My first audio book was just released, an adventure-packed Christmas gift for 9-12 year-olds. Mystery of Spider Mountain is a semi-autobiographical novel based on my childhood, growing up in the Hollywood Hills where, if you climbed high enough, you could see the Pacific Ocean.
Spider Mountain was home to all sorts of crawling creatures, including trapdoor spiders which my brothers and I watched spin hinged doors to hide their homes in the ground. There were also a few tarantulas that had escaped Central American banana boats that docked at southern California ports
But Spider Mountain isn't a mountain at all, although it appeared so from the vantage points of my four younger brothers and me. We lived at the foot of the large hill and wondered who lived in the mysterious house at our mountain's summit. It was surrounded by huge evergreen trees and we could hear dogs barking at night, imagining them the size and temperament of wolves or maybe a St. Bernard. Some nights we'd sit around making up stories about the strange house's inhabitants. Perhaps they were aliens or bank robbers hiding from the police. Kids had vivid imaginations in the days before television and electronic devises.
One day, while our parents were at work, we climbed the hill to spy on the people who lived there. A narrow, winding road wound its way to the top but it was choked with weeds and debris, so how could anyone drive to the summit? A tall eucalyptus tree stood halfway up the hill complete with a long looped rope that we kids used to swing on. We called it "Dead Man's Tree" because the rope resembled a hangman's noose.
All these things and more are incorporated into Mystery of Spider Mountain, the first novel in my Hamilton Kid's mystery series (the second, Ghost of Crimson Dawn). The three and a half hour recording is also available in print and ebook editions, but I'm most excited about the audio book version, which was skillfully narrated by Chelsea Ward.
The book may be ordered at Audible.com, Amazon.com (soon on iTunes) in time for Christmas.