A couple of questions people often ask writers is how long did it take to write the book and where they got the idea for a particular story. Sticks & Stones took 8-10 years to write, but most of that time was simply learning how to write a novel. The idea came gradually but there were a couple of sparks that ignited it.
Since I’d grown up at a camp, I thought I’d like to make that the setting for my story. And as I recalled the people who made up the permanent staff, I realized many were characters in themselves. I’d planned to write for an adult audience, something along the lines of Jan Karon’s Mitford Series. But stories need a reason to take place in a certain setting, and I realized a story set at a youth camp needs to involve kids.
In the midst of raising my own children, I caught a glimpse of all the difficult issues kids deal with these days. Drugs, violence, pressure to engage in sex, divorce and broken families. I wondered if I could write a series where kids come to camp and have to deal with all the issues they face at home. But what did I (Miss Goody Two Shoes) know about any of that?
Two of my kids had friends (from different families) whose mothers told them they weren’t wanted anymore. About the same time, I volunteered to lead a support group for jr. high girls who were dealing with deep emotional pain. Every one of these girls had experienced their parents’ divorce, and every one of them felt rejected by one or both parents. It wasn’t necessarily what the parents intended, but it’s how the teens interpreted the parents’ words or actions.
So that became my story idea. What happens when a boy feels rejected by his mom, the one constant in his life since Dad left six years earlier? What if she dropped him off for a week of summer camp and told him he can’t come home because she doesn’t want him to live with her anymore? What would make a mom do such a thing? How would the boy survive?
I hope you’ll read Sticks & Stones to find out!
(The book has not yet found a publisher but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as it’s accepted. Stay tuned!)