This post is written by Mindy Hardwick, author of Stained Glass Summer.
My young adult novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER is a story about artistic mentoring. Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her photographer father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, mentoring five-year old Sammy, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, Jasmine’s biggest test is learning to call herself an artist by her own terms.
The word “mentor” means a wise and trusted counselor and teacher. The original Mentor is a character in Homer’s poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseuss’ son, Telemachus. Some famous mentor pairs include: Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, Dumbledore and Harry Potter.
I often use the Hero’s Journey to help me structure plot. In the Hero’s Journey, the hero is met at the first doorway by a mentor. When I was writing STAINED GLASS SUMMER, my mentor at that first doorway was children and YA writer, Norma Fox Mazer.
I met Norma at the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp in July 2002. I was one of a handful of adults chosen to attend the camp. I had just completed a first draft of Jasmine’s story. At camp, we met in morning workshop groups. My workshop group was comprised of teens from Detroit, New York City, and Philadelphia. Their stories were raw and told of lives filled with survival.
It was my first time to be workshopped, and I was about to see my dad for the first time in ten years after writing camp was over. Both of those things added up to me breaking down in tears in the middle of the workshop. Norma sat with me while I bawled. After I was done, she said quietly, “I think you should apply for the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I think you’d like it.” I nodded and dabbed my eyes. At that moment, I would have done anything Norma asked. She’d just sat with me while I had a major melt down.
Before camp was over, Norma coached me on my application for the Vermont College MFA program. By November, I’d heard I was accepted for the July 2003 semester.
When I arrived back in Vermont, Norma was the first person who greeted me. I walked into a small house which served as the college’s offices and there was Norma. She reached over and hugged me. “Welcome to Vermont!”
I never had Norma as one of my faculty advisers. But she was there each residency giving me small words of wisdom and advice. During my graduating residency, I stood in the hallway, looking at the schedule. Norma came up behind me and said, “When is your lecture?” I told her and she said, “I have something else at that time period. But I will rearrange. I will be there.”
Norma passed away on October 18, 2009. But, her lesson to me lives on. Norma taught me the importance of mentoring others, and when I wrote STAINED GLASS SUMMER, I always pictured Jasmine’s mentor, Opal, as Norma.
I hope you enjoy STAINED GLASS SUMMER, Happy Reading
Stained Glass Summer at Musa: http://www.musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products_id=120
Author Website: www.mindyhardwick.com
Author Blog: www.mindyhardwick.wordpress.com
Twitter : @mindyhardwick