LaBrot, Matthew 1988(?)-
LaBROT, Matthew 1988(?)-
Born c. 1988.
Home—Greenville, TX. Agent—Sophie Cathro, Carol Fass Publicity & Public Relations, Inc., 26 West Seventeenth St., Ste. 802, New York, NY 10011; fax: 212-691-5012. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].
Agatha Award for best children's/young adult mystery, Malice Domestic, 2002, for Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery.
(With uncle, Daniel J. Hale) Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery, Top Publications (Dallas, TX), 2002.
(With Daniel J. Hale) Green Streak: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery, Top Publications (Dallas, TX), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
White Out, the third Zeke Armstrong mystery, plus additional books in the series: Blue Moon, Orange Crush, and Black Ice.
Matthew LaBrot and Daniel J. Hale share more than a keen interest in mysteries, sports, and the old Jonny Quest cartoon. They are also nephew and uncle, respectively, and are the Agatha Awardwinning writing team behind the "Zeke Armstrong" young adult mystery novels Red Card and Green Streak. LaBrot was fifteen years old at the time of the award, making him the youngest winner of this prestigious genre award.
Hale, a self-employed attorney with an M.B.A., and LaBrot, a high school student who plays a variety of sports and is the lead singer-songwriter of the band Losing Tomorrow, both live in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas. However, they are separated geographically by more than 100 miles. Much of their writing has been done online using e-mail, iChat online messaging, and the iSight camera on their Macintosh computers. Using videoconferencing, "we can see and hear each other while we work on White Out and the following books," Hale said in an interview on the Kidsreads Web site. "It's not quite as good as sitting side-by-side, but it's pretty close. If I throw out an idea and I see Matthew give me one of those 'you've got to be kidding' looks, I just drop it and move on."
Their collaboration began when LaBrot was twelve years old, and originated in Hale's attempts to cheer his nephew up after a disappointing session of soccer practice. "One day, my uncle was trying to make me feel not so down, so he started joking around, typing things on the computer, joking about some of the people on the team, and stuff," LaBrot related in an interview with Nancy Eaton on the Apple Web site. Hale and LaBrot took turns writing subsequent lines, laughing a lot and just having fun. "I told him to delete it, but he said, 'No, this could be good,'" LaBrot recalled in the interview with Eaton. "The next day, we decided to start writing a book."
Red Card, the initial book of the "Zeke Armstrong" series, was the result of that first collaboration. The novel introduces thirteen-year-old Ezekial Tobias Armstrong, who "has lived in seven countries, speaks several languages, plays many sports like a pro, drives like a stunt driver, and solves murder mysteries," wrote an interviewer on the Cornell University Web site. When Zeke finds his soccer coach, Ryan O'Connor, badly injured from a gunshot wound to the head, he has to discover who would want to kill a middle-school soccer coach. A teammate's father is arrested for attempted murder, and Zeke has evidence showing he is innocent, but no one believes him. It's up to Zeke to keep the team together while Coach Ryan is in the hospital—and to stop the killer before he finishes what he started. "Red Card is a fast-paced action story that doesn't stint on character development," commented Jo Rogers on the MyShelf.com Web site. "The characters are believable and the language is clean." The "constant action," the soccer play, the deepening mystery, and "Zeke's first-person narration should hold readers' attention," commented Janice C. Hayes in School Library Journal.
The second book in the series, Green Streak, finds Zeke and his best friend, Richard "Pow Wow" Gao, competing in an inline skating contest in New York City. When the two see another skater dressed all in green knock down an old lady and steal her purse, Zeke pursues the thief while Pow Wow helps the lady. Zeke recovers her heart medicine, which has fallen out of the purse, and overhears a conversation that makes him think the old lady—wealthy Nattie Winthrop—is still in danger. Zeke and Pow Wow have to help Nattie while solving the mystery of Green Streak. "Inline skaters and mystery lovers will enjoy this fast-paced, well-plotted mystery" story, commented Jean Westmoore in the Buffalo News.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Buffalo News, April 21, 2004, Jean Westmoore, review of Green Streak: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery, section N, p. 12.
Dallas Morning News, May 7, 2003, Nancy Churnin, "Writing Duo Scores with Mystery Fans."
School Library Journal, December, 2002, Janice C. Hayes, review of Red Card, p. 140.
Apple Computer Web site,http://www.apple.com/ (June 30, 2004), Nancy Eaton, profile of Matthew LaBrot and Daniel J. Hale.
Crescent Blues Web site,http://www.crescentblues.com/ (August, 2003), interview with Matthew LaBrot and Daniel J. Hale.
Kidsreads Web site,http://www.kidsreads.com/ (April 15, 2004), interview with Matthew LaBrot and Daniel J. Hale.
Top Publications Web site,http://www.toppub.com/ (June 30, 2004), biography of Daniel J. Hale and Matthew LaBrot.
Zeke Armstrong Web site,http://www.zekearmstrong.com (June 30, 2004), biography of Daniel J. Hale and Matthew LaBrot.*