Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sixteen-Year-Old Marina Alexandra Handwerk Just Published Her Mystery, Hey Cool, I've Never Seen A Teacher With His Head Cut Off Before!
By Marina Handewerk

San Pedro, CA. March 2007.

People are always complaining that our public schools are turning out semi-literate teenagers. Sixteen-year-old Marina Alexandra Handwerk disproves this myth: she just published her first novel.

Marina, a tenth grader at San Pedro High School, has always had a passion for reading and writing. Marina's mother, Linda Handwerk, remembers, "When Marina was a toddler, her stuffed animals slept alone in a hammock above her bed, while she'd sleep cuddling two dozen or so of her favorite books." Marina came up with the idea for her book as a role-playing mystery for her friends. After a flurry of e-mails with her friend Emelia, Marina sat down at her laptop and began to write. Just over four months later, Marina screamed, "Mom!!!!! I'm finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Hey Cool, I've Never Seen A Teacher With His Head Cut Off Before! is a young-adult mystery novel that will make you "either die from laughing or from the suspense." The heroine, the new kid in town Emelia Newes, stumbles over the decapitated body of her math teacher. Although this does help her make friends and adjust to life at her new school, it leaves her with a whole new set of problems. Along with her mysterious new friend, Tanya, Emelia sets out to solve the mystery. In order to do this, the girls must deal with thugs, snobs, and criminal masterminds, along with the "normal" residents of Something-Or-Other, such as Mr. Kowzitz, the murder victim, who wears a green suit jacket, purple pants, and an orange t-shirt and teaches his Pre-Algebra class that five times five is ten and the times three is six, Officer Swenny, a police officer who makes prank calls to the suspects in her cases, and the mayor, who gives a campaign speech instead of a eulogy at a funeral. Exaggerated as it is, anyone who is or ever has been in a middle school will whole-heartedly identify with the world Marina creates.

Despite the gruesome title, Hey Cool, I’ve Never Seen A Teacher With His Head Cut Off Before! is actually a lighthearted book intended mainly for middle-school aged students. The title is not meant to be offensive to teachers, in fact, Marina’s mom is a teacher. The title actually comes from a phrase a minor character uses any time anything happens. Other uses of this phrase in the novel include “Hey cool, I’ve never gotten two D’s and an F on my report card before!” and “Hey cool, I’ve never had a bomb in my classroom before!” Marina said that “When I first told my grandpa about the title he warned me that I could be considered a disturbed student. At the time I thought he was paranoid and just laughed about it, but now people really are making stores take down my posters.”

Hey Cool, I've Never Seen A Teacher With His Head Cut Off Before! is available through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Book signings, at which Marina will be reading from her book, are scheduled for May 6, from 2:00 to 4:00, at Williams Book Store, 443 W 6th St, San Pedro, CA., Under the Bridge, 358 W 6th St, San Pedro, CA, and at Barnes and Noble in Torrance sometime in June. Diana