A Tree Born Crooked


James Hart, with a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside, does not want to go home.
Yet when James receives a postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death, he bites the bullet and returns to the rural and stagnant town of Crystal Springs, Florida, a place where dreams are born to die. James is too late for Orville’s funeral, but just in time to become ensnared in the deadly repercussions of his younger brother Rabbit’s life of petty crime.
When Rabbit is double crossed by his cousin in a robbery-turned-murder, James and a local bartender, the unsettling and alluring Marlena Bell, must come up with a plan to save Rabbit’s skin. A whirlwind road trip across the desolate Florida panhandle ensues as James tries to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Alligator Mafia and keep his brother alive. With bullets in the air and the ghosts of heartache, betrayal and unspeakable rage haunting him at every turn, James must decide just how much he is willing to risk to protect his family and find a way home.  

What are people saying about A Tree Born Crooked? Glad you asked...

"Like a double-shot of fine bourbon, A Tree Born Crooked grabs you in the back of the throat and only makes you crave more the more you consume. Steph Post's simmering crime saga is a relentless pulse-pounder of a tale that shows survival and salvation rarely go hand-in-hand."

-Anthony Breznican, Entertainment Weekly senior film writer and author of Brutal Youth

“Into the land of lacquered baby gators and oxycontin stashed behind the fridge--where even a plastic Santa in the lawn has been kicked over and wears a dented-in cheek. Steph Post brings a big heart and a close eye to this gritty story of ill-fated plans to knock off the safe house of a local mob. The result is a breathless chase through trailer parks, bars and motels that sweeps you in as you spiral down. Think of Flannery O'Connor writing season two of True Detective.”

-Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall

"A man reluctantly returning to his small, rural hometown; the legacies of the past impinging on the present; crazy men with guns -- this is compelling Florida grit with echoes of the late great Harry Crews. Steph Post's A Tree Born Crooked is a wonderful debut."

-Leonard Chang, author of Triplines and staff writer for FX’s Justified

“A novel about family dysfunction in the dark areas of America's most financially distressed populations. This is the story of a character fighting to be redeemed by love.”

-Nayomi Munaweera, author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors 

"With A Tree Born Crooked, Steph Post delivers a 12-gauge blast of country noir from the gun-shaped state, a grit-rich tale of blood and citrus sure to have you recalling the rough beauty of Daniel Woodrell's work."

-Taylor Brown, author of In the Season of Blood and Gold

"What is important on this journey, and throughout the novel, is Steph Post’s perfect pitch representation of her characters’ dialogue, desperation, and determination along a stretch of nonstop action."

-Florida Weekly

"In the gamut of Southern authors alone, you’ve got heavy-hitters like Daniel Woodrell and Tom Franklin, and with A Tree Born Crooked, Steph Post is shouldering into the ranks."

-Eric Shonkwiler, author of Above All Men

“With a sure hand, Post consistently brings these moments of longing to light, transcending the Southern grit tropes and achieving a beauty in straight-forward prose often found exclusively in forms such as poetry or prose poetry. It’s a stunning achievement and such a hard-nosed and bold risk.”

 -Revolution John Magazine

"This is the intense back roads of Northern Florida, a land were blood and money run thick and both will get you killed."

-Writer's Bone

"Steph Post’s debut novel is a gritty and gripping North Florida noir that brings the shadiest parts of the Sunshine State to life. The narrative, which puts a distinctly neo-Southern spin on the timeless ideas of family, homecoming and redemption, is loaded with thrilling suspense, evocative language and understated emotion."

-Atticus Review

"In A Tree Born Crooked, Post proves that she can run with the best of them."

-Heavy Feather Review

"Reading Steph Post’s debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked (Pandamoon) is like riding in a beat-up old truck through the backwoods of small-town U.S.A., holding on as every twist and turn comes."

-Blotterature Literary Magazine
Steph Post has created a vivid literary thriller where her characters stride among of the groves, back roads, and bars of north-central Florida like weary Titians, flicking their burning cigarettes into the sand and grit, wiping away whiskey with the backs of their hands.”

-April Bradley, Assistant Editor of Bartleby Snopes

“Steph Post creates a flavor-filled thriller, making the reader fill a tad bit guilty of something themselves.  The setting can be felt and heard, just as the slamming of the screen door on the soon-to-be abandoned trailer that Hart leaves behind echoes in the mind of the reader for pages upon pages. A story filled with suspense, action, lust, and sadness; a must read for anyone wanting to take a thrilling journey throughout the back roads and pages of a novel.”

-The Hollow and the Plow

"And while I hate to make comparisons to other writers, Post’s Tree-Born vibe is very Carson McCullers meets fearless inventiveness of Virginia Woolf, with maybe a Barry Hannah daiquiri air-brushed in."

-Small Press Book Review
"Post writes a deeply nuanced portrait of a place and the people who live there."

-This Blog Will Change Your Life

Want to Read the Full Reviews?

Book Review: A Tree Born Crooked
September 30, 2015 by Julie Smillie on Rhizomatic Ideas by Nonbinary Review

What Are You Reading?
September 13, 2015 by Maureen O'Leary Wanket on The Arrow

A Tree Born Crooked
September 8, 2015 by Sally Bissell on WGCU (radio)
A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post
August 24, 2015 by Sandie Kirkland in Booksie's Blog

A Fine Debut Novel Exposes an American South Often Overlooked
May 28, 2015 by Phil Jason in Florida Weekly

A Tree Born Crooked, by Steph Post
April 20, 2015 by Matt Kimberlin in Necessary Fiction

A Tree Born Crooked: Book Review
February 26, 2015 in Muscat Tales

This Book Will Change Your Life- A Tree Born Crooked
January 13, 2015 by Ben Tanzer in This Blog Will Change Your Life

A Tree Born Crooked, Steph Post
January 8, 2015 by Eric Shonkwiler in The Spark

The Twisted Branches of Florida Noir: A Review of A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post
January 6, 2015 by Scott Russell in Atticus Review

Recommended Reads: A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post
January 4, 2015 by Dylan Hearn in Suffolk Scribblings

Review of Steph Post's A Tree Born Crooked
December 19, 2014 by C.A. LaRue in Small Press Book Review

Blot Lit Review: A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post
December 10, 2014 by Julie Demoff-Larson in Blotterature Literary Magazine

5 Crime Novels That Will Keep You Warm This Winter
November 19, 2014 by Sean Tuohy in Writer's Bone

A Tree Born Crooked, by Steph Post
October 21, 2014 by Sam Slaughter in Heavy Feather Review

The Strong Pull of Home: A Review of Steph Post’s A TREE BORN CROOKED
September 22, 2014  by Sheldon Lee Compton in Revolution John Magazine
September 10, 2014 by Jay Hill in The Hollow and The Plow  

September 7, 2014 by April Bradley


"A Conversation with Steph Post" THE SPARK 9/9/2015

"Episode 82: Author Steph Post" WRITERS BONE (podcast) 7/6/2015

"Florida Noir" THE ISLAND REPORTER 3/9/2015

"Getting Lit: An Aperitif and Round 1with Steph Post" ENTROPY 2/14/2015

"Steph Post" ADVICE TO WRITERS 2/3/2015

"Grit Lit, Starring the Steph Post" THIS PODCAST WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE- EPISODE 101 1/31/2015

"Steph Post, A Tree Born Crooked" BOOKS AND AUTHORS WITH CARY BARBOR (podcast) 1/16/2015

"Indieview with Steph Post, author of A Tree Born Crooked" THE INDIE VIEW 1/4/2015

"Steph Post Discusses the Movies that Influenced A Tree Born Crooked" BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ANTHONY BREZNICAN (Entertainment Weekly Radio) 12/10/2014

"An Interview with Steph Post" READ TO WRITE STORIES 12/4/2014

"Author Spotlight no. 387: Steph Post" MORGEN BAILEY'S WRITING BLOG 11/22/2014

"#twitterviews Tuesday: Steph Post" SAY, BIRD 11/11/2014


"A Tree Born Crooked author Steph Post: Writing Under Fire" READ HER LIKE AN OPEN BOOK 11/2/2014

"Championing the Loser: 13 Questions with Grit Lit Author Steph Post" WRITER'S BONE

"Indie Ink Runs Deep: Steph Post" THE NEXT BIG BOOK BLOG 10/1/2014

"The Nicest Shark You'll Ever Meet: An Interview with Author Steph Post" REVOLUTION JOHN 8/25/2014

"Sixty Seconds with Steph Post" FLASH! FRIDAY 5/21/2014

"Florida Country Noir Author Steph Post Talks About A Tree Born Crooked" THE WOLFCAT CHRONICLES 2/26/2014 

"Crooked Trees and Crazy Families- An Interview with Steph Post" REGINA WEST 2/24/2014

Also featuring A Tree Born Crooked...

Phil's Top Picks 2015
December 4, 2015 on Phil Jason Reviews Books

July Read of the Month
July 8th, 2015 in Southern Literary Review

Independents Day
July 4th, 2015 on Hardboiled Wonderland

Novel Notes: The First 10 Pages
June 8, 2015 by Laura Ellen Scott

Indie Author Excerpts: A Tree Born Crooked
May 22, 2015 on Book Shelfery

Book Notes (playlist for A Tree Born Crooked)
February 19, 2015 on Largehearted Boy

Getting Lit
February 14, 2015 by Sam Slaughter on Entropy

Books to Read in 2015
December 30th, 2014 by Sheryl Monks

Best Books of 2014
December 18, 2014 by Leah Angstman on The Spark: Alternating Current

Top Ten Books of 2014
December 17, 2014 by Sheldon Lee Compton on Bent Country 

How to Write Active Character Descriptions
December 2, 2014 by Michael Noll on Read to Write Stories
Pop Cartography: A Bookish-Gift Giving Guide
December 9, 2014 by Ryan Bradley on Revolution John Magazine

Reader Reviews...

"Post takes a crime novel and infuses it with her own literary touch. And, though it does contain a break-neck plot on par with Pelecanos and Burke, Post's debut is, at its heart, a gut-wrenching inner struggle between a pitch perfect anti-hero and his demons ... his crooked branches." -Matt Coleman

"You will keep asking yourself how such a gritty story can be told in such compelling language – I know I did. The book is set in a Florida you probably don't even know exists, and that's part of the magic. It's foreign and yet familiar, because the story is really about families and self discovery and making your way in the world, something almost anyone can relate to." -Betsy Talbot

"Steph Post's beautifully written novel, A Tree Born Crooked, is a remarkable debut. The characters are flawed to perfection." -Rob Clark

"Combining gripping action, authentic Florida color, and the understated description of the attraction between two natives of the state, the novel is certain to be the first of many successes." -David Hudson

"Crafted, lyrical prose that creates gutty and gentle descriptions of the people and places Steph Post knows so well, the down and damn-near-out folks of today's north Florida wasteland." -John Fairweather

"With a tone and voice that is all her own Steph Post knocks it out of the park with "A Tree Born Crooked." -Sean Tuohy

"For a wonderful ride through the underbelly of the law, don't pass this book up." -Steve Essick

"Fast reading and suspenseful." -Constance Hogan

"Steph Post's mastery of creating mystery and entertaining her readers is artful. She is a writer to watch!" -Naomi Zener

"Love the flow, the cadence and how you spin the story." -Serge Lacerte

"A Tree Born Crooked is a hot, sticky, violent trip through broken-glass Florida, but its also a "family" story--you know, the kind where you have to save your idiot brother from the Alligator Mafia." -Laura Scott

"There is such beauty in her descriptions and the way people act in the novel. It really felt like an authentic environment." -Jennifer Chow

"I know it was a serious book but I had this hysterical little giggle tickling the edges of my mind the whole time. Your descriptions are so very apt and spot on." -Heidi Skinner

"Post's grimy tale has all the bare-bones, bloody knuckle descriptions of other works by Midwestern Gothic authors like Bill and Donald Ray Pollack, but her characters are infused with a sympathetic essence that other writers seem to miss. Post isn't afraid to give her tough-as-nails characters vulnerabilities, and they play as exceedingly well-rounded because of it."-Clayton Smith 


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