Jason Keller, Lucasville native, might have moved out of the area, but he shows his roots in his recently published novel, “The Ballad of Edison Bestwell.” The novel took more than two years for Keller to write, but was finally published by iUniverse on May 30. The book can be purchased as a traditional hardback or paperback novel on Amazon, as well as a digital Kindle copy.
The novel follows characters Edison Bestwell and Benjamin Baldridge, two childhood friends that are entangled in the case of a missing girl. During the summer between fifth and sixth grade, Benjamin’s sister, Lily, goes missing. Lily is never found and it isn’t until a tragic accident seven years later that the case is brought back up, thrusting Benjamin and Edison into the turmoil and the enigma of her disappearance.
They soon discover something that makes them question everything they know about their small town, Cripple Creek, Ky., and what they believe is possible. The boys are quickly enveloped in a situation with law enforcement, with federal agent Tucker Davidson and local Sheriff Harlen Jenkins hot on their trails. The two friends are forced into a race across ridges and through the hollows of backwoods Kentucky, with a discovery that could settle the case once and for all. The only problem is finding someone to believe them.
Keller says that the two boys in the story are based on the misadventures between him and his childhood friend, Barry Blevins.
“I loosely based these characters off of me, I’m Edison Bestwell, and my best friend that I grew up with, who is Benjamin Baldridge,” Keller said.
The characters aren’t the only bits of inspiration used from Keller’s childhood. The entire area plays as backdrop to Keller’s fictional town, Cripple Creek.
“When I talk about the river, I’m referring to the Scioto River,” Keller explained. “The town, Cripple Creek, is mostly based off Lucasville. I used Fairground Road and I make a play on words with other road names. I also put a few things in there that people who grew up in Lucasville, or are familiar with the area, will definitely be able to identify.”
The cover of the book features a barn in the top left corner. The barn plays a very important role in the story and in fact, was his inspiration to write the book.
“When I was growing up, there was this barn that sat off the edge of my friend’s property,” Keller said. “It was an old, run-down barn that we always had to walk past. This barn used to really give us the willies. When we walked down the road, we would always end up running past it, because we got ourselves scared. “
This barn, used as a setting for several major events in the story line, can be found on Kinstler Rd. in Lucasville, which also makes an appearance in the book.
Keller is already working on his second novel, which will be completely set aside from the universe of his first. Keller doesn’t want to become an author that writes constant additions to his stories, which he feels is so frequently done in today’s literature. He has no official title for his next book, but has the working title “It Takes a Child to Raise a Village” currently on it.
Keller says that the one thing that his new book will have in common with his first is his muse of Lucasville.
“As a writer, I was taught by many professors to write what I know. Obviously, I’m not going to write about war time Nazi Germany or something like that. You have to draw on what you know. Tom Clancy writes about military, John Grisham writes about law. That’s who they are and that’s why their writing is so authentic. I’m a product of my environment, Scioto County and Lucasville, and that is how I write,” Keller explained.
“I use Portsmouth, Lucasville, Scioto County and all of these places as my muse for small town life,” Keller stated. “I definitely use that Appalachia flavor and draw on my childhood experiences in my writing.”
Keller will be making an appearance at Ruby’s Diner, in Lucasville, on July 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He will be hosting a discussion about his novel, as well as signing copies. Keller will also be appearing on the 8 a.m. segment of Barb Pratt’s radio show, “Community Corner,” on July 2.