Guest Post by Robert A. Polk, Author of OPERATION TREE ROPER

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to Robert A. Polk, author of the Middle Grade novel, OPERATION TREE ROPER: AN EYE ABOVE. When asked what I’d like Robert to blog about, I remembered the pang of parental anguish – and ultimately triumph – I’d felt upon reading that Robert’s daughter had influenced the creation of his main character, Declan. I wanted to know more about his personal experiences and the message he hoped to deliver through this story. Thank you, Robert, for sharing a bit of your story.

Robert: Thank you so much for having me on your blog this week, Lisa. I’m going to get a little personal in this post in order to share a bit about the creation, or actually, the discovery, of my book’s main character. You see, OPERATION TREE ROPER would not exist without the influence of my children, especially my third child. She was born with only one eye.

When she was an infant and toddler and we’d be out in public, people would often come to see the cute little baby and then awkwardly hasten away when they saw her face. Those people weren’t trying to be mean, they simply didn’t know how to address us without focusing on her absent eye.

She’d never respond to people’s questions and comments which were frequently directed toward me anyway and often phrased something like “What’s wrong with her?” Can you imagine a child growing through early years of life and hearing and seeing those comments over and over? She’s learning about herself from the expressions on the faces of the people around her. So what if her parents always focused on her strengths and lovingly accepted her as a beautiful and strong young child. The larger world around her saw her differently. She noticed.

I noticed, too. She was still an infant, with two toddler siblings when it sank in much deeper, what an important role her mother and I should play in our children’s lives. We had to find that correct balance of sheltering, nurturing and supporting that each of our children required to grow into confident and capable individuals. When my first three children were very young, I began telling them, “It’s more important how you act, than how you look.” I still remind my children that.

In crafting Declan, I did not so much create him as I tried to hear him. And I tried to hear him through the experiences and emotions of my own children.

When I began writing the first draft, Declan was too shy and defensive. Although that was a necessary portion of his personality, its significance diminished as the story evolved. While this did fit his age and attitude, I began to see that it was only a small part of him.

As the book evolved through the revision stages, I heard more clearly Declan’s sense of humor, intelligence, and fortitude. I recognized his family devotion and fierce loyalty to his siblings in my own children, in particular, my third child. Declan was becoming more multidimensional, and I was seeing moments of stubborn strength and courage in the face of adversity.

I hope everyone who reads OPERATION TREE ROPER will have opportunities to consider that the value of other people might just be how they act, rather than how they look.

By Robert Polk
Adventures, Anaiah Press
Twelve-year-old Declan Parker was only born with one eye, but all he seems to have trouble seeing in proper perspective is himself. All he wants is for kids to see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall. To that end, he sets out to make money helping with his dad’s tree care business.
Unfortunately, when his dad lands in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan’s surgery hopes are wrecked. His only hope remains in a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran. Can they help him save his dad’s business, or will Declan’s once-courageous drive turn into total despair?
Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above is a well-crafted story about a strong, dauntless young man who redefines the value of self-reflection. Declan is a character you won’t be able to forget.

Welcome to your new favorite book…

Release Date: October 7, 2014
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Author Bio:
Robert Polk lives in western Nebraska where he shares his love of books and the great outdoors with his wife and seven children. He is a former school counselor, business owner, and tree climbing arborist. Robert participates in his church and local community, currently serving on several non-profit boards. 
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