Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Number 1?

So I just checked the Prizm site, and saw that Silent One wasn't at Number 2 any longer. I gave a little sigh -- it had been nice while it lasted -- and then looked down to see how far I'd gone. Not even on the chart. Oh well. Then I glanced up. And saw that I was, in fact, at Number 1.

Well, that surely must be a mistake, or there's another book out there called Silent One, or something.

So, people may be wondering, how much of this book is true? Well, actually, quite a bit of it.

The boating accident at the beginning of the novel almost happened. I was in fact about five years old and sitting on a blue vinyl cushion in the middle of an aluminum canoe between my parents crossing the mouth of a cove when a motorboat came roaring at us. The driver, as I described, was alone in the boat, and he was looking over his shoulder at a girl on water skies behind him. I understand now that this is illegal -- there must be two people in a boat if someone is water skiing -- one to operate the boat and one to watch the skier. What I described is exactly what happened -- she saw us, screamed, and let go of her rope. I remember hearing my father yell, "Jump!" but there wasn't time.

Fortunately for us, the driver saw the girl fall and cut sharply to the right, avoiding us by about two feet. His wake nearly capsized us, but my parents, unlike Gareth's, were both excellent paddlers, and we stayed upright. The girl was screaming her head off. The driver finally looked around and saw us. The expression on his face as he realized what he'd almost done is something I'll never forget. I don't remember much after that except that my father said a few out of character things and the girl got into the motorboat and they went back to shore very quickly. I've never forgotten the incident, and I doubt any of us will. Probably someday, a woman will come up to me and ask me if I wrote Silent One, and then tell me that she was the girl on water skies. I've never had a great love of motorboats since then, but I've become an avid canoeist myself, and I learned that brushes with death can come most unexpectedly.

The canoe on the cover is mine. It's not the one I was a passenger in that day, but it is virtually identical to it -- a Grumman 17 foot lightweight -- except that is is not dented, nor does it leak. I highly recommend it. I know there are better and fancier canoes out there now, but it's a darn good boat. I bought my canoe from some friends who'd bought it used. It has a sticker from 1967 on it, so it's pushing fifty years old, at least, and it's seen me through some tough spots and still floats. I have to say that if there's anything I'm really good it, it's canoeing. I can almost always put that canoe any place I want the first time I try, and I don't even have to think about it. It just comes naturally. It's good to have at least one thing in life like that.

I took that photo myself last fall when I was thinking about what I wanted on the cover of the book. I submitted a bunch of photos, and the artist, Alessia Brio, picked that one to work with. I'm really pleased with how it came out. (Though for a bit of trivia, the end of the canoe in the photo is actually the stern, so it's technically aiming backwards to the stars. But that's kind of the way my life works most of the time, so it's fitting.)

Anyway, my parents did get divorced a few years after the canoeing incident. But they didn't abandon me -- I lived with my mom, who has never had a drug problem, and I have a very close relationship with my father, too. My father did give my mother an emerald for an engagement ring, but it was stolen along with every other piece of jewelry she owned when her home was broken into a few years ago.

Gareth's school is my school, right down to the placement of the darkroom. It's also the same setting I used for Under the Willow, though I took a few liberties with the ladder going up to the roof for that one. (Yes, there really is a burned out wreck of a car half way down a bank out behind the building.) When I was putting together the book trailer for Silent One, I grabbed my camera and a couple of handy students and asked what, to them, was the essence of the school building. So we walked around and took probably fifty or sixty shots. They had great fun explaining to other kids why I was shooting the inside of the elevator and a corner by the door, and they found me an empty classroom for the desk shots. I took the one of the shades over the windows on my own later, in a room with a bunch of kids who knew me, and they never even asked what I was doing. (Does that mean I have a reputation for oddness? No, they all know I'm a writer. Same thing.)

After that, the book drifts away from my own reality. I did some research into foster care, and I certainly do not mean to imply that Gareth's experience was typical. I know some very fine folks involved in the foster care system in Vermont who do great things for kids. However, I have also heard some sad tales. Still, I have seen amazing strength and courage and beauty in kids that inspired me not to let Gareth become cruel and bitter, but to leave his heart open to love.

I should also add that there are no smelly teachers in my school, nor do teachers attack anyone. Ever.

Making of the book trailer:

Well, it was important to me that all the photos be my own both to avoid copyright issues and because I thought it would be cooler that way. Getting the school shots was easy. The interesting shots of the moon were some I took recently when the moon was really close and extra bright. A friend who didn't have a good view of the moon asked me to take some photos for her, so I did, and got carried away with lenses and filters and experimenting with exposures. Those shots  lent themselves to the science fiction feel I wanted to get.

The hand with the knife was a little trickier. I knew my daughter's boyfriend had a bunch of scary looking hunting knives, so I called her and asked her to ask him to bring a few over the next time they came to the house. Well, it turns out they were on the way to the house and it was too late. So after they arrived, I asked him if he'd bring a cool knife the next time he came, and he reached into his pocket and said, "Oh, like this one?"  I told him that that would do fine and photographed him holding it. (He's actually an EMT, and that knife he always keeps with him for smashing car windows and cutting seat belts in an emergency.)

The blue water is my swimming pool. One shot is early in the morning; the other, with the reflections, is later in the day.

Who is in the hoodie? Well, I'm under a vow of secrecy on that one, demanded before the model allowed me to take any shots or the video.

Here's another link to the trailer in case you want to take another look:

Anyway, thank you all again for making me Number 1.

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