We are pleased to have an interview today with
the HERO form Punishment Summer !
Hi Ben and welcome!
What do you do for a living?
Work on my dad’s farm growing pot.
What is your greatest fear?
Dad getting arrested.
What do you wear when you go to sleep?
Boxers in the summer, sweat pants in the winter.
What is your most prized possession?
Dad bought me a Marlin 336XLR deer rifle for my eighteenth birthday. The thing’s crazy accurate up to 200 yards and costs around $900, so believe me, I take real good care of it.
Who was your first girlfriend/boyfriend and what do you like most about them?
My first serious girlfriend was Katie Wing. She was pretty, but not vain about it. And man, she could skin a rabbit in under a minute and track a deer like she was a ghost. We’d spend entire days out in the woods together. But she was also big into crystals and a lot of woo-woo stuff I thought was stupid. So we finally went our separate ways.
Did you have a pet as a child? What happened to it? How did you feel about that?
When I first moved in at Dad’s, he had this gassy old hound dog called Jeremiah. Jeremiah wasn’t allowed in Ben or Dad’s room, but I let him sleep on the foot of my bed every night. Having him there, made it feel like this was home. And pretty soon it was. He was already kind of gimpy and only lasted two more years. But he was a great dog. Had a big heart. I still miss him, but at least he had a good long life.
What do you think your greatest weakness is?
I’m willing to keep my mouth shut and turn a blind eye when people I care about break the law. But, in my business, maybe that’s actually one of my strengths.
What do you think is your strongest attribute?
See above – maybe?
What are you proudest of?
Helping Nicki when things got tough. I gave her some information I wasn’t supposed to, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Then I made sure she’d be safe when she got back to her gramp’s cabin.
What embarrasses you?
I don’t like not being able to tell folks what I do for a living. What crop we grow. Lying to people. When they fix the law, life’ll be a lot easier.
What is something no one knows about you? Why do you keep it a secret? And what would happen if everyone found out about it?
Our crop is kind of a well-known secret – in certain circles. But, if it became general knowledge, Dad could wind up in jail. We’d probably lose our home, lose our land. I don’t even want to think about that.
What do you find most appealing in men/women?
I like a woman who can take care of herself and has got some backbone. A nice pair of legs doesn’t hurt either.
What do you find most unappealing in men/women?
People who only think about themselves. They’re boring.
What do you like most about where you live?
Our home is in a clearing, surrounded by trees, so we get all kinds of wildlife coming through. Some I hunt, some I just like looking at.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Sunday?
Rain or shine, seven days a week, I’ve got to go out and take care of the crops. Since our cash crop is in the greenhouses, it’s not a bad deal. The rain’s plinking on the roof, but me and the plants are dry inside. Until I’ve got to hoof it back to the house.
What is your vivid memory of your mother and father?
The day Mom brought me to Dad’s to live. Until I was twelve, I lived with her and visited Dad every summer. Then she met Joel. After they’d been going out about six months, he told her he’d marry her, but only if I wasn’t around. End of the school year, she drove me to Dad’s. I remember how she crouched down and told me I’d understand some day. It’s been six years and I still haven’t talked to her.
What is your least favorite word?
Fortuitous. My mom’s boyfriend used it all the time. I was twelve and didn’t know what it meant. When I finally looked it up, I was like, You can’t just say ‘lucky’?
What sound or noise do you love?
The call of the Mountain Quail. It’s this sort of two-note whistle, kind of sounds like ‘quee-ark’. I guess it’s the sound of home.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The high-pitched whine of mosquitoes. And, yeah, I get that the noise is what warns you’re about to be bit, but it’s such a nag of a sound.
What other profession would you like to try?
Dad needs me on the farm, so that’s the plan. But, I’m good at math and with my hands. If things were different, I’d like to go to college, maybe study architecture.
What would you not like to do?
Do you believe in ghosts/evil spirits/mysticism? Would you spend the night in a remote haunted house?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning. Growing up on a farm, you get used to rising at sunup.
Would you ever use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone?
I don’t believe in that stuff, but, even if I did, I’d rather face down someone I had a problem with.
What is your most favorite memory?
The time Nicki and I hiked up to The Knob and then kissed.
If you knew a zombie apocalypse was coming in one week, what would you do?
Wait for them to come. We’ve got plenty of food canned, plenty of weapons and ammo. When they show up, Ben, my dad and me’ll fight them off.
How do you react when people sing “Happy Birthday” to you in a restaurant?
I remember thinking it was fun, but it hasn’t happened since I was nine or ten. We don’t have any restaurants in Punishment, CA, and always celebrate at home.
What’s your favorite animal?
Nicki’s dog Queenie. She’s a German shepherd and a super-smart air tracker.
Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo, what would it be and where? If not, what if you had to?
I’ve got a tattoo of a pot leaf on my right shoulder blade. My brother Ben’s got one, so I did it, too. Stupid. But, I’m not about to pay to have it removed.
What do you admire about your parents?
My dad home schooled me and my half-brother while running the farm. He organized our school days so we could work on the crop then do some school work – back and forth like that.
What’s the worst/weirdest thing you did as a kid?
When Joel moved in with us, I threw out his underpants. Not right away or all at once. It took a couple weeks for him to show his true colors. And by then it was too late. Mom was…a different person. So, once I saw the real Joel, one or two pairs of his briefs would find their way into a trash can at school each week. Stupid, I know. But when I was twelve, it felt pretty good.
Thanks again for visiting with us today !!!!
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Evernight Teen Publishing
Sixteen-year-old Nicki is sent to stay at her grandfather’s cabin near the town of Punishment in the Mendocino Forest. As always, she hides her burn scars and keeps quiet about the mother who ran out on her. But soon after arriving, she begins to suspect Grandpa is also keeping secrets. Her exile brings an unexpected bright spot—Grandpa’s German shepherd, Queenie. The hunky neighbor boy’s another plus, though she quickly starts to doubt his honesty.
From secret pot farms to human trafficking, Nicki discovers nothing in the ‘Mendo’ is what it seems. When Grandpa takes off and the lives of new friends are endangered, Nicki must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect those she cares about. Before summer ends, Nicki will learn there are some choices she can’t undo.
It’s a good thing Grandpa taught her how to shoot.
Follow the tour HERE
The hill climb seemed endless. Up, up, up we went, keeping beneath the cover of trees and shrubs. Other than the fact that Queenie periodically growled at Ben, the dog seemed to enjoy the journey. Though the pine-scented air felt cooler under the trees, my T-shirt soon became soaked with sweat. I wanted to take a drink from my canteen and pour some water into my palm for Queenie, but worried about the etiquette. Would I have to offer Ben a drink? I wasn’t sure I wanted to swap germs with the guy. I longed to ask how much farther we had to go, but held off. He sounded pissed enough the last time I asked. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and continued climbing.
Ben stopped, held up his hand. He leaned in, his body heat adding to the day’s warmth as he whispered in my ear. “We gotta keep real quiet now. Watch where you step. Try to make as little noise as possible.” He moved off, walking in a strange semi-crouch.
I tried to mimic his stance as I followed. He stopped at the hill’s crest and knelt behind a tree. I hunkered down in his shadow, my arm around Queenie. Below us stretched rows and rows of bright green plants. Slender pines edged the field. Two men walked between the rows, the height of the crop almost to their knees. The large buds on the branches of the closest plants were easy to spot. Each man carried a plastic jug, dribbling liquid on the crop rows as they passed. The nearer of the two wore khakis plus a dirt-and sweat-stained undershirt. The distant man looked more pulled together: short-sleeved shirt tucked into his pants, hair tidy.
From what I could see, other people had spent time in the clearing, too. Maybe even lived there. Hammocks hung between half a dozen trees. Empty food cans rusted in a pile. The remains of an old campfire sat surrounded by cooking pans, food wrappers, and discarded cigarette packs. On the far side of the field sat a trash heap. Two men didn’t make a mess this size.
Black hoses ran between the rows of plants into the woods beyond. Now that we had settled in our spot for a couple minutes, the odor hit me. The place smelled like an outhouse.
Queenie’s body tensed, but she stayed silent. I leaned down and rubbed my cheek against the top of her head.
Gemma once tried growing a couple pot plants behind her garage. A gardening crew took care of their property and her parents never went behind that building. But none of the plants I’d seen before looked like this. Star-shaped clusters rose toward the sky, the glossy leaves reflecting back the sun’s rays. I stared at the sheer size of the growing area and tried to calculate the number of trees someone had chopped down. This was no home patch. This was a huge commercial operation. Ben warned me, but I hadn’t believed him.
Now I knew. We were in way over our heads.
About the Author
A native Californian, Peggy Rothschild grew up in Los Angeles. Always a mystery-lover, she embraced the tales of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys before moving on to the adult section of the library. An English major in high school, she switched to art – her other passion – in college. Peggy has authored two adult mysteries, CLEMENTINE’S SHADOW and ERASING RAMONA. PUNISHMENT SUMMER is her first young adult novel.
At present, Peggy and her husband live in the beach community of Ventura with their cats – who are always willing to rip apart any pages they feel aren’t up to snuff. In her spare time she can be found drawing and painting, or out in the yard weeding, pruning, and generally getting messy.
Giveaway: $25 Amazon GC.