Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Caroline Bock - Author of BEFORE MY EYES and LIE
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Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES

CONGRATS to SHANNA M. from Central City, KY!

Shanna M. from Kentucky won the goodreads giveaway of a signed first edition of LIE.  Now, goodreads is a great site to talk about books.  Over 900 people entered this contest.  Yet, as I inscribe a copy of LIE to Shanna, put it in the mail (U.S. mail, first class, Shanna), I am wondering what she will think of LIE.  Kentucky is a long way from where my novel is set -- Long Island.   I'm packing up my novel for her, carefully, with some trepidation.   I'm thinking what is life in KY for Shanna and how she will relate to the lives I depicted in LIE?

Will she be able to relate to teens who have been out 'beaner-hopping,' their word for beating up Hispanics for fun, and the terrible aftermath of one of their weekly sprees?  Does she realize that LIE was inspired by true events on Long Island?   Why did she chose LIE, or is she someone who enters all the contests on goodreads, and this is just the one she happened to win?   

Shanna, I'm sending you LIE and I hope you read it closely.   This is a book that needs to be read slowly, you need to put the pieces together.  I hope you find meaning in it  (not answers, I'm not big on moralizing), but I hope you find the characters compelling and their questions and struggles real.  If you like books, check out goodreads.  Maybe someday, I'll do another LIE giveaway.   


Dear Teen Me:   I was asked to write this letter -- a letter to my teen self by the terrific publicist at St. Martin's Press for LIE.  Like many of us, I had a lot of issues as a teen, and like some, sadness, thinking it would never be over, I'd never grow up  (but here I am, so I did!).  Even so, this 'letter' is a little raw.  But then, I'm not good at sugar-coating lives, fictional ones, or true ones.   Maybe that's why I write?  Anyway, since you may find it on the web anyway, here it is:

Where to find a signed copy of LIE... VORACIOUS READER

Rainy night in Larchmont, New York, up in Westchester County.  Too much rain.  The kind of rains that flood highways and basements and turn over root-rotted trees, and decks us all in mold for days.  Send this rain to Texas, we've had enough around here.  All this rain for two 'Island Girl,' readings --two young adult novels -- mine set on Long Island and Tara Altebrando's evocative work set on Coney Island.  See us in pic!!  Yet a wonderful, warm turnout at the Voracious Reader on Palmer Avenue in Larchmont, New York.   Special kudos to owner Francine for organizing!  And if you are interested the Voracious Reader has several signed copies (first editions!!) of LIE at their store !!


Last night, I watched the very compelling documentary "Light In the Darkness," on my PBS station.  Produced by the grassroots anti-hate organization, Not In Our Town, this documentary strives to tell the story of the Marcelo Lucero murder and the affect of this terrible murder by a group of teens on the town of Patchogue-Medford in Long Island.  I think it covered a lot of ground in a very effective way; it told the story of a town, working very hard to find 'answers' on how to move forward after a vicious hate crime. 

As I watched, I thought again, for the hundredth time,  why did it happen here, on Long Island?  Why, in this very decent middle class suburb?  What were these kids, their parents, their teachers, the principal, the police thinking before, during, after the crime?   How could these kids, and they were all high school kids --  on a regular basis, often on a weekly basis by their own admission-- beat up Hispanics at random -- for no reason other than that they were Hispanic -- why did this happen here?

Some may find this book 'difficult.'  Yes, it deals with a 'difficult' subject: Racism in American suburbs. What can I say?  It's true.  It's inspired by real hate crimes -- most notably. the murder of Marcelo Lucero on Long Island in November of 2009.  He was stabbed and beaten to death by a group of teenagers, who called the weekly sprees, 'beaner-hopping.'   If you are looking for a beach read, this isn't it.  If you want the next paranormal romance with vampires/zombies/werewolves, this isn't it.      

Some may say that there are too many characters.  There are 10 distinct first person points of views, including five teen and five adult, including three Hispanics.   I felt compelled to delve into, through multiple voices, the psychology of this town.  Each person is grappling, often desperately alone, with the aftermath of this crime.  I feel this is the story of a community as much as anyone individual.  I did not interview or even attempt to interview anyone from the town.  This is where I felt fiction had to take over.  I had to create characters so I could explore their motivations, pain, angst, anger, grief, struggle to do right or not. The main character, Skylar and Sean, are grappling with big questions of morality, of right and wrong, of  keeping quiet, or outright lying. 

According to the documentary, the 'real' high school kids in Patchogue-Medford struggled with this too -- they kept their code of silence.  No high school kid came forward to tell an adult about what they knew about these repeated, often weekly, sprees.  This  sentiment is echoed strongly in one character, Lisa Marie, who repeatedly says, "Everyone knows, nobody's talking."  I had read or heard about this community 'shut down' and it came alive in this line.

All through writing my debut young adult novel, I kept asking myself how could this happen?  Not only how could these beatings happen, but how could everyone keep silent?  This crime wasn't an isolated hate crime.  I knew that from my research of news articles.  I did know from research with the Southern Poverty Law Center, who I thank in my novel, that, not only could this happen here, but there had been a pattern of hate crimes on Long Island -- and a pattern of police indifference.  The police in the area routinely ignored or lacked follow up on crimes against Hispanics, that too was in the documentary and has been in several news reports.  But it also cried out to me to have a policeman in my story basically saying this.  Currently, in real life, the federal government is conducting a probe of the Suffolk County police department based on their conduct in hate crimes.  To their credit, according to the documentary and news reports, the Suffolk County Police are taking many steps toward rectifying this situation.

At every turn, I felt that each character embodied some small truth that fit into the larger picture, and only that way, with multiple voices, could a fuller picture of this community be drawn.  Of course, then each character had to be as fully developed a character as I could write.   You will not find 'easy' good or bad characters in the story, every character is multidimensional, struggling to find answers.   In one way, I hope LIE, is an 'Our Town," for the 21st century.

Yes, LIE is not an easy book.  I didn't write it to be easy.   It's not a comfortable, cozy read.   There are lots of those books around, if that's what you want, and I read them too.  But I am hoping LIE will offer a radically different reading experience.  I hope it will make the reader think: What would I have done in I was in Skylar's place?  If I was in Sean's place?  Or, if I'm an adult reading this, if I was their father, or mother, or teacher, or Coach, what would I have done or said?   No one, none of the ten characters has all the answers at the end, not even the writer.   You may not 'like' all these characters, but I hope the reader gives themselves permission to live with them for a while, to argue with them, to feel what they are feeling.

Ultimately, this well-made documentary, "Light in the Darkness," brought a lot of light on this town, on hate and racism in the suburbs.  I just wish it had gone further.  But a hour is a very short time to go very deep in television.   That's the role of fiction, or at least my fiction.

I urge you to read LIE, and judge for yourself, how much farther fiction must go.


So strange and wonderful to have my first Q&A article on writing LIE -- on whether I did research or not, on why one of the key characters is left out of his own point of view (teaser, need to read book, or article!!)  -- all in this Sunday's Newsday!!

PACKED BOOK REVUE EVENT TONIGHT! Thank you all for coming!!


Thank you to all who came out to celebrate the launch of LIE at the wonderful BOOK REVUE in Huntington, NY.  Thank you to the cousins, who I haven't seen in a long, long time, coming from Queens to wish me well (and they even bought a book)!!   To Kim and Andrea traveling from Westchester and Ann Y. traveling from Brooklyn.  Thank you to Richard for being the 'photographer' and for my two kids, Michael and Sara, for behaving as well as they did -- they made their mother proud!!  Thank you to the so many people who came out because they've already heard about LIE.  Over 75 people showed up on a Friday night at Book Revue and took over the store!!  News 12 Long Island even covered the event!!  A special call out to Anne at Book Revue, who did an amazing job,  and JESSICA at St. Martin's Press for setting it all up!   Thank you for everyone who bought a book! I will always remember this night!!    

Friday. 16th. 7-9 pm. Book Revue. In Huntington.

Panic.  My first reading/signing for LIE is tomorrow at Book Revue.  What do I read?  Will anyone come?  What if they ask me questions I can't answer?  Remember the Eugene Ionesco quote above your desk to say:  "Why do people always expect authors to answer questions?  I am an author because I want to ask questions.  If I had answers I'd be a politician."   That works. What else??   Anyway, hope to see a few friendly faces there!!  

LIE stretches to CHICAGO!! "Brilliant piece of work... Required reading"

"(LIE)....It is a brilliant piece of work and, in this day and age, should be required reading in every high school. As if uncovering one's most private secret and leaving it on the front lawn, Bock lays open the extent to which most high schoolers will follow the "cool" guy even  when they know better..." For the entire review go to Chicago Examiner  September 14, 2011.  This review focuses on the influence of the high school athlete... Jimmy and Sean in LIE...what influence do your local high school athletes have?  I thought about that a lot when writing LIE.

Roger Ebert and Michael Moore... and LIE

Both Roger Ebert and Michael Moore are coming out with memoirs tomorrow... okay, so that's interesting you say, but at Bravo and IFC I worked closely with both these 'big,' super-smart, intense, quirky Midwestern men who love the movies. I wonder if I buy/read their memoirs will they buy/read LIE?  And isn't it weird that they're both coming out on the same day?  I can't wait to read!!

Why do I keep thinking of the line - where were you when the lights went out? I want it to be September 12

I think it will take 20 or 25 years for someone to write the "great" 9/11 novel... though even in LIE I mention 9/11 and keep turning it over in my head the idea of heroes.  Who's a hero and who isn't? 
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