I’ll be the first to admit that my writing style consists of putting characters on the page and letting them romp, also called writing by the seat of my pants. This method is affectionately known (in writer’s jargon) as being a “pantser.” When I first started writing SIX DEGREES OF LOST, two characters were rolling around in my head, begging for their story to be told. Olive, a girl uprooted from sunny California and sent to live with her aunt in a home full of rescue animals. And David, a boy from a military family whose future appears to be all mapped out.
I decided to give them equal billing, by letting them tell their own stories in alternating chapters. This was also a challenge to me as a writer – to see if I could pull off two different narrators. The story is filled with things I know well: animals, farm life in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest, small towns - as well as things I had to research: jail terms, military requirements, and even an interview with a fire chief.
But what astonished me most while working on this novel is how the relationship between Olive and David developed after they started telling their story. I assumed they would be friends, and would save some animals or have some other adventures together. But instead, these two teenagers from different backgrounds were slowly drawn together, and their friendship deepened into something else - a first romance, a journey, and finally, the strength to speak their own minds. I love surprises, and I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed discovering it.
Here’s a short excerpt:
I think about Olive and how she looked early this morning, throwing the stick for the dog. Now’s my chance to do the right thing – to help find that dog a different home - without a chain. But I choke. “Yeah. It might belong to a friend of my mom’s. Someone named Denise.”
With a sinking feeling for the poor yellow dog’s future, I holler down the stairs for my mom to pick up the phone. I think about the invisible sign Olive was describing at the end of her driveway: Lost Animals Stop Here. I bet that dog will wish he never stopped there at all, if he just ends up back on his chain. I’d like to have a nice dog like that. Maybe someday. I sure won’t keep it on a chain.
But maybe that lab’s future is just written in stone. Maybe it’s his destiny to be chained up, just like it’s my destiny to finish this essay and go to the Air Force Academy. That’s what everybody expects me to do, right? I mean, it’s not like I have a choice.
I open my computer and begin – Why I Am a Good Candidate for Advanced Placement in Math and Science. Blah Blah Blah.
In less than an hour, I turn out a pretty respectable piece of bullshit. I spell check it and print it out. Glancing out the window, I see James and Sherman heading up the driveway on their bikes. Sherman is riding one-handed and wobbly, balancing a 3-man raft on his head and his back. Excellent. Perfect timing. James carries two oars crosswise over the handle bars of his bike. Something is slung across his back, too. It looks like a BB gun.
Linda Benson has written several young adult and middle grade books, including the post-apocalyptic THE GIRL WHO REMEMBERED HORSES, also available from Musa Publishing. Her passion for nature and animals often finds its way into her writing. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a variety of animals – all of them adopted. To find out more:
Visit her website: http://www.lindabenson.net
Her blog: http://www.lindabenson.blogspot.com
Find her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/LindaBensonAuthor
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LinBenson
Purchase Link for SIX DEGREES OF LOST: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products_id=297