Award-Winning Author Promotes Message Despite Being Shunned

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When Arthur M. Mills Jr. wrote “The Empty Lot Next Door,” some neighbors and even family quit speaking to him; they didn’t want to acknowledge the local element of his true life story of ghosts, suicide, and bullying, but that didn’t stop his new book from winning awards.

Winner of the 2010 Reader Views’ Literary Book Contest in the Regional South Category, Arthur Mills’ “The Empty Lot Next Door” is the story of a true haunting and the bullying he experienced as a child growing up in Austin, Texas. Now released in a new edition with sixteen additional illustrations, for a total of forty-nine, and also in a Smashwords ebook edition, readers can have an enhanced experience of “The Empty Lot Next Door” (9781450072212, Xlibris, 2010).

Arthur Mills knows firsthand what it is to be bullied and how bullying can lead to suicide. Arthur’s older half-brothers as well as older neighborhood boys continually bullied and tortured his brother, Richard. While Richard did not fight back, he released his frustration by then beating and bullying Mills. Eventually, Richard could no longer deal with being an outcast and being bullied, so he hung himself at the age of twelve. Mills has spent his life mourning his brother, trying to cope with the horrible memories of bullying, and trying to understand how dysfunction resulted in the tragic events of his childhood.

Because bullying has received more media attention in the last couple of years, Mills decided it was time to take his story public to raise awareness about bullying and suicide. While “The Empty Lot Next Door” includes Mills’ own true experience of a haunting by a ghost he knew as “Candle Face” during his childhood, many readers have found the bullying and suicide of Mills’ brother Richard to be the scariest part of the book.

With the success of the book’s first edition, Mills felt encouraged to produce a new edition of “The Empty Lot Next Door” with additional illustrations, as well as make it available as an ebook from Smashwords for only $2.99. Mills hopes the low price will encourage more people to read his story so it will raise awareness about the detrimental effects of bullying and the warning signs of suicide. While the book’s controversy and horror elements have caused people in the Austin neighborhood where it takes place to be displeased, Mills has actively used the book to raise awareness and has spoken to schools and boy and girl scout groups about the negative effects of bullying and the warning signs of suicide. The book’s recent win of the 2010 Reader Views’ Literary Book Contest in the Regional South Category makes Mills hopeful that his message is being heard.

In “The Empty Lot Next Door,” Mills raises questions about why his brother Richard killed himself, and how bullying may have marred his brother’s understanding of reality until he felt the need to end his life. Readers have found the novel, which Mills says is only 20 percent fictionalized, gripping and compelling. While Mills appreciates that readers find the story compelling, he recently told Reader Views, “If my readers become more aware of the signs of suicide and learn to talk about them, then my book will be a success.”

About the Author
When video games were still in their infancy, children of the 1970s and 1980s had to come up with other entertainment options. Arthur chose writing. Many years later, while a US Army soldier stationed in Korea, Arthur wrote The Empty Lot Next Door. Arthur is a Warrant Officer in the US Army and has lived throughout the world. Arthur and his wife, Yonsun, have two children, Arthur and Allen. Today, Arthur speaks to schools and youth organizations on a mission to raise awareness of bullying and suicide among young people.

“The Empty Lot Next Door” (9781450072212, Xlibris, 2010) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.


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