Clayton had such a marvelous passion for writing. It started early. When Clayton was in the second grade, he and his twin brother, Dylan, along with two other friends, produced an illustrated book called, The Attack of the Beastly Dead Ghouls, a story inspired by reading R. L. Stine’s series. Dylan, along with Clayton and Simon edited it, and Quentin illustrated it. The youthful venture produced a total of $21.00. The boys were so proud.
During Christmas celebrations, Clayton wrote stories as gifts that he would give to family members. Occasionally, he would read his story out loud to the applause of an enthusiastic audience. Family members would ask if he would sign his stories because they said that, one day, he would be a famous author. When Clayton was in middle school, he wrote a poem that so impressed his teacher she wanted to publish it.
Clayton possessed amazing intelligence and grand sensitivity that was embodied in a young body with a very old soul. As one book reviewer observed, "he saw so clearly and felt so deeply" our beauty and ugliness, our enduring longing to belong and be accepted, and the hollow spaces in our souls that cry out to be heard.
Thankfully, we have The Mask. Thankfully we still have his voice. Clayton’s challenge to us is not easy. He asks us to be better than we are.
View a reading of The Mask by the illustrator, Rohan Eason, on Instagram.