Would you sacrifice eternal youth for someone you love? Lorton's Crash Froelich has taken "Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie and turned it on its head. His book "Never" was released in December, and is based on a pivotal moment in the classic tale.
"I always had an argument with Barrie, and how Tinkerbell drank the poison that Captain Cook laid out for Peter," said Froelich, who's real name is Steve Smith. "And then Peter asks all the children in the world to help save her and it all turns out ok. I never saw that happening."
In "Never", Peter is turned away when he asks for help, and is left with one choice: sacrifice his immortality and leave Neverland and take Tinkerbell with him. And that's what he does and they move into St. Joseph, Missouri... in 1963.
"The boy used the power of his eternal childhood to save the fairy who loved him. As a result, she ceased to be a fairy and he became that creature he most despised - an aging adult," said Froelich. "For years afterward they roamed the planet as father and daughter."
Tinkerbell ("Tinkie" in the book) is the focus of the novel.
"She didn't want to be anything other than a fairy, but she was forced to be something she didn't want to be," said Froelich, who identifies with his protagonist. "Slowly, though, she comes upon the realization that becoming human or a part of society isn't such a bad thing."
Froelich, like his characters, grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri. He left college in 1972 for the U.S. Army, where he stayed for eight years. After his discharge, he went back to school and received a degree in mathematics and a Master's of Sciences in Applied Mathematics at Missouri Western State University.
The next 25 years were spent as a software engineer for Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and a number of other firms. As Steve Smith, he is currently a systems engineer at DCS Corporation in Alexandria.
Froelich is married, has three grown sons and started writing in 1990. A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, he acquired his nickname "Crash" during childhood.
"It's been a nice trip. I had no idea where I'd be when I started, but I can't complain," he said. "Writing was always in the back of my mind. It was sort of an itch that I couldn't scratch for some time. I had always believed that I had the talent to do it. I just needed to acquire the skills."
You can find "Never" on Amazon.com and Froelich's website.