Sean Young


A hope that fronts a single-minded fever of purpose

One afternoon in the fall 1988 I watched The Boost and cried. I was thirty-four. A promising career path lay ahead, and but for some failed experiments with drugs—thank God—I never fell slave to narcotics.

Perhaps it was because I’d never fallen hard for anything or anyone, except for long lost loves in the old country. I was pretty lonely in those days; still acting like a foreigner eight years after I emigrated from South Africa. Or, perhaps, in a state of infatuated self-pity, having watched Bladerunner in 1982, I might have still been in love with beautiful Sean Young, or rather, my fantasy relationship with her screen characters in these two movies—not knowing at the time about the terribly unkind way she was treated by Hollywood execs and a certain “leading man”; James Woods.

I cried hoping against hope.

The Boost was and might still be the most depressing thing I have ever seen on the silver screen. It was inspirational in its hopelessness. It wrenched out every minute shrapnel of insecurity in me. What if, I kept asking myself. How vulnerable I am, I kept telling myself.

As I wondered at my naivety
I swept up the feces of the homeless under the freeway.
Why was this woven into a fabric deity?

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this and I wouldn’t have written Never Less if things went the way they did for Lenny, played by James Woods, in The Boost.

Side bar: I met him, James Woods, later. More accurately, I served him and Peter Fonda when I was working as a grave yard shift room service waiter at L’Ermitage Hotel, a “discreet, luxurious getaway ”, and where the stars aligned—or thought they did. I delivered haute cuisine and fine wine to the famous and notorious, the disciplined, and the feral. I became familiar with stardust. James and Peter were working on a screenplay, so they fell into the disciplined hole—as far as I could peek into it. (I’m presently writing fiction about those nights that were cleaved by daylight hours of sleep alternating with a dreamworld of editing on pre-digital film equipment at the AFI–stories still to be assigned to one of my novels…)

Never Less is a story where hope shines.

My middle grade thriller is the flip side of The Boost, that cinematically scarred coin. It’s not about an aimless, vague hope, it’s about sacred hope—not sacred in the religious sense, but hope that fronts a single-minded fever of purpose. It’s about two twelve-year-olds who see through parental obfuscation; they must save their dads.

Over 71,000 people in the U.S. died from fentanyl-involved overdoses in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). And, over the last few years the COVID pandemic has exacerbated those fatalities. It’s a silent pandemic made worse by the evil production of candy laced with fentanyl to lure kids into addiction.

I choose to write thrillers on tough subjects—third-world revolution, ivory smuggling, and poisoned wetlands—and opioid crime research is the most devastating I have embarked on. There are wonderful books and institutions for adults on how to manage opioid addiction, however, there are very few books written for kids on how to manage an addicted parent.

I asked myself what sort of agony a child must endure when seeing a parent become an opioid addict. And so I wrote Never Less in the first person entirely from a middle school point of view because, like me after that brilliantly terrible movie, they are so vulnerable. However, by empowering them—and perhaps even their parents—they discover a sacred hope. And their humble achievements make them believers. For Pablo it’s as close to him as his mother’s name, Sachia Esparanza.

Never Less shows readers how sacred hope can be—no matter what age they are. My own sacred hope is that you share my book with someone you love.


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