Steve Watkins has made a lasting impression on me with his ability to develop characters with authentic voices. Certainly, his stories are well researched and written with a keen and dynamic fluency, but it is his cast of young characters that have the same interests and conversations as my own teenaged students that has captured my interest. In each of his previous books, Down Sand Mountain, What Comes After, and Juvie, Watkins has extended a level of respect to his young protagonists that is lacking in many young adult novels. His characters have overcome realistically serious conflicts, and Watkins has proven through their development that he trusts them to be up to the challenges.
When Watkins revealed last year that he would be writing a paranormal war series for Scholastic, I was eager see the concept come to life in the first installment, Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway. Watkins says he was honored when Scholastic approached him to write the series. With only a couple of pages of notes as starting point, he developed a longer treatment and has since worked on four of the volumes, the fourth of which involves The Battle of Fredericksburg.