The Secret of the Haunted House
The Secret of the Haunted House (Jack Yerby)

FARMINGTON — When Jack Yerby taught at Clovis Junior High School in New Mexico, he discovered that the boys in his classes often stopped reading in middle school.

"Up until about that time, they were avid readers," said Yerby, a retired Farmington High School teacher who lives in Farmington.

His new book, "The Secret of the Haunted House," aims to change that. The book, published by Black Rose Writing, will be released on Dec. 12.

Yerby said that young adult literature is often geared toward girls, and adolescent boys sometimes don't have enough material to read.

"I think the reason (boys) quit reading is the material didn't interest them," Yerby said.

Yerby remembered his love of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries while growing up and modeled his first-ever novel on some of those stories.

"The Secret of the Haunted House" follows two brothers who investigate strange occurrences at an abandoned, burned down house.

The main characters, a pair of brothers named Kenny and James Basset, are based on two boys Yerby met at St. John's Episcopal Church in Farmington. The boys, who would now be in high school, lived in a mobile home near a burned house in Wild Horse Valley between Farmington and Bloomfield, Yerby said.

"I betta tested the story on kids, and they liked it," Yerby said.

A fifth-grade class in Pueblo, Colo., read the story and provided feedback. Yerby said the teacher in Pueblo liked that the story provided a "moral lesson of being nice to your family without preaching."

While Yerby said the book maintains a light tone, it also includes some important lessons. The strict mother makes the children complete chores, and when Kenny calls James names, an adult always stands up for James.

In the future, Yerby said he may write more Basset Brothers mysteries. He is currently working on rewriting some of the Hardy Boys mysteries and setting them in the modern times. He said the kids will be equipped with skateboards and cell phones.

"Since I live in this area, they're going to be from the Four Corners," Yerby said.

IF YOU GO

What: Book signing with Jack Yerby

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21

Where: Hastings, 3020 E 20th St. in Farmington

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.