Thursday, February 25, 2010

"An Everyday Hero"

North Adams native pens his first children's book

Posted: 02/24/2010
For The Advocate

NORTH ADAMS - Children's books and adult novels are rife with heroes and heroines, but rarely are we given the back story as to what led that character to become heroic.

In local author C.A. Chicoine's self-published children's book "The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks," the first in a planned series of twelve, the reader gets to experience the back story of Gray Locke - a 30-something character from Chicoine's online blog story "Lonely Satellite" - and discover the childhood events that prepared Gray for his "hero status" later in life.

In November 2008, introduced the Internet world to an adult Gray, a technician on a satellite orbiting the Sun in the year 2019.

"Stressed, and with little money," the first entry reads, "Gray left Earth to take a job on Satellite 2. This opportunity gave him space and time to reflect upon life, family and friends."

According to Chicoine, something falls into the adult Gray's lap at his new job that tests his capacity for heroism.

"He has no choice; he can either go with the flow or he can do something to help humanity," Chicoine explained.

Naturally, like most heroes would, Gray chooses to do something.

"That's just the kind of person he is. You learn that in these (children's) books," said Chicoine, who is currently at work on the second book in his Gray Locke children's series.

"The series is the journey of a hero," he added, but "not the kind of Hercules hero, but an intellectual, spiritual kind of hero."

Set in western Massachusetts at Gray's grandparents' house, inspired by the home of Chicoine's childhood friends Laurie and Bobby DeBlois in North Adams (Chicoine's hometown, and inspiration for many other locations in the book), "The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks" introduces readers to a day in the life of 10-year-old Gray.

"Gray is very imaginative and very inquisitive and he is very determined to find out something," Chicoine said.

Readers get a glimpse of these character traits early on in the story as Gray, after overhearing his uncle discussing some "weeping rocks" with his father and grandfather, quickly becomes entrenched in a quest to find these so-called rocks. Along his journey to find the rocks, Gray chats with garden gnomes, hides from pirates in a nearby cave and encounters some mysterious characters (maybe even a ghost or two) in the brook by the quarry.

But Chicoine doesn't consider this book a ghost story - "I don't really believe in ghosts," he said.

He does, however, believe in encouraging children's curiosity and inquisitiveness, which is what he hopes the first book in the Gray Locke series will do.

"I try to leave things open to interpretation and encourage people to ask questions about local history," Chicoine said.

That is why many of the mysteries Gray encounters in the book are left unanswered to both himself and the reader. (Hint: A little knowledge of the history of Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, where many of Gray's adventures occur, may help answer a few.)

The real mystery, though, which begins to unfold in the first Gray Locke book, is how a seemingly ordinary 10-year-old boy develops the characteristics necessary to perform various acts of heroism later in life.

"Anybody can be a hero, and that's my point," Chicoine said. "Under the right circumstances or conditions, anyone, I think, can perform a heroic duty."

The first book in C.A. Chicoine's Gray Locke series, "The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks," can be purchased for $12 at Chapters Bookstore in Pittsfield, Papyri Books in North Adams, Water Street Books in Williamstown or online at