Roland West, Outcast
Publisher: November 17, 2018
Publication Date: Silver Fire Publishing
He's searching for the truth but is he ready to proclaim it?
Shy Roland West, who fears speaking up, attends high school with gossips and troublemakers. After panicking in speech class and becoming the subject of gossip, his best friend, Peter Brant, pushes him to uncover the vandals of an outcast's house before they strike again. With the Catholic youth group, he helps repair the damage to the outcast's house and questions fellow students, but he draws more negative attention to himself. In his search, Roland finds himself ridiculed and challenged about his beliefs, becoming more of a target. As he draws closer to uncovering the perpetrator, his friend Caitlyn is threatened. Once Roland discovers the sinister reason behind the vandalism, he must overcome his fear of speaking out to confront and expose the perpetrators.
Sexuality: While there is no explicit content, a female teen character struggles with same-sex attraction. A teen boy is shown with effeminate behavior but his “sexual orientation” is not mentioned.
A character sees a girl show a boy her phone with a picture of herself posed seductively in swimsuit.
A character tells another character that “some things belong in marriage. Only.” And he says that marriage is between a guy and a girl for life.Violence & Gore: Mild
Two teen girls fight until two teen boys break it up. A boy reads/thinks about stories of several martyrs, including the manner in which they died.
A character remembers an incident where he was bullied at school, pinned down and given a spray tan.Profanity: None
There is no explicit language. It is indicated that bad names are spray painted on a garage door, but the words are not given.
Bad language is indicated in one scene in this way: “What the—” She glared…and then cursed.Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking: None
One character thinks another might smoke, and decides he’d try to help her break the habit, if it’s true.
While searching for clues, a character discovers beer cans in a garbage can and hears a rumor that a neighbor wanders around the neighborhood drunk.
What inspired you to write Roland West, Outcast?
We live in a culture that is not open to the truth or that wants a watered-down version of it, especially when it comes to tough moral issues. And when a Christian speaks up they are often labeled “judgmental” or “hater.” Many Christians are afraid of offending others, and so they remain silent. This is what the culture wants; it wants to take away our voice.
But the world needs Christ. The world needs truth. As Christians, we’ve been sent into the world to speak the truth. Happiness and salvation are found only in the truth. So if we really care about others, we need the courage to speak up and to be countercultural. If we remain silent, we risk losing souls to hell. I wrote this book to support the faithful in speaking up for truth, especially when it’s hard. And I felt that Roland West, as shy as he is, would be the perfect character for this story.
The last book you published, Anyone but Him, took place several years ahead of this one but with the same characters. Is it hard to bounce around in the West Brothers’ timeline?
It was a bit of a challenge. Book four in the West Brothers series, Standing Strong, takes place at roughly the same time as Roland West, Outcast. One scene is even shown in both stories but from different perspectives, so that was a bit tricky. I had to make sure the weather was right. The storm in Standing Strong had to match up with the storm in Roland West, Outcast. I also had to watch conversations between Roland and his twin brothers, making sure to stay consistent. And I was thinking about Anyone but Him whenever Caitlyn and Jarret were in the same scene. Fun! But, yes, a bit of a challenge. And for all of the West Brother books going forward [I’ll write at least one more: the Confirmation story] I have to make sure Jarret comes across as being a bad boy, even though he’s changed now, because that’s how Caitlyn saw him.
Are the experiences in the story based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The main story idea is based on current events. Even the ugly incident in the prologue is like an actual situation that I read about. But many of the scenes in this story spring from events in my past. For example, my own mortifying experiences giving speeches in high school helped me develop Roland’s first scene in this story. Also, I think most people can identify with Peter when he has a crush on someone who doesn’t seem to notice him. Every one of my characters has something in their personality or habits that I can relate to, even the “bad” ones.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
In my younger years, I joined an online critique group with both new and experienced writers. Everyone had to give critiques in order to receive them. Some writers were just learning this skill, but others had a wealth of knowledge. The replies I received for the first chapter I submitted were the hardest. One very talented writer ripped my chapter to shreds—not in a mean way, but it was painful nonetheless. I put the critique aside and decided I wasn’t cut out for writing; it was a hobby and I would never be an actual “writer.” But a few days later, unable to give up writing, I looked at the critique again. This one critique transformed my writing. I learned to use sensory details, to writer stronger sentences, to show rather than tell, and a whole lot more. Even though it can be a difficult experience, I highly recommend that writers join critique groups.
My favorite compliments are the ones I’ve received from teen readers. One struggling reader finished Roland West, Loner and sent a text message to his teacher—a teaching nun—asking for the next book in the series because, even though he doesn’t like to read, he really enjoyed my book. Another teen posted on social media that I was her favorite author, and she couldn’t wait for my next book to come out! Authors love to know how readers feel about their books. A good review is the best reward!
What books and authors have influenced your writing?
I read books in a variety of genres and often come away from a book with a story idea or with a fresh way of approaching different facets of writing. Louis de Wohl’s saint stories were among my favorites as a young adult. I like how de Wohl provides a good historical framework while letting the reader really get to know the characters. Every failure and trial leads to the climactic scene where the main character conquers the battle within. I’ve also been influenced by Frank Peretti’s and Dean Koontz’s books that show the spiritual warfare in creative ways.
My writing is also influenced by the authors at CatholicTeenBooks.com. I’ve read most of their books, and I’ve also received writing advice from many of these talented authors. They each have their own unique way of bringing the faith to life through a story. As a Catholic fiction writer, I want to write captivating stories with strong characters who face real challenges, and then move the story to a dramatic faith-filled climax.
What do you think makes a good story?
I believe that a good story needs interesting characters that readers will want to know more about and want to follow from page to page. And the characters need strong goals. They must want something or want to avoid something badly. Whether it’s labeled “Christian” fiction or not, I believe that a good story should speak to us about human nature, who we are as human persons, made in the image and likeness of God.
"Theresa Linden has done it again with Roland West, Outcast. We meet the characters we've come to know and love, Roland, Peter, Caitlyn and others. When a new girl in town--and school--is the target of a hateful act, the Fire Starters are quick to help clean up the mess. Peter and Roland also try to find out who did it, but a shy Roland and a smitten Peter have to confront their fears along the way. In this story, Linden touches upon issues that are prevalent in our society, and she captures them with God's truth and compassion. Struggling as Christians in a world that is so focused on selfish desires, Outcast reminds us that we should always stand up for what's right, regardless of what the mass tries to push us to believe. Outcast is a fun, emotional roller-coaster, with realistic characters and a lot of suspense." T. M. Gaouette, author of the Faith & Kung Fu series
"Roland West, Outcast is both entertaining and timely! Theresa Linden is at her best in capturing Roland's shy reluctance and Peter's awkward infatuation. A well-written book for Catholic teens that addresses the social pressure to kowtow to shifting notions of right and wrong (particularly in regard to same-sex attraction) is long overdue. If you're ever been silent when you should've spoken up, if your beliefs have ever been mischaracterized or misunderstood, if you want to get along without compromising your conscience, then Roland West, Outcast is for you." Carolyn Astfalk, author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours
"A courageous, compassionate (and, believe it or not, fun!) story about a topic many of us would prefer to ignore: Same-Sex Attraction and our duty as Catholics to stand up for God's immutable laws, even when to do so is painful. If you're a teen facing this situation, or know someone who is, you need to read this newest novel in Theresa Linden's award-winning West Brothers Series. This story is difficult to put down and brilliant handling of a tough subject!" Susan Peek, author of bestseller Saint Magnus the Last Viking
"This book runs parallel to many events in the book Standing Strong. But we see different aspects of those events. Roland is stuck in a hard place. He is reserved but is pushed to join a new group trying to counter intolerance. But soon he feels like any view but his is acceptable. Linden handles these elements in a masterful way. And they are questions and attitudes that could be taken from the headlines of almost any paper today. An excellent read for teens, and for us older folks that just love a great read!" Steven R. McEvoy, Book Reviews & More
Raised in a military family, Theresa Linden developed strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. She began writing in grade school and her passion for writing has never waned. Love for faith, family, and freedom inspired her to write the Chasing Liberty trilogy, a dystopian story about a future she hopes never becomes a reality. She is also the author of award-winning "Roland West, Loner" the first in a series of Catholic teen fiction. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, she balances her time between family, homeschooling, and writing. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, their three teenage boys, and a sweet old dog named Rudy.
I've said it before and I will say it again: Theresa Linden never fails to impress. Although I didn't like the subject matter/plot of the book as much of the others, there was a stark reality to it (perhaps more than the rest of the series) that peered through as the characters dealt with life, loneliness, and emotions and issues that teenagers can't escape these days. Above all, Roland West, Outcast keenly illustrates the importance of standing up for what you believe in and standing up for the Faith, no matter how much you want to slip into the shadows, no matter how much it makes you an outcast. "Better to live ready to die for the truth than to live dead to the truth and to who you really are. Or who you're called to be."
A must-read for Catholic teenagers, especially those struggling with contemporary issues.
Theresa Linden's West Brothers Series is a gift for all teens. This recent release is another exciting story that includes many uncomfortable, worldly issues that teens deal with daily, and wraps it in an exciting plot with a mysterious twist. It takes courage to be a Christian in this world. Roland West shows us how, and so does Peter. You'll have to read this book to find out what I mean. I recommend this book....actually, the whole series...for all teens. It would make a fantastic gift.
Speaking up can be hard for adults, let alone for young people, especially in an environment where your beliefs are misunderstood or not welcome, to put it mildly.
Outcast is both timely and timeless. Timely because the issue of same-sex attraction has been brought to the forefront in our culture, our schools, and in our families, and timeless because there is always a tension in saying what you believe when you're not sure how it will be received. Something that's especially difficult for those of us who dislike conflict or are shy.
But lest you think Outcast is a preachy diatribe - it's not. Theresa Linden has developed her characters so well that they jump off the page. They're fun to read and know and there's a little mystery to solve as well.