• Bex Drate

Current Project: Half Tree

Updated: May 24

HALF TREE is a 93,000-word young adult science fiction novel that channels the eerie Americana of STRANGER THINGS, the fast-paced small-town mystery of TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET by Karen M. McManus, and the bioethical reckoning and futuristic tech of THIS MORTAL COIL by Emily Suvada. HALF TREE is like if Agents Mulder and Scully showed up to dredge Dawson’s Creek.

Be yourself. That’s what people say when Allison Keller transfers to a new school, but Allie also knows what they think. Since middle school, she has had the unpleasant experience of hearing the thoughts of everyone nearby. She naively tells a classmate, and soon the gossip sends her crying to a bathroom stall where she vows to keep her mindreading a secret. If they want normal, she’ll give them normal. High school is going just fine until she unwittingly uses her mental ability to uncover a plot to murder her estranged (and wow, he got tall) childhood best friend, JD. Allie must choose between protecting JD and protecting her shameful secret.

But then JD confesses that he can read minds, too, and Allie can’t help but piece together the mystery, though the stakes are definitely higher than in the detective games she used to play on the family farm. After JD’s father is wrongly arrested in the disappearance of a popular girl from their small town, Allie and JD discover that JD’s dad has been keeping secrets of his own — like the fact that JD is a refugee from the future, hidden in the past using experimental time travel. And that he’s being hunted.

In the year 2264, there are two branches of humanity — those who have been genetically modified to be healthier and smarter, and those who haven’t. The two groups are locked in a brutal war. JD’s genes hold the key to a powerful biological weapon — a weapon that time-traveling DNA hunters promise will end the Gene War and save millions of lives. But Allie can read between their lies.

Allie must accept the power she loathes, and muster the courage of her youth to save JD, and just maybe, the future generations of humanity.

Everyone has that thing — that thing that makes them want to hide in the bathroom. HALF TREE is about rediscovering that aggressively authentic little kid inside — as if the world depends on it. And maybe it does.

HALF TREE will be queried in the summer of 2020.