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Author Discussion & Signing with John Copenhaver

Author: John Copenhaver

Title: Dodging and Burning

Date: September 29, 2018

Day: Saturday

Time: 2:00-4:00 PM


Title: Dodging and Burning


In the summer of 1945, Ceola Bliss is a lonely twelve-year-old tomboy, mourning the loss of her brother, Robbie, who was declared missing in the Pacific. She tries to piece together his life by rereading his favorite pulp detective story "A Date with Death" and spending time with his best friend, Jay Greenwood, in Royal Oak, VA. One unforgettable August day, Jay leads Ceola and Bunny to a stretch of woods where he found a dead woman, but when they arrive, the body is gone. They soon discover a local woman named Lily Vellum is missing and begin to piece together the threads of her murder, starting with the photograph Jay took of her abandoned body. As Ceola gets swept up playing girl detective, Bunny becomes increasingly skeptical of Jay, and begins her own investigation into the connection between Jay and Lily. She discovers a series of clues that place doubt on Jay's story about the photograph. She journeys to Washington, D.C., where she is forced to confront the brutal truth about her dear friend--a discovery that triggers a series of events that will bring tragedy to Jay and decades of estrangement between her and Ceola.

Me in hat.jpg

Author: John Copenhaver


I grew up in southwestern Virginia and graduated with my BA from Davidson College, MA in literature from Bread Loaf School of English, and a MFA in fiction from GMU, where I served as Executive Editor of the literary magazine PhoebeCurrently, I chair 7-12 English Department at Flint Hill, a college preparatory school, outside of Washington, DC, where I live with my partner Jeff and two ridiculously photogenic dogs, Winky and Roxy. (Really, the camera just loves them!)

Writing for me is about chasing ghosts and peeling off masks. I have Hanna-Barbera to thank for that. As a kid, I would dash home from school, grab a packet of Pop-Tarts and a bottle of Mountain Dew, and hurry to the living room as that all-too-familiar jingle announced my favorite show on TV—Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? I loved this show with such furor, such unadulterated pleasure. I loved it because Scooby and Shaggy were believers. They believed in the Creeper and the Snow Ghost, the Miner 49er and the Witchdoctor even though time and time again, the mask would be ripped off, and the gloriously paranormal would be reduced to some schmuck in a suit.

I wanted to believe in ghosts too. My father died when I was eight, and I was left with only an outline of a man, a phantom. Out of that void burgeoned my desire to write. My early compulsion to tell stories sprung from a need to fill in his outline, to uncover who he was. Throughout adolescence and my twenties, I continued chasing his ghost. During this time I married a woman, began teaching high school English, and established a conventional straight existence. But the more I pursued him, the more I realized it wasn't my father I was hoping to booby-trap and unveil, but myself. Then, much like hapless Scooby and Shaggy, I ensnared my own ghost and ripped the mask off—I came out of the closet and started living and writing truer to myself.

Now, instead of ripping off goofy latex masks, I pursue my phantoms as psychological metaphors, removing layers of deception and misdirection to unveil the truth about my characters.



Event date: 
Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Event address: 
7419 W. Madison Street
Forest Park, IL 60130
Dodging and Burning: A Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681776590
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pegasus Books - March 6th, 2018

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