Teenaged Clifton Carlson lives between two worlds as a bi-racial child. Years earlier he witnessed his African-American father being brutalized and killed by two cops during a traffic stop. Now he feels out of place, disconnected from others, and longs to make contact.
Second-time novelist Scott Loring Sanders said its not just young adult readers that will be able to relate to “Gray Baby,” the title of his new novel from Houghton Mifflin.
“The Hanging Woods” (2008) was well received, and the New River Valley novelist, is already shopping a third book through his agent. Sanders will sign copies of “Gray Baby” this Friday (June 12) at Barnes & Noble-Tanglewood Mall from 6:30 pm -8:30 pm.
“Not only is he dealing with his own personal identity, he’s dealing with racial issues within the town,” said Sanders of Clifton Carlson, whom he set at age 16. “Gray Baby” is set in a fictional New River Valley town, although Clifton sends out plaintive messages in bottles down the real New River, which Sanders characterized as “sort of a character itself. I like writing about this area.”
Along the way, he encounters a pivotal character, an older man nicknamed Swamper, and he also has to deal with an alcoholic mother. “He’s sort of searching for something,” said Sanders of Clifton. He especially liked fleshing out the Swamper character.
“I have no idea what I’m looking for,” writes Clifton in one of his notes, “but I know its something.” It’s not just teens that can relate said Sanders. “It’s definitely a book about evolving and changing, and not being too old necessarily to change.”
As dark as the book can be at times, Sanders said “Gray Baby” is also about hope.
“Clifton never really gets too down on himself. He’s kind of a survivor,” said Sanders.
Visit scottloringsanders.com for more information.