TRUMBULL, Conn. – By any definition, Tony Abbott of Trumbull made the right decision when he risked leaving his job as a corporate trade publication editor 25 years ago to concentrate on his dream of writing.
And it paid off: Today, he has published 106 books and sold over 12 million copies.
Abbott is known for his mystery and fantasy series for children — such as the popular Danger Guys series, The Copernicus Legacy , and The Secrets of Droon fantasy books, to name but a few.
But every now and then, Abbott writes a standalone novel. The Summer of Owen Todd, published this past October, is also his most ambitious. Ambitious not in its style, but in its substance: The novel deals with the title character being sworn to secrecy when he finds out that his best friend, Sean, is being sexually abused by his male babysitter.
“It’s not an adventure book,” said Abbott. “It’s a fairly realistic look at something horrifying yet very human. My reason for writing this book is to investigate and shine a light on a really elemental situation that a young person has to deal with.”
The story is loosely based on an actual case of child abuse revealed by an acquaintance. The victim's mother wondered whether her son’s story could be told in a book as a warning to other boys and girls – a young audience.
At first, Abbott tried to think whether any of his writer friends would be appropriate authors for the sensitive topic, but then decided he would try to write it himself.
“I immediately realized that it would be the friend sworn to secrecy who would be telling the story,” said Abbott. “As a writer, when you begin to hear a character’s voice, their thoughts, you’re drawn into it. There’s no looking back.”
The book is aimed at readers ages 10 to 14– slightly older from his usual audience of 6- to 12-year-olds. But Abbott, who called his new novel “raw,” said it's not necessarily recommended for all 10-year-olds.
But if a parent feels their child can handle such a sensitive topic — understand and sympathize — he urges them to let their son or daughter read it.
“I think I could get pushback,” said Abbott, “but I haven’t had that yet.
“If the readers and their parents feel that Owen and Sean are like them, could be them, then maybe little changes will begin to be made, these kind of problems will be outed and dealt with so that they don’t exist anymore," he said.
“That’s everyone’s hope, and my hope, too.”
For more information about Tony Abbott, visit www.tonyabbottbooks.com . The book can be purchased online and at most major retailers.
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