Official Site of the Award Winning MONTOOTH Series
Award Winning Author Robert Jay
Robert Jay has received numerous accolades for his writing. He has been honored by the Florida Writers Association, receiving its prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award for historical fiction. He has also been recognized by the Young Voices Foundation for his devotion to inspiring and educating his audience, receiving Young Voices Literary Awards for both adult and young adult fiction.
Jay holds an economics degree from Kent State University and an MBA from the University of Indianapolis. A 24-year international banker, he presided over the 135-branch U.S. Military Banking system in West Germany, Holland, and Greece during the tumultuous years surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Since 1992, Jay has served as the president of a national highway safety company headquartered in Florida. He holds several patents for safety devices used on roads.
Jay lives with his wife, Hildegard, on a barrier island south of St. Petersburg, Florida. He delights in telling his five grandchildren stories about his childhood adventures in the 1950s.
From the desk of Robert Jay...
I know. I know. This year, I promise.
“When are you releasing Montooth 4?” That’s the prime question the website received in 2016. This year – 2017 – is the answer. True, that gives me at least 300 more days, but don’t be greedy; it’s on the way.
Montooth 4 is set in the Fifties as The Crew and associates finish college and begin their careers. We will find Carty in the CIA, Mack on the staff of the Stars and Stripes newspaper, Hale in the US State Department, and Blake operating as a US Army Ranger. Grant moves to Munich to operate the American Express branch of the US Military bank there, while Elena moves up in Fidel Castro’s growing guerilla movement in the mountains of southeastern Cuba.
We will make a harrowing visit through Slovenia and Romania in a WWII flashback and also learn about the Caribbean pirate contribution to Sally Canfield’s treasure.
My signature swamp fable for Montooth 4 has been completed. All I will mention is that you will find it to be the most colorful of the four.
By the way, I have been contributing snippets to Montooth 5 as Montooth 4 progresses, so the wait for that final (fifth) book in the series should be shorter than the time gap following Montooth 3: Red Cross of Gold. Moreover, there will not be an intervening book like Explaining ObamaCare to Kids to slow things up.
PBS this week featured an American who joined Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba in the Fifties. William Morgan of Toledo, Ohio, became enchanted with the romanticism of anti-Batista revolutionaries. He worked himself up in the second front of Castro's army and became a key ally during the war and during the early stages after victory.
Even after seeing Castro sign trade and assistance deals with Russia, Morgan continued to reject the notion of Cuba becoming a Communist nation. When Russian soldiers began arriving and other evidence became irrefutable, he secretly re-established a small revolutionary force in the mountains to resist the Castro regime.
By that time, though, Russian military and secret police were heavily entrenched and seeking out potential opposition. Informants were everywhere. Morgan was called to a meeting in Havana where he was arrested and placed before a firing squad.
Look for William Morgan, the real life adventurer, to make his appearance in Montooth 4 and Montooth 5.
Did you see the Baltimore mom who chased down her son during the downtown riots and gave him a maternal smackdown? He may suffer a few taunts from his friends, but with that kind of tough love, he has a better chance than they of making a good life as an adult.
The incident reminded me of how home-style discipline helped to form The Crew's Hale Wending into a success. Congrats to the Baltimore mom, and let's hope other parents take hold of their families. See if you recall the following from Montooth and the Canfield Witch:
Hale’s mother emigrated from the Bahamas where she had been a school teacher before meeting Mr. Wending. Their six children, of whom Hale was the oldest, all attended Cross Creek. The Wendings were often far ahead of the other students, because Mrs. Wending put all of her children through rigorous drills and additional lessons at home.
Mrs. Wending told Hale and her other children, “You can sit around, play games, slack off, weep, and cry, ‘woe is me, woe is me,’ and be a failure. Or you can get to work and out-perform everyone else. If you do the latter, you will be a success. You may have a hard time, and everything and everyone will not always be fair, but you will succeed. When you are grown, I hope that you will choose the latter. Regardless, as long as you are in this house, I’m making the choice for you.
Recently, I read an article about a young boy who was bullied for taking his My Little Pony lunchbox to school. It brought back memories of my own childhood.
Now an oldster, I can look back with objectivity at bullying in my school years. As the smallest in almost every class, I offered a tempting target. That was before I quickly fought back with flailing fists, a bit like Ritchie taking on Scut Farkus in The Christmas Story. Bullies were taken aback in surprise and hesitated to respond, and bystanders rallied to my defense in the few instances where it was needed. Whether they were inspired by my underdog status or rapid response, I never knew, but suspect the combination. In any event, one episode every year or two was adequate to set the proper parameters.
On a few occasions, I rallied to the defense of others who were too fearful and hesitant to fend for themselves. In these latter years, I regret not having done so more frequently.
I understand that parents need to counsel kids to turn the other cheek, as did mine, but I knew that down deep, they admired my spunk. Interestingly, I was never in trouble for fighting. The bullies certainly had no interest in publicizing their instigations, and onlookers kept things quiet about my aggressive reactions.
I am often asked who my favorite character is among those in the Montooth novels. When I offer Haywood Dolder, the disgusting bully, it evokes surprise. But when I explain how much I enjoy pitting him against the series' heroine, Carty Andersson, they understand; she always gets the best of him. There is little so satisfying as a bully losing.
Here I am with a steaming cup of coffee and a Dunkin' Donuts jelly donut sliced in half for easy dunking. As Sally Canfield, the erstwhile witch from Montooth and the Canfield Witch, says, dunking is not only allowed; it is mandatory. By the way, does anyone know why Dunkin' Donuts does not add glaze (as Krispy Kreme does) or frosting to their jelly donuts? Their little spray of sugar dissolves when you dunk. Maybe they need to change their name to No-Dunkin' Donuts.
Anyway, in Montooth 3: Red Cross of Gold, you will read an homage to an iconic Cleveland donut shop, Jack Frost. Some of the sites mentioned in the Montooth books are fictitious, but many are real. You may recall the Columbia Restaurant and Sebring Race Track from the first book and Raiford Prison and the University of Havana from the second, for example. Jack Frost too is a real place -- founded in 1937, operating in the same location when The Crew stopped by in 1954, and going strong today.
Early in my marriage and several pounds ago, my wife and I passed by Jack Frost on the way home from work off Public Square in downtown Cleveland. Occasionally, we would acquire a dozen for the night's dessert. Usually, though, they were completely eaten before we got home, thereby becoming dinner. Fortunately, the donuts contained most of the important food groups: grain, dairy (the "bumbels" you will read about in the book), fruit (the frosting when it was strawberry), and vegetables (sugar cane).
Faithful readers, rejoice. Montooth 3: Red Cross of Gold will be ready to ship on November 29th. The final editing weeks are always hectic as we nitpick the text and format to death. In September, we sent out some "not-finally-edited" softcover books to reviewers. A month later, our final edit included nearly two hundred modifications to that "almost final" version. Most, as you might assume, were of minor issue such as spacing and punctuation, but at least one involved a gosh awful name mistake by your humble author -- thank goodness for my astute editor.
I am grateful for suggestions from so many readers of what they want to see before the Montooth quintet moves to its conclusion. A recurring theme is for favorite characters to be emphasized. In Montooth 3, you will see special parts played by Mack and Carty's cousin Grant. Look for Blake, Hale, and Carty's Cuban roommate Elena to be highlighted in the final two books. I have been surprised by the love readers show for Bay, Carty's mom. Though Bay does not receive a major role, she does make a few fun comments that should amuse.
As usual, this latest Montooth book involves more than one story. Its 512 pages are the most in the series thus far. Carty as a suspect in a murder takes prime position. The recurring line following Cruz Cruz expands as he takes a more active role with Fidel Castro's movement in Cuba. We also learn how the Knights Templar and King Solomon's mines played an early part in the development of the vast fortune overseen by Sally Canfield, the erstwhile witch from the first book. Of course, my signature fable, this time involving bears, bees, and ants interacting with the enormous gator, Montooth, plays a part.
I have always written the fables as part of the books that readers could read to children too young for the main parts of the novels. A few moms have suggested that the fables were a bit too intense for their tiny tots. Nah. Give the kids a little credit. They see worse on "film at eleven." Anyway, have you ever read Grimm Brothers fairy tales and compared them to the Disney version? Yikes.
Since we released the video trailer for Montooth and the Canfield Witch, many of you have asked about an actual movie. As soon as about thirty or more generous readers send in a million dollars apiece, we will get right on it. Until then, I am afraid that you will have to await a favorable move by the aforementioned Disney.
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Super kudos to Steve Todd of Costa Mesa, California for his winning entry in the “Mystery of the Names” contest from Montooth and the Canfield Witch. He even figured out the name described as the “twist.”
We had planned to give periodic clues if no one came up with the solution (e. g., referring readers to the pages in the book where baseball scenes take place and suggesting readers look at previous “Author Notes” on the Website where I mentioned attending my first baseball game in Cleveland) — but no need, thanks to the astute Mr. Todd.
I’d anticipated that the winning entry would probably come from Cleveland or New York City, as fans in those two cities would be the most likely to recognize the names. I never expected the winner to come from California, forgetting that most reasoned Clevelanders, such as Mr. Todd and yours truly, have relocated to warming climates.
Here is Mr. Todd's winning entry:
Being from Ohio I recognized the "good names" are former Cleveland Indians baseball players. The "bad or evil" names, of course are former and current players from the dreaded New York Yankees.
The twist maybe with the name "Haywood". Would this be Clew Haywood from the movie Major League? He played the big, ugly New York Yankee, nicknamed the Indian Hater, or something to that effect.
Great use of names to further develop the "good vs. evil". I will always remember the analogy with a big smile when re-reading this book with my 8 year old and will look for the play of names on your second book!
I look forward to its release.
A Montooth and Cleveland Fan!
A list of the names involved appears below.
GOOD GUYS (Cleveland Indians)
*Minor liberties taken with spelling
Cleveland Indian Namesake
Years in Cleveland
BAD GUYS (New York Yankees)
Clem (Clemens) Hostetter
New York Yankee Namesake
Years in New York
** Baseball movie fans will recognize Clu Haywood as a fictional character from the 1989 movie, “Major League,” in which the hapless Indians cobbled together a hodgepodge of misfits that beat out the Yankees for the American League pennant.
Montooth 2: Race for the Ryland Ruby also included a "twist" with additional character names: new good guy characters continued to be named after Cleveland Indians players, while the new bad guy names were linked to the Boston Red Sox.
GOOD GUYS (Cleveland Indians)
Cleveland Indian Namesake
James “Mudcat” Grant
Years in Cleveland
BAD GUYS (Boston Red Sox)
Walker Malcolm Pettigrew IV
Boston Red Sox Namesake
Years in Boston