Outcast middle schooler Will Cricket wants a new look, popular friends, cool parents and enough coordination to dribble a basketball – but he never actively pursues any of it. Instead, Will makes wishes.
When the magical wishing corporation known as the Sky Castle Network and Enterprises (a.k.a. the SCENE) agrees to grant him his ultimate wish to be someone different, he must work for his reward. Becoming a super-powered agent for the organization, Will teams up with a celestial wish agent with delusions of Hollywood stardom, a shape-changing half-Genie, a narcoleptic Dreamweaver and a stick-in-the-mud wish lawyer.
Together, they grant the wishes of Will’s classmates and family members, helping the same people who pick on Will every day. As if these challenges weren’t enough, there’s a mystery surrounding his peculiar grandmother and a malevolent force bent on enslaving humanity. Will might have to fight not only for his wish but also for the entire world!
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I get inspired from all sorts of things – other books, movies, real life situations and people, etc. For WISHING WILL, I watched the first Harry Potter movie, then read the books, and knew I had to create my own magical young adult world too. WW is nothing like HP, but it served as a source of inspiration.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
There are a lot of characters in Wishing Will – both “normal” and fantastical. Each of them have a little something of my personality – I’m a creature of many contradictions, after all! The main character, Will, is most like me, though in indirect ways. My favorite character, Nonnie, is largely based on a neighbor of mine from Milwaukee, Everything else stems from a very active imagination!
At 11:03 a.m. Will Cricket dashed into the lunchroom. His stomach gurgled and rattled, but his eyes were glued to his precisely-synched, radio-controlled watch. Time was dwindling, but he needed to refuel. Today was the biggest day of his life. Success depended on his being ready to bounce, which required an energy boost from a delicious helping of … tuna surprise? Will’s upper lip curled involuntarily as he glared at the lunch menu, but he jumped in line anyway. Lunch was, after all, one of the five most important meals of his day.
To his left a group of catty cheerleaders prattled away on their phones; to his right Diego Rouleau, the school bully, poked the tiny and trembling Duncan Sapp. Will tried to avoid them by blending into the crowd, but he wasn’t exactly inconspicuous.
The only blending he usually did involved milkshakes. Will outweighed almost everyone at Lamone Pledge Middle School by at least 40 pounds—a fact that no one let him forget.
“Someone call Green Peace,” said cheerleader Jordan Jesup, as she pointed to Will.
“We’ve got a beached whale they need to push back into the ocean.”
“Knock it off,” he mumbled, avoiding eye contact. He took a step away from them but nearly tripped over his own feet.
Lucy Logan—another cheerleader—gasped. “That was a close one! A fall from Willy the Whale would’ve set off an earthquake!” The other girls squealed in delight.
“Yeah, well you’re a bunch of … a bunch of … pretty girls,” Will said, blushing and deflated.
The cheerleaders stopped laughing, then grabbed their throats and gagged.
“Lame!” Cordelia Carson made an “L” with her fingers.
They continued to sling insults, but they were more focused on entertaining one another than on Will. He glanced at his watch—it was already 11:06 a.m. His hands shook nervously. He didn’t have time for this!
Will gave his blondish-red buzz-cut a quick scratch as he slowly backed away and accidentally knocked a lunch tray out of the hands of an exchange student. Tuna surprise, green bean casserole, and brownish Jell-O sailed through the air and landed in one giant plop at Diego’s feet. He looked up with an expression as mean as a pit bull with diaper rash.
“Willy the Whale,” he growled, his twitching eyes staring straight into Will’s.
A noise rose from behind him that sounded like a horse with asthma. Diego’s best friend and lackey, Jerritt Locke—a tall, lanky boy with thick bottle-cap glasses—laughed.
Will tried to sidestep the two, but Diego’s mitt-like hands took him by the collar and yanked him off his feet. “My shoes! You’ve ruined my shoes, you bozo!”
He looked down at Diego’s sneakers, and Jerritt got on his hands and knees to inspect matters up close. Diego’s left shoe had a speck of tuna on it.
“Surprise?” Will weakly smiled.
“You’re gonna clean my shoes with your tongue, Cricket.”
Will felt a shiver run through his toes. He ignored Diego and the gawking crowd to look at his watch. 11:09 a.m. Only two minutes to go! He chose his words carefully and flashed over them again and again in his mind. Then he held his breath, gritted his teeth and made a wish.
I’ve got to get free! Don’t let Diego embarrass me in front of everyone! I wish someone would make him stop!
Will knew that an ordinary run-of-the-mill wish didn’t stand much chance of coming true. He had to do something to amplify the wish, like wishing on a four-leaf clover or blowing out birthday candles. In the absence of those types of wish-magnifiers, whenever Will needed a wish to come true, he crossed his fingers for luck. Usually crossing two fingers was enough, but this was a dire situation. So Will crossed everything. First he crossed his fingers, then his arms and thumbs. He wrapped his legs around one another, which made him look like a human pretzel. He even tried crossing his toes in his shoes.
Diego’s fist wound back for the kill. Will was seconds away from needing a full body cast.
I wish it would all stop! Will wished again, now crossing his eyes too.
Suddenly, the cafeteria went silent. All the giggles and gasps ceased. The cheerleaders froze in place; their eyes rolled in disgust. The jocks paused in mid-air like excited apes. The teachers didn’t move a muscle. Even the giant apple clock on the wall stopped ticking. Everything, everyone was frozen in time—except Will.
“Wow,” he said, prying himself from Diego’s grip.
As many wishes as he’d made throughout his life, nothing of this magnitude had ever been granted. Will glanced down at his watch suspiciously. It was 11:11 a.m.
His heart skipped a beat. “The magic minute!”
The date was November 11. A year ago, this day hadn’t meant a thing to Will. Then he stumbled upon the magic wishing legend while surfing the Net. One particular website had articles from numerologists who had studied the date and time number-sequence. The theory that Will bought into was the simplest, a long-established rule of wishing: repeating a wish makes it more likely to come true. That’s precisely what 11/11 is—the number one repeated over and over again.
There are two brief moments when the wishing magic is even stronger—11:11 a.m. and 11:11 p.m. Wishes made at these times on this particular day were practically guaranteed to come true. But why? Will thought that maybe those times signified when the universe was perfectly in sync and anything was possible. His head pounded just thinking about it.
He sprinted around the cafeteria—his wish had come true!
A spitball aimed at Duncan Sapp hung in midair. Rocky Quick was in the middle of spewing out chewed bits of tuna. Will bumped into Mr. Jorgensen, a seventh grade math teacher, whose statuesque body had froze while trying to jump over a chair on his way toward Diego. Mr. Jorgensen fell to the ground and rolled on his side but didn’t flinch.
Will raised an eyebrow, and a smirk came over his face. He ran back to Diego. With all his might, he resituated Diego’s fist so that it aimed back at his own face. Next, he moved Jerritt, still on the floor, right behind Diego.
Then he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. On the other side of the room, something moved! Will’s knees trembled as he scanned the motionless crowd. He saw a blur of color shoot behind a table. Will backed into the far corner as the shakes in his knees spread to the rest of his body.
A minute passed, and Will thought his mind had just been playing tricks on him. Then, out of the blue, three people popped into sight and stood a few feet away from him. They were the most peculiar individuals he’d ever seen. One was an abnormally tall man with a small body and exceptionally long legs. Another was a kid about Will’s age, whose hair changed color with every movement he made—first blonde, then red, then velvet purple! The third wore a jacket that sparkled and glowed. Will was mesmerized, but when he looked up at the person wearing it, the man shook his head disapprovingly.
“Huh—hello there,” Will said.
The man with the stunning jacket pointed to the frozen crowd and said, “Time’s up, William.”
Will turned toward his schoolmates, and the strangers broke away. He looked back, but they had vanished.
All at once, the cafeteria was in full motion again. The spitball hit Duncan in the ear. Babs Bykowski squealed as Rocky’s tuna landed on her tray instead of his. Best of all, Diego’s fist punched his own face. He gave himself a black eye and fell backwards, stumbling over the strategically placed Jerritt.
“Ow! Watch where you’re going!” Jerritt yelled.
The smile on Will’s face slowly faded. He thought he’d feel good seeing someone else suffer for a change, but as everyone in the lunchroom began laughing at Diego, Will couldn’t take it anymore. He dashed through the cafeteria doors and into the hallway, looking back at the melee.
No one seemed to realize that time had stopped. They were all carrying on as if nothing had happened. Even Mr. Jorgensen, who had wound up on the floor, simply got up and dusted himself off.
But the three strangers who’d appeared when time stood still—who were they? And why had they been immune?
Will was thrilled that he’d discovered the power of the magic wish minute, but furious that Diego had forced him to waste it on a wish to stop time. Will’s original wish had been for something he’d wanted his whole life. But he’d get another chance tonight. It was, after all, only the first 11:11 of the day.
You write one short story at the age of 10 about a pit on the moon laden with poisonous hamburgers, and suddenly you’re an author. That’s the way I saw it when “Murder on the Moon” became an instant hit with my fourth-grade classmates. I’d always been a voracious reader, but upon sharing my little yarn with my friends, I suddenly realized the freedom (and power!) of becoming the storyteller. Over the next few years, I would go on to write several short stories, mostly involving murder mysteries and my schoolmates.
The thrill of whodunits subsided when I discovered the long and (theoretically) rewarding payoffs of the soap operatic style of telling tales, which was followed quickly by my unearthing of the superhero fiction genre (which is just soap operas in spandex).Fast-forward to my last semester at Florida State University, where I was starting to regret my decision to pursue a business management degree instead of something more literary. I had big stories in my head. Instead of second-guessing my educational path, I used my free time to pursue my passion. A few months later, my first novel had arrived in the world—and it wasn’t pretty. Like all writers, though, I had to start somewhere.
I went back to the drawing board with my ideas for The Survivors—a contemporary fantasy story about what would happen if real people found themselves empowered with superhuman abilities. But The Survivors wasn’t so pretty either. The concept was fun but the execution was rough. It was temporarily shelved while I set out to learn how to be a better and publishable writer. And 10 years later, I think I may have learned a thing or two.
During the interim years, I finally found my true voice in Wishing Will. While The Survivors will always be my baby, Wishing Will has been my favorite child (I know, I’m not supposed to have one, but this book just hits all of the right notes). In many ways, the work of an artist is like his or her child. Now my little ones are ready to play with the big kids.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!