My first literary novel is available now!
It’s been a busy autumn for me. My most recent horror novel, Mother, was released in October. In November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and produced a 61,000+ word novel called Yes or No, and then, in early December, came my first mainstream literary novel, The Teacher.
The Teacher is about a middle-aged educator named Andrew Clausing. He teaches at a low-income diverse high school in south Oklahoma City. He’s the department chairman and Student Council sponsor. His dedication to his job has cost him his marriage and the love of his teenage daughter. Andrew is having a secret affair with a co-worker, but otherwise his only love is for teaching his students. The trouble starts when one of his students decides she wants Andrew to be more than a father figure.
Naturally, people will ask me how much of this book is true. The answer is, virtually none of it. Is Andrew based on me? Yeah. Are the other characters based on real people? Hmm, let’s say some of their characteristics are inspired by people I knew or taught at a previous school. Very few of the events that happen in the story happened in real life. I was still married when I wrote the book in 2014-2015. I never had an affair with a co-worker. No student ever set me up like Kelley, the girl in the story, did to Andrew.
A few of the conversations in the novel are real. The attitude of the school administrators toward sex scandals is based on how my former employer handled the several real incidents we had. One of the social media posts is a direct quote from a former student, with Andrew’s name substituted for my own. At one point, Andrew’s mother warns him he shouldn’t be so close to his students because one might turn on him, and that is a conversation I had with my own mother. Sadly, my own daughter did resent my relationship with a set of female students in a class I sponsored and that hurt our relationship. I drew on that for this story.
During the writing of Yes or No an old friend asked if that story is autobiographical. I half-jokingly told him that every novel is autobiographical if you peel back enough layers. The story of Andrew Clausing is fiction, but the emotions he feels are very real. The euphoria, pride, and frustration of teaching and dealing with teenagers and administrators is all real. The despair and loneliness and loss of control in his personal life are all real, too.
The only question that really matters, though, is this: Is it a good story? I think it is. The first couple of reviews on Amazon are both 5 stars. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide. You can find the book here.