Marcus Damanda, Novelist

Subtitle

Character Profiles for THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS




Monica Adams


Age: 14
Hair: black (in a high, braided pony tail)
Eyes: brown
From: Fairview, VA
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (minor)


Monica is probably the happiest, most well-balanced teenager in the entire DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS trilogy, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t have problems. She makes her first appearance in A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT.


She’s a freshman at Battlefield Secondary School, where Audrey transferred in an effort to leave her past behind. The only problem is, following their suspensions from Fairview High, four of the Facebook Fifteen transferred there weeks ahead of her—and Battlefield Secondary is just too close to Fairview High for the story not to have reached the student population. Everyone knows Audrey is coming, including Monica. And Mrs. Lewis, head of the guidance department, has assigned Monica the task of helping Audrey adjust to her new school.


Monica is the SCA rep for her homeroom class, an up-and-coming junior varsity volleyball player, and probably the most popular ninth grader in the building. She has friends of all races and both genders, and she’s flits comfortably among every clique in the social hierarchy: geeks, jocks, skaters—she’s that rare soul who seems to have universal acceptance from day one. She’s pretty and direct, honest and kind, and effortlessly casual about it all.


She’s an only child. She’s lower-middle class, and makes most of her own money by babysitting neighborhood kids on the weekends. Both of her parents work, and neither can make it on time to see the JV volleyball squad play. She doesn’t have a boyfriend, at present—too busy, she tells herself—but she enjoys school, and she’s a better-than-average student.


When given the job of looking after Audrey Bales, she knows that a “normal transition” just isn’t possible for her—and Monica says so. In fact, she almost refuses. But, in the end, she accepts the task, and prepares for it by telling all of her trusted friends that they are not to give the new kid a hard time.


Monica has no idea what’s in store for Audrey—and, by extension, herself—over the next three days. That’s probably for the best. She’s powerless to stop it, in any case.


If she should survive the trilogy, Monica’s life will be a story of one success after another. Don’t be surprised if she ends up on the Olympic volleyball team prior to her career as a congresswoman and eventually a senator, all while raising an equally happy family.


Bonus tidbit: in her original description in A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, I included the detail that Monica is African-American—totally inconsequential as a story element (and thus edited out), it was included purely as a visual reference, simply because that’s who she is and how I see her.



Alex Bales Jr.


Age: 14 (at time of death)
Hair: black (dyed from blond)
Eyes: green
From: Fairview, VA
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (minor), Teeth: The Forever Show Book 2 (unnamed, but present in one scene)


Audrey's older brother, Alex, died in 2007 when she was still a very small child. Just as Audrey would later, he suffered from depression. He took to wearing all black at the age of thirteen, which is when he also began sneaking out at night. joyriding with his older friends, and smoking pot. But even as his young life spiraled ever more out of control, he remained fiercely protective of his little sister, along with her then-best-friend Valerie Mills, both of whom were bullied by the other neighborhood kids.


When he was caught toilet-papering his algebra teacher's house late one night, he and his friends were brought to the police station. The police found pot in his possession, and he was charged with two misdemeanors. The judge made an example of him, sentencing him to three weeks in the Fairview Juvenile Detention Center--where a "riot" (explanation to come) broke out with only five days left to serve in his sentence. An unnamed police officer shot and killed him.


The reader never truly meets Alex in Devils in the Dark, nor in either of the other books. Instead, we get his memory, the hallucination of his ghost, through Audrey's troubled mind. Unable to let go of him, Audrey sees him, as though trapped for all eternity at age 14, whenever she's lonely, stressed out, or angry. And although the reader may be tempted to think that the ghost of Alex is real, perhaps one of the "thousand" controlled by Alastair, this is not the case. He's a phantom of the mind only--the voice in Audrey's head that urges her ever closer to suicide.


Bonus tidbit, a nod of the head to those friends of mine who've read my other books: The "riot" that killed Alex was orchestrated by Alexis Damworth, one of several vampires who attack the juvenile detention center one cold winter midnight in the book Teeth: The Forever Show Book 2. Alex was paralyzed and made, through force of suggestion, to be a part of the stampeding mob that got gunned down at the jail's front gate.


Audrey Bales


Age: 14
Hair: naturally blonde, often dyed black
Eyes: green
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)


Audrey Bales doesn’t ask for much. She wants a true friend, the approval of her parents, the chance to do well at school, and for Maggie Lassiter to leave her the hell alone. But for Audrey, simple things come at a cost—or don’t come at all. To understand the cursed existence that is Audrey Bales, we must first meet her as a very small child.


She encountered her first real grief when she was only six years old. She loved her older brother Alex with a fierce and unconditional love, even when he rebelled against their parents, even though it seemed he was always in some kind of trouble or another. And Alex always looked after her, never complaining, doting on her with a cautious maturity he didn’t seem to possess in any other aspect of his life. But then, one night, he was arrested for pot possession and vandalism—and weeks later he was killed in a riot at the local juvenile detention center.


By the time Audrey entered middle school, she had still not overcome her grief. She adopted Alex’s tastes in goth attire, black hair dye, and music. After her only friend, Valerie Mills, moved out of her neighborhood, she withdrew more and more often to her bedroom, shutting herself off from everyone—except for her mom and dad, and except for her phantom older brother, a hallucination most often brought on by anger, or loneliness, or stress from school.

At the age of twelve, her parents began sending her, twice a week, to see Doctor Compton, the local child psychiatrist. Two years of regular therapy didn’t help, though. Nothing did.


Before she ever got to Fairview High School, Audrey was diagnosed with clinical depression. From her first days as a freshman, the only one she could speak to at school was her guidance counselor. She didn’t volunteer answers in class, didn’t sit with anyone at lunch. Audrey took to spraying her hair electric blue and wearing black lipstick in an effort to make a connection with the other goth kids—to no avail.


It’s October as THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS begins, and even Valerie now avoids her.


It seems, in fact, that Valerie has made friends with the worst of Audrey’s bullies—Maggie Lassiter, with the beautiful angel earrings and the nice clothes and the football hero boyfriend. Maggie Lassiter, who hates Audrey for no reason at all, and who torments her at every opportunity, all because she caught Audrey admiring her earrings in the locker room before gym class. Maggie Lassiter—friends with everyone in the whole wide world, and the thief of Audrey’s only friend, Valerie Mills.


Tonight, as the story begins, Audrey is about to make a near-fatal mistake. In so doing, however, she will attract the attention of an invisible champion who watches from her from afar.


A champion who likes her, and does not like bullies.


In the coming days, weeks, and months following Audrey’s bad decision, Audrey will learn that she does, in fact, want to live. She’ll find a precious friend who will always stand by her side, and she’ll recover a hope for her own life she never thought to know again.


But even as she does so, her champion will await her return, with something like love—and a simmering desire for “justice” smoldering in his dead, blackened heart.


Bonus tidbit: Even though Audrey’s a vulnerable character, I made a choice early on that she could not simply be “rescued” from her troubles. I didn’t commit to her living or dying in this story until I was more than two-thirds of the way through it. However, I told myself from the outset that Audrey has to DO something before it’s all over, either to save herself or to end the threat that the Observer poses to the world at large—or to do both, if I could find a way for her to manage it while suspending the reader’s disbelief. She has small heroic moments in the first two books, but it’s not until the final act that Audrey truly emerges in the way I always wanted her to.



Randall Brown


Age: 16

Hair: blond (curly)

Eyes: hazel

From: Fairview, Virginia

Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (minor)

 

One of the “Facebook Fifteen”

One of the “Battlefield Four”

A.K.A. “Rowdy”

 

Randall Brown is the very portrait of everything Alastair the Observer hates: total unaccountability. He’s one of those kids who understands completely whenever he has done something wrong—and it may even make him feel guilty—but he never owsn up to any of his transgressions. Mom and Dad have done a very effective job instilling these “values” into Randall’s personality. He’s been in trouble at school before, and his parents have always, going back to earliest childhood, appealed any consequence levied against him. He has no problem at all with lying to cover his tracks, even when his lies tangle him deeper and deeper into webs of even bigger trouble.

 

After Randall serves his suspension for bullying Audrey Bales, his parents transfer him to Battlefield in time for wrestling season. Randall’s a former state champion in his weight class, and likely to repeat this year. He’s so good, in fact, that unlike Jeff and Cody, teachers and administrators alike are inclined to find a way to keep him in competition, whatever his permanent record may show. After all, his suspension had been for only five days, not the whole year …


In spite of his athletic prowess, however, Randall is unable to win Heather Roberts as anything more than just a friend. It is instead Olivia Pierce who lavishes her attention on him—to which Randall responds with indifference (on his good days) or annoyance (on his bad days). As Randall is used to having most anything he wants, this problem is particularly vexing to him.


Following his suspension, he tries to distance himself from Maggie and Cody’s toxic influence, just as Val and Gabriel had successfully done. Much as he tries, however, he’s unable to fully extricate himself from them, and—urged on mostly by Cody—finds himself appointed as the contact person within Battlefield, the one who will carry out most of Maggie’s new plans against Audrey Bales.


If he should survive the trilogy, chances are Randall will enjoy a high-profile college athletic career. He’s not a particularly good student, though, and not overly good with people. Also, he has no idea what he wants to do with his life after wrestling. His prospects beyond college are iffy, at best.


Bonus tidbit: Randall keeps a secret stash of unsent letters addressed to Heather, along with some pictures of her, in one of his dresser drawers.



Celine Camacho

Age: 17
Hair: black (although when we see her, it’s recently dyed pink)
Eyes: brown
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (none), The Devil at Play (major)

One of the “Facebook Fifteen”

Until her five-day suspension for cyberbullying, Celine Camacho had everything going for her at Fairview High. Like so many others among the Facebook Fifteen, she’s an honor roll student who’s never been in any serious trouble. She comes from a highly successful family, and she’s been a favorite among her teachers for all three of her years at Fairview High.

Because of the age difference, Celine doesn’t even know who Audrey Bales is when she joins the online hazing party. Mostly, she participates at Maggie Lassiter’s invitation—and for the simple pleasure of hurting another person from a safe distance.

Celine is Maggie’s best friend and, in a very real sense, the older sister Maggie never had. She’s the first one who ever identified Maggie as a complete sociopath, a characteristic they share. They’ve even confided in each other about it. They both believe in a total devotion to self above all else. Because they know this about each other, there exists a strange bond of trust between them, even though they understand either one would sell the other out in a heartbeat, if it served her interests.

They are so similar, in fact, that their roles in this tale could easily have been reversed, if only the target for their cruelty had been chosen from among Celine’s fellow juniors at school instead of the freshman, Audrey Bales.

If she should survive the trilogy, Celine will likely do quite well for herself—for a while. She’s smart, and she looks after her own interests ruthlessly. She’ll overcome the damage to her reputation caused by the suspension, complete college, and enter corporate America looking to expand on her father’s successes. However, her tendency to get involved in everyone else’s business will make it impossible for her to establish any meaningful relationships, and her lack of a moral compass will ultimately land her in jail.

Bonus tidbit: When THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS was one big novel (before it became three smaller books), Celine made a brief appearance in Chapter One and was mentioned throughout. During the cutting, I edited her out of Books 1 and 2. She just wasn’t important until Book 3, story-wise, and so became a casualty of cleaning up character clutter.



Gabriel Daniels


Age: 16
Hair: brown
Eyes: blue
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (none)

One of the “Facebook Fifteen”
One of the “Battlefield Four”


How Gabriel ever got wrapped up with the likes of Maggie Lassiter, he’ll never fully understand. In middle school, this rich, reclusive reader of graphics novels and assembler of LEGO models had been perfectly content with his small circle of friends. By the start of high school, however, even his core identity as a proud “nerd” could not hide the fact that he was both funny (in a quiet way) and good looking. He’s known Cody Philips longer than Maggie has—he’s been doing Cody small favors (mostly his homework) for years, and their mutual friend Olivia Pierce has flirted with him since seventh grade.


Gabriel misses school, occasionally, for a congenital heart defect that requires regular monitoring. Physically, he leads an almost normal life, but he is by no means athletic or “sporty.” To keep in shape, he goes for long walks with his mother, or by himself.


Of all of the Facebook Fifteen, none is so remorseful of his own actions than is Gabriel Daniels. This must be credited, at least in part, to his mother. Mrs. Daniels cuts him no slack at all, and along with Mrs. Mills, is one of only two parents who do not appeal the suspensions handed down for the online hazing of Audrey Bales. And it only gets worse for Gabriel when, following his return to school, he finds himself in the role of “bullied” instead of “bully.”


He’s the first of the Fairview transfers to Battlefield Secondary, and he’s the only one of the four who is wholly sincere when he promises not to bother Audrey in any way when she eventually arrives. If he should survive the trilogy, his natural tendency to lie low, coupled with his creativity and intelligence, makes it likely enough for him to finish school without further incident, and he’ll probably realize his dream of working in the comic book industry.


Bonus tidbit: Before the first draft of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS was ever begun, I had to decide whether or not my protagonist would be male or female. The original choice was to write about a boy (since I’d just written a female lead in THE FOREVER SHOW), and his name would have been Gabriel Daniels. Obviously, the plan changed. However, the basic makeup of the male “hero” would have pretty much followed this template—without being dragged into the dark antics of the Facebook Fifteen, of course.

 


Toby DeSortio


Age: 14
Hair: blond (bowl cut)
Eyes: “blank, slate-colored”
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (none)


Along with Audrey Bales and Jack Maddox, Toby DeSortio transfers to Battlefield Secondary at change of semester. Like Audrey, Toby has a history of being bullied. But unlike her, Toby was kicked out of his last school for fighting back—or planning to. A teacher found his “death list,” which he was compiling inside the pocket of his desk during math and, carelessly, left behind.


Or perhaps, deep down, his subconscious had rebelled, and deep down he had wanted the plan foiled.

He has a major crush on Audrey from the moment he sets eyes upon her. He knows all about her, of course. Toby is nothing if not observant. His instinctive distrust of everyone he encounters does not apply to Audrey Bales. In her, Toby sees a kindred spirit. He makes little distinction between those who hurt themselves and those who fantasize about hurting others. The world is our enemy, he thinks, including Audrey in the “our.” That’s all that matters.


He has little expectation that anything good will come from his fresh start at Battlefield, but like most kids, he does make an attempt. He tries his best to be receptive to the overtures of friendliness he receives from the SCA reps who give him and Audrey a tour of the building—but he is instantly jealous of Jack. He’s also very willing to listen to Jack, though, because it is clear from the outset that Jack knows how to play the game of high school. And Toby is a good listener. He listens far more than he talks.


Even if Toby should survive the trilogy, it’s likely that—if he doesn’t get help very soon—he will do something horrible and end up incarcerated, or worse. There’s a good, sensitive kid buried deep behind his guarded eyes, but Toby is losing touch with that near-forgotten aspect of himself at an alarming rate.


Bonus tidbit: In the wide realm of online gaming, Toby is actually very popular. He’s the head of a guild in World of Warcraft that has over two hundred members, and there he is treated with deference and respect. He’d spend all day there, every day, if he could.



Clarence Downing

Age: 56
Hair: white (balding, with big sideburns)
Eyes: brown
From: Bowlingbrook, IL
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (minor)

Mr. Downing—never “Clarence” to anyone other than his wife and his boss—teaches advanced level math classes at Battlefield Secondary School. It’s his second career, following a comparatively boring twelve-year stint as a privately contracted accountant and logistician for the military. He is commonly regarded as the greatest mathematical mind in the building, and his kids’ test scores have backed up that reputation going on twenty years. Because of this, he’s in very good graces with his boss, Principal O’Shaughnessy, and parents tolerate tales of his … eccentricities, many with considerable restraint. Good results are good results, after all.

But his students hate him. Mr. Downing is the most reviled teacher in the building—no one else even comes close. It isn’t just the quiet tyranny of his policies, nor merely his menacing manner, that makes him so universally despised. His students are easily old enough to detect something “off” about their math teacher, something creepy. Even predatory.

Mr. Downing is, however, far too cautious to embroil himself in anything that may get him into trouble. He never yells—and he certainly isn’t guilty of physical abuse. What gets Clarence Downing up in the morning is the mere prospect of who might be the next recipient of a far quieter (and perfectly legal) form of mistreatment. Quite simply, he abuses his power by his words alone, and he enjoys tallying up the lasting scars he leaves on his kids, fully aware of the effect each of his carefully crafted syllables has. And this he perpetrates upon select students every day, while the rest perform—in perpetual terror that, if they don’t live up to his expectations, they may be next.

In A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, Audrey has the misfortune of being in Mr. Downing’s end-of-the-day Algebra 2 class. Luckily, she shares this class with her new friend, Jack Maddox—whose personality does not mesh well with Mr. Downing’s at all.

Bonus tidbit: For a very, very short time in the original book’s infancy, I was deciding between the titles “The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class” and “The Devil in Mr. Downing’s Class.” As for the name “Downing,” he’s named for the former guitarist of Judas Priest. I was so mad when K.K. Downing left the band …


 

Beverly Drake


Age: 29

Hair: red

Eyes: blue

From: Mayfield, Delaware

Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)

 

Miss Drake is the most popular teacher at Battlefield Secondary School. She’s “one of the fun ones,” a natural storyteller who loves her job. She lives alone in an apartment in one of Fairview’s four Poor Corners, but she dreams of something better. She has a fiancé, and she hasn’t given up on her dreams of writing screenplays for the big bucks. Unfortunately, there lurks a very large skeleton in Miss Drake’s closet—a real skeleton, to her reckoning, and one she cannot shake.


Beverly fled from her old job and her old life in Mayfield, Delaware after making a mistake that cost one of her students his life. That’s how she sees it, anyway.

 

His name was Jack Maddox. He’s been dead for five years—but, ironically, she’s just received a new student with the same exact name. Thankfully, they look nothing alike. Beverly has never really forgiven herself for what happened to the first one.


Never mind that he killed himself deliberately. Never mind that Beverly would never have encouraged such a thing. The fault still lies with her. She should have believed him. She should have given him an extension on the due date. The paper had been underneath her coffee table at home the whole time, after all.

 

She’d found it there the day after the boy’s death. She’d shredded it to cover her guilt. But the boy, Jack Maddox, had blamed her in his suicide note. In a town as small as Mayfield, word does get around.

 

Beverly Drake dares to hope that the new Jack Maddox is a gift from God—that, by helping him, she might alleviate some of the subterranean remorse that still constantly nags at her. Probably not, but maybe. Her new Jack Maddox is dyslexic, a poor student, a serious dropout risk. And so, to her, the new Jack represents a shot at redemption. A shot she desperately needs.


But what if Mrs. Drake is wrong? What if this new Jack wants something else? Something … final?

 

Bonus tidbit: Teaching runs in the Drake family. It should—in real life, the actual Edwina Drake, 12th grade first period advanced English, was the best teacher I ever had. As for the fictitious Miss Drake, Beverly, she was inspired toward the profession by the success of her aunt. That Mrs. Drake, the elder one, appears in chapter one of THE FOREVER SHOW and is still alive (albeit retired) at the time that her niece’s story takes place.



Jeffrey Flynn


Age: 15
Hair: sandy blond
Eyes: blue
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (minor), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)


One of the “Facebook 15” …


Poor Jeffrey. One of the oldest freshmen at Fairview High (he had to repeat sixth grade), Jeffrey is perpetually nervous, and insecure in most things that don’t relate directly to baseball. Living just one townhouse down from Audrey, his family lives in one of Fairview’s four “poor corners”—and yet it’s Valerie Mills who ended up as his girlfriend in their eighth grade year. As a result, Maggie and Cody have rather grudgingly accepted him into their social cadre, but he’s never felt quite like he belonged there. He doesn’t even consider himself wholly worthy of Val’s attention, even though her two-person household is as cash-strapped as his own.


Only on the baseball field, or when he measures himself up against Audrey and the other goths and cutters at school, can he feel superior to others. He’s a willing pawn in Maggie’s games from the start, working as best as he can to distance Val from Audrey and, later, participating eagerly in the Audrey-bashing on Cody’s Facebook timeline.


When that backfires in the worst imaginable way, Val cuts herself off from Maggie, Cody, and the rest—including him.


All Jeffrey can do now is … well, whatever he is told. And as much as he hates it, that’s exactly what Jeffrey will do, hoping against reason that following Maggie’s lead will, as promised, eventually put his world back in order.


If Jeffrey should survive the trilogy, he’ll return to Fairview High as a sophomore and try to salvage his budding baseball career—but it won’t work. In the end, there’ll be no scholarship for a kid with a year-long suspension on his record, and consequently for him, no college. He’ll find a normal working-class job and get by—“like most people,” as his mother often says.


Bonus tidbit: Deep down, Jeffrey is absolutely guilt ridden, after the fact, by what he and the rest of the Facebook Fifteen did that late October night. But “after the fact” is just the way realizations tend to come to him, and he keeps the guilt to himself.


 

Gale Hastings


Age: just turned 14
Hair: brown (usually a mess)
Eyes: blue
From: Fredericksburg, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (minor)


Gale has a lot of the things most people want. She has two parents, still married, who love her very much. Her dad owns a successful restaurant called The Flatiron and her mom is the assistant superintendent of schools, so she's not hurting for money, either, as teenage kids go. She's both empathetic and honest. When speaking, if anything, she suffers from a lack of a "filter." But she has bi-polar disorder, too, in a big way, and has a tendency to over-react to everything, both the good things that happen in her life and the bad. At school, she's socially awkward. Unable to make any friends, she bottles up her feelings--which for her, is ten times the torture it would be for anyone else. As a result, she's prone to sudden, inexplicable public meltdowns. Short for her age, the kids call her "Little Gale Fail."

At the time the reader meets her, she's already spent a month in the psychiatric ward at St. George's for attempting to end her life by slashing her wrists. The other patients on the ward are much older than her, and she finds herself, rather comfortably, as the frequent center of their attention. Everyone treats her like a little sister--and yet, in her mind, she's still desperately lonely. Until Audrey Bales arrives, a kid her own age who attempted to leave the world in the same way she did. Finally, Gale has found a friend.


What the future holds for Gale (assuming she survives all three books): She'll be a successful local disc jockey. There's no cure for bi-polar disorder, so she'll always be in a battle with that, but I do see her getting married at some point--probably more than once. Her friendship with Audrey will last her entire lifetime.


Bonus tidbit, not included in the books as it would have only been a distraction: Even though Gale's friendship with Audrey is simply that--a friendship, deep and loyal--Gale has no interest in boys at all.


 

Clayton Jay


Age: 82
Hair: white (originally brown, still curly)
Eyes: hazel
From: Raleigh, North Carolina
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (none), The Devil at Play (none)


Cantankerous, miserly, suspicious old Clayton Jay has a secret. He lives alone—unless you count Missy, his cat—in a small house in Woodbridge, Virginia … until that secret catches up to him.


He’s rich but lives small, never quite forgetting the sins of his past. Since he abandoned his wife and teenage son in 1969, Clayton has kept a low profile. He doesn’t want to be found, and ever since the Internet came around in the mid-90s, finding people has become only too easy. It was online, in fact, that he originally learned that he no longer has a son, and that his one-time wife is wasting away, unvisited and unloved, in a nursing home in Raleigh. Clayton does not go online anymore.


Even while he and his wife were still together, she never knew about the steady accumulation of his wealth—most of it ill-gotten through insider trading on the stock market. He’d never trusted her. Because of his own personal insecurities (and infidelities), he remains certain, even now, that she was unfaithful to him. And one day, when she dared question his purchase of a Ford Mustang she did not know they could afford, Clayton simply … left, without even saying goodbye to his teenage son Anthony. Not mine, he told himself. Kid’s probably from some other man …


He thinks of Anthony often. He fights down the guilt and the panic attacks. He dotes on the cat but does not play with her. He polishes his gun, a rare .38 special with only five chambers, for hours at a time every night. He’s sure that one night, his house will be raided by young thugs, and he expects some kind of biblical justice will then be served upon him for what he did to his family.


And he’s almost right. Anthony, although dead, is not quite gone. He’s part of the 1000 ghosts now, and Clayton has become his unsettled account.


Bonus tidbits:

Clayton Jay adopted Missy from the local shelter just before she would have been put down, one of many late-in-life charitable deeds he has done to alleviate his conscience and justify his own continued existence.

Clayton’s shortness of breath is not only due to his panic attacks. Though he does not know it, he has lung cancer.

 

Maggie Lassiter


Age: 14 in DEVILS IN THE DARK; 15 in A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT and THE DEVIL AT PLAY
Hair: blonde
Eyes: blue
From: Fairview, VA
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)


A.K.A. "Exile One"


THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS features two evils in conflict with each other: the paranormal evil of the thousand ghosts and the entirely human evil of the Facebook Fifteen. Maggie Lassiter is not counted among the Fifteen. She’s their banner bearer, their relentlessly ruthless and petty leader, and she’s in a class all by herself. Her father is the local real estate magnate; her mom a community social planner. She’s rich, bright, exceptionally talented at reading people, and hopelessly spoiled.


And she’s a complete sociopath. Her greatest pleasure comes from the exertion of her own power over people—friends and enemies alike. She knows how to flatter, to affect innocence, and to charm. She delights in manipulating her “friends” into destructive or cruel behaviors that she knows perfectly well run counter to their own instincts. She also has an explosive temper, and those who are exposed to her true nature (or figure it out on their own) tend to slink out of her social circle and not return.


Making the transition from queen-of-all-she-surveys at her middle school to high school freshman, Maggie quickly acquires seventeen-year-old football hero Cody Philips for a boyfriend and asserts herself, from the beginning, at the top of Fairview High’s social hierarchy. For a laugh, she brings Valerie Mills into her clique, partly because Val is popular in her own right, but also she knows that Audrey Bales has no other friend.


Ruining that could be fun. Audrey is an easy target. Involving her friends—especially Val—in Audrey’s torment presents the perfect opportunity for Maggie to play the puppet master. All she needs is an excuse.


Val provides the first excuse by trying to stick up for the little basket case. Audrey provides the second excuse herself, daring to look at her at just the wrong moment in the locker room at school. These seeming innocuous events trigger a chain of events that will forever change, and in some cases end, many young lives in Fairview.


If Maggie survives all three books, her future outlook is bleak. Whatever becomes of her, in the end she’s her own worst enemy. In the end, there are only so many times Mommy and Daddy can save her from her own self-destruction.


Bonus tidbit: The name Lassiter was derived from the family name “Lannister” from GAME OF THRONES. If you follow the books (or the show, for that matter), they’re the wealthy family, the one you hate—the one you want bad things to happen to …



Cherie Lewis


 Age: 43
Hair: auburn...
Eyes: green
From: Mayfield, Delaware
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (none), The Forever Show (mentioned)


 Cherie Lewis is the head of Guidance at Battlefield Secondary School. In A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, facilitating the smooth transition of Audrey Bales to her new school is Cherie’s responsibility, but she wisely delegates the job to ninth grader Monica Adams. When things begin to go badly at Battlefield, Cherie can do little more than watch—as the only real adult character perspective to the action taking place—and vainly try to unravel the reasons for the steadily mounting chaos.


She grew up and began her career as an English teacher in Mayfield, Delaware. She’d been only seventeen years old when, while volunteering at a summertime travelling carnival that was passing through, three of her friends died in a horrific Ferris wheel accident. That event led her to want to work with kids, help them—and eventually led to her lateral career move into guidance counseling. Before leaving Mayfield for Fairview, and for Battlefield Secondary, she was Beverly Drake’s teacher mentor, and it was ultimately her advocacy for Miss Drake that got her a job there, as well.


Cherie Lewis is the portrait of stern empathy. She cares very deeply for her charges, but she keeps a clearly delineated line between educator (or counselor, these days) and student. She does her best to help out Jack Maddox, whom she perceives as having far deeper psychological problems than even Audrey Bales, in a very direct way. And though she is quite right about that, she has no idea exactly how right she really is …


Bonus tidbit: The Ferris wheel accident mentioned above was a critical plot moment in THE FOREVER SHOW. She’s mentioned in the book once (first name only) in Chapter 1 of that book.


Dr. Melinda Littlefield


Age: 45
Hair: brown (kept in a bun)
Eyes: brown
From: Roanoke, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (major), A Devil in Daylight (none), The Devil at Play (none)


At work, the other staff members refer to her as “The Rock.” Dr. Melinda Littlefield never raises her voice, never gets too angry, nor too sad—nor too happy, for that matter. Flashes of compassion, enthusiasm, or disappointment occasionally slip past her filter, but outwardly, she’s the strength everyone feeds on, the very embodiment of the hope that people can rise above their circumstance and be … well, normal. She the head doctor on the psychiatric ward at St. George’s, and she’s content with her position, with no ambitions of rising even higher in her profession. She loves her job, but she is plagued by self-doubt and is a master of keeping her emotions in check.


At home, she’s unhappily married. Her two sons are away at college. Melinda finds herself at work far more often than she has to be, and among the entire staff, she’s the easiest one to reach for an emergency call-in. Deep down, she’s always wanted a daughter—to replace the younger sister of hers that had tried to drown her sorrows in alcohol and midnight joyriding, only to perish in the ultimately inevitable car accident.


This makes it easy for her to be, perhaps, a little too cautious on the matter of releasing Gale Hastings and Audrey Bales back into society. It’s not that she’s possessive of them—which would be, of course, an absolutely criminal abuse of her position. Instead, she errs on the side of over-protectiveness, even as she cloaks it behind a veneer of professional detachment.


Bonus tidbit (from behind the author curtain): The name “Melinda” is a nod of the head to my friend and fellow teacher Melinda Landry, and “Littlefield” is last name of Jennifer Littlefield, a friend from my apocalyptic and misbegotten teenage years.


Jack Maddox (a.k.a. “Mad Jack")


Age: 16
Hair: black (curly)
Eyes: blue, under wire-rimmed glasses
From: Utica, New York
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)


This is the story Jack Maddox wants his guidance counselor, and Audrey Bales, to believe:


He’s a relatively ordinary, albeit charming, sixteen-year-old kid trying (like Audrey) to rebuild his life. Mere weeks ago, he moved to Fairview after a house fire claimed the lives of his parents. Now living with his Uncle Clay in Fairview, he enrolls at Battlefield Secondary during the same week Audrey returns home from the hospital. Due largely to his dyslexia, he struggles with reading and writing. Although he is a junior, he has been placed in Miss Drake’s freshman English class, and begins school at change of semester with Audrey in his home room and first period.


The thing is, he’s not really named Jack Maddox, of course. The real Jack Maddox killed himself five years ago, and lives as a ghost within the same shifting corporeal body as the fake Jack. And it’s not technically true to say that the fake Jack is only sixteen, either. Physically, it’s true—but he’s been sixteen for more than a century. Together, they plan to settle a five-year-old account with their English teacher, and to end Audrey’s bullying problem once and for all.


Jack, it turns out, is really the “Observer” from the first book, returning to high school with single purpose: to hunt down each one of the Facebook Fifteen, one at a time, and murder them—unless one of them stops him in the only way the Observer can be stopped.


Bonus tidbit: The name “Jack Maddox” is an amalgam. The first name “Jack” is a reference to a horror story I wrote in 1989 called JOHNNY BLACKJACK. It’s probably the sickest piece of work I’ve ever done, and not likely to see the light of day again any time soon. “Maddox” was the protagonist’s surname in a semi-autobiographical book of mine titled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY THE DAMNED. It’s also homage to a real person, Anson Maddox, the most creatively twisted artist I was aware of in the 1990s.


 

Valerie Mills


Age: 14
Hair: blonde
Eyes: brown
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (minor), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (minor)


One of the “Facebook Fifteen"


Val used to be Audrey’s best friend. They were in the same classes in early elementary school, and as very small children, for a short time they were neighbors. Unfortunately, they tended to get picked on by other neighborhood kids. More than once, Audrey’s older brother Alex stood up for them.


Even after Val’s parents divorced and she moved five miles away, their parents would arrange play dates. Later, they’d ride bikes to meet up and hang out. At Alex’s funeral, Val sat with Audrey’s family instead of her own. As they grew older, however, Val made new friends, joined the drama club at school, and made the travel soccer team as a goalie. By the end of middle school, she found herself to have become quite popular, even as Audrey made no other friends at all.


Until the start of ninth grade, Val maintained her friendship with Audrey, but she grew increasingly impatient with her friend’s isolation, which she believed was self-imposed and deliberate. The more Val tried to “help” her—advising her on everything from how dress and even how to talk to other people—the more Audrey pulled away.


In her ninth grade homeroom, Val struck a friendship with the rich and pretty Maggie Lassiter, allowing her instant access to the most elite social circle at Fairview High. But Maggie had no room for Audrey Bales there, and when Val reluctantly tried to speak in her defense, she inadvertently triggered the weeks of bullying that would nearly drive Audrey to self-destruction.


Late at night on October 10th, Val’s impatience with Audrey boiled over to anger. Fueled by the encouragement of her new friends, Val found herself typing cruel and hurtful things to her one-time best friend online—things she never would have imagined actually saying to anyone, even her worst enemy. In light of what followed, it would be a long, long time before she would ever forgive herself.


Assuming she survives all three books, Val will go on to try an acting career, only to end up, rather contentedly, teaching theater and drama at the local community college.


Bonus tidbit: Val’s status as a social “late bloomer” is largely the fault of her father, who regularly beat both her and her mother until they finally left him before she was even ten years old. Neither Val nor her mother ever told anyone about that, not even Audrey.



Cody Phillips


Age: 17
Hair: black
Eyes: brown
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (minor), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (major)


One of the “Facebook Fifteen”


A.K.A. “Outcast Nine,” as in his jersey number.


Cody Philips used to play first-string quarterback for the Fairview Vikings. He used to write for the school newspaper, blog on the school site. He was Fairview’s golden boy with dark hair, scouted by colleges from his sophomore year. Then he fell under the spell of a girl two and a half years younger than him, a freshman, and after one ill-advised online hazing—which he hosted on his Facebook timeline—all of that promise and potential was irreparably marred. Maybe forever.


Cody’s the son of Garrett Philips, of the inestimably profitable Philips & Metz Heating and Air Conditioning, and lives on Rappahannock Heights with the rest of Fairview’s elite. He drives a classic Trans Am and carries an aura of invincibility about him, even after the school suspends him for the remainder of his junior year. Against the wishes and advice of his parents, he hangs on in his relationship with Maggie Lassiter, even as he begins to doubt they will ever overcome the troubles they so unwisely brought upon themselves.


Cody, like his father, believes in the sure thing, in not taking risks. He’ll always wonder how he ended up with Maggie Lassiter in the first place, and even more so how he allowed himself to be manipulated into headlining the hazing of Audrey Bales on his Facebook page. He constantly considers dumping Maggie, but he never does.


Not yet, he tells himself. They have to at least get even with Audrey, first.


Because, at his core, Cody does not feel guilty about what they did. Stupid, maybe—but without the remorse that should accompany the regret. They had not meant for her to attempt suicide, no matter what Maggie had typed. Therefore, they were being unjustly punished. Everyone did crap like that online all the time … Why should they be singled out? If he should have to suffer, then Audrey should, too—and he still believes that only Maggie can deliver on that promise of ultimate justice.


If Cody Philips should survive the trilogy, the reader can rest assured that he will, in time, follow in the footsteps of his father and find success in the business community. He’s a good communicator, and he will be more cautious in the future. His prospects as an eventual professional football player are, however, ruined.


Bonus tidbit: after a brief period of time experimenting with narcotics in his sophomore year, Cody switched over to performance enhancing drugs to give him an edge in football.


Olivia Pierce


Age: 17

Hair: brown
Eyes: brown
From: Fairview, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (none), A Devil in Daylight (minor), The Devil at Play (minor)


One of the “Facebook Fifteen”
One of the “Battlefield Four”


The line that officially introduces this little monster of social wiles and perpetual procrastination goes like this: “Olivia Pierce was such a disappointment to her parents.” And she knows it. Forever surrounded by siblings both older and younger than her (and outshone in every way by her identical twin), Mom and Dad constantly remind her how much more successful—how much better—the rest of the family is compared to her. And so it is primarily jealousy, along with her crush on the seemingly unwinnable Randall Brown, that fuels her actions and drains any empathy she might feel for others.


Olivia puts up a good front. Even as she nears the end of the protective bubble of childhood, high school is the perfect place for her to socially thrive. She’s the ultimate “people person” (in spite of Randall’s lack of interest), and she comes from a wealthy family. To those who don’t know her well, she seems to have it all. But she’s not a good student, not an athlete—nor does she belong to any clubs or organizations, other than the informal cliques that have defined her existence since middle school. Even that silver lining has dimmed, however, since her suspension from school and subsequent transfer to Battlefield Secondary.


It frustrates her to no end. Of all the “Facebook Fifteen,” Olivia was the least guilty of any real wrongdoing, at least in her own mind. She’d only typed a single line in the chat session, after all. Now, at 17, she finds herself having to start over, even as the real, adult world hovers just over the horizon like a threatening storm cloud.


Also, her driver’s license is suspended. Really, things couldn’t get much worse for Olivia Pierce. Just as the unaccountably strange accidents and inexplicable tragedies start to occur at Battlefield with the arrival of Audrey Bales, Olivia decides that she needs to turn her life around. Make an effort at school. Look to the future.

If she should survive the trilogy, Olivia will most likely follow in her older brother’s footsteps and join the military—Officer Candidate School, if she can get her grades together in the next year and a half. And if she can somehow polish a record permanently besmirched by a five-day suspension.



Heather Roberts


Age: 15
Hair: blonde
Eyes: gray
From: Springfield, Virginia
Book appearances: Devils in the Dark (minor), A Devil in Daylight (major), The Devil at Play (none)


One of the “Facebook Fifteen”

One of the “Battlefield Four”

A.K.A. "Fancy"


In the weeks following the return of most of the Facebook Fifteen to Fairview High (the majority of them were only given five-day suspensions), they find themselves the subject of near universal scorn among their peers. To Heather Roberts, this ill will is more than she can bear, and—along with three others—she transfers to Battlefield Secondary School in early November.


Among all of Audrey’s tormentors, none is quite so socially paranoid as Heather Roberts. She can spend hours or days wondering what people think about her, or what they might have said after she’s left the room. Even though she’s a year ahead of Maggie Lassiter, she looks up to the freshman like a social demigod, even after Maggie’s expulsion. Heather craves nothing so much as approval and approbation—and she has no problem sabotaging others to get these things. That is why, perhaps, the shunning at Fairview affected her worse than most.


And yet, she remains one of the pretty people, one of the Rappahannock one-percenters. She’s just clever and charismatic enough to rebuild her social life at Battlefield before Audrey arrives. And, due in no small amount to the notoriety that follows her, she quickly gains initiation into a secret online student society known as the Slam City Underground, where all the best gossip and forbidden personal dirt can be found on most anyone …


If Heather should survive the trilogy, she’ll most likely marry well and perpetuate, for the rest of her life, the same kind of rumor-mongering and character assassination upon her neighbors that she has mastered so effectively as a child. A century earlier, she might have become a switchboard operator for the sheer hell of it.


Bonus tidbit: Heather’s original first name in the rough draft was “Marcy.” I changed it because she has several scenes with Maggie Lassiter, and seeing the names “Marcy” and “Maggie” in such close proximity so many times was simply … awful.