay TV. Mork and Mindy, Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams, Pam Dawber.”
      “No, time’s up. I was thinking about how I heard they’re putting in an arcade where the old Laundromat used to be.”
      I glanced at the leaves that suddenly started whooshing next to us again. “
      You wanna go see if it’s true?” Russell asked.
      I wished we could be better friends, but mostly he’s just another person my age to spend time with. I listen to him talk, and he listens to me, but it’s like the time I told him, “To you, 5,329 is just a five, a three, a two, and a nine, but I say, ‘Hi, seventy-three squared.’” He responded with, “I hate Paul Lynde. He’s such a gay bird. Circle gets a square!”
      Having watched many episodes of the comedy gameshow Hollywood Squares when I lived with my first foster family, the Dersteins, I had to disagree. I loved Paul Lynde. He’s one of the best comedians on the show, a real “gut buster,” as Mrs. Derstein used to say. But on one occasion, she called him and Jim Nabors very feminine, so possibly Russell was on to something.
      “Well, you wanna go, or do you want to stare at fuckin’ bark all day?” Russell asked again.
      “Let’s go,” I said with a clap for emphasis.
      Halfway down the tree, the calls started. Russell ignored them until we got to the ground, and he shouted back with irate force. “Coming!”
      Again, his mother shouted, hanging on the last l from his name long enough for the neighborhood to take notice. Russell adjusted his heavily faded Darth Vader T-shirt and shouted, “Coming, I said!” and added, “Fuck me, shit,” in a forced whisper with his nose scrunched. “Take the bike, and check it out if you want, but call me later about what you find.” He karate punched toward the tree with both fists before wiping his mouth and starting home.
      It immediately occurred to me I still needed to mow the lawn, and I had lucked out with Russell’s mother calling. I glanced at my watch and worried that Pigpie would be ready with some punishment for not having started already.

A Whole Lot
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About the Author

Bradley Wind was born and raised in Pennsylvania. A prolific visual artist whose work has exhibited in the 20th century wing of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He worked as a toy designer for K'nex Industries, a manager of IT for Pearl S. Buck International and is currently a director of IT for a child-focused non-profit. He keeps bees, raises chickens and two lovely girls with his wife in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

A Whole Lot is his début novel.

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