Today I am welcoming to the bog, Linda Benson. Read on to find out more about Linda and her wonderful books!
1. What was your inspiration for "Six Degrees of Lost?" I enjoy reading books told from the viewpoints of alternating characters, and I wanted to see if I could write one. It was a challenge for me, and I think (hope) I succeeded.
2. The story focuses around two characters, Can you describe Olive's situation and how she ended up with her aunt? Olive is a thirteen-year-old girl with no likely place to land. Her father is a wanderer – whereabouts often unknown. Her mother was just arrested for credit card fraud, and sentenced to jail time. Her old brother Pendleton, the one steadying influence in her life, just joined the Army and is off to basic training. This leaves nowhere for Olive to go, except to rainy Washington state, where a kind aunt (who also takes in stray dogs, cats, and other homeless animals) provides a place for her to stay.
3. Can you tell us a little about David's home life and how that influences his actions?
David’s family is fairly well-off. He lives in one of the “big houses” down by the river. Both of his older brothers have joined the military, and this is expected of David, also. More than that, he is expected to apply to the Air Force Academy, and his parents are planning every moment of his school and extra-curricular activities toward that goal. At fourteen, however, David barely knows what he wants to do with his life, and resents the pressure and high expectations placed upon him.
4. Olive finds a yellow lab in the beginning. How does this dog impact the story? The lost yellow lab provides a way for Olive and David to meet. Olive and her aunt take the dog house to house, looking for its owner, and this is how David and Olive originally connect. The dog also provides a theme for the story: on the one hand, he is lost and trying to find his way home, and on the other hand, he keeps breaking free and running loose, and becomes a symbol to David of the freedom he doesn’t have in life.
5. I would guess you have a soft spot for animals. How did you use animals to help tell this story? I do have a huge soft spot for animals – how did you guess? *grin* I love to use animals in stories, because you can tell so much about a person’s character by how they relate to animals. In Six Degrees of Lost, not only is there the lost yellow lab as the story begins, there is also an assortment of stray cats, abandoned puppies, and even ancient horses that all play a large part in the plot.
6. Olive is trying to figure out where she belongs in this story. How does David help her? Well, without giving too much away, David helps her from becoming even more lost. Besides that, they are both keeping secrets from each other, and in unraveling these secrets, they discover much about themselves.
7. How do expectations impact this story, both Olive and David's expectations for their lives and their families' expectations of their lives. Both Olive and David have not had much experience in life other than with the families with which they grew up. Olive has lived a life without much security, moving from one apartment to another and not having the best role models. David’s life has been so secure that he feels trapped and bored with his choices in life, and the expectations he shoulders. As Olive and David’s friendship deepens, they both start to regain some control over their lives, and learn to make some of their own choices.
8. Who are you favorite authors? Oh gosh, I have lots and lots. Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, Katherine Applegate, Patricia McCormick, Will Hobbs, Joseph Monninger, Gary Paulsen, Kathi Appelt, Sharon Creech, Molly Gloss, Sandra Alonzo, Sara Gruen, Laura Hillenbrand, and John Steinbeck. Shall I go on?
9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? I love to be situated by a window so I can look outside. I’ve always lived in the country, so usually I can see trees and nature and birds and the sky, for starters. I can’t imagine it any other way.
10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I’m working on a sequel to The Girl Who Remembered Horses, my post-apocalyptic horse novel which has been very well-received. I have a brand new novel out from Musa Publishing called Walking the Dog. And I hope soon to get back into, and finish, a YA novel in verse, which deals with teen love and pregnancy.
Six Degrees of Lost is available now from Amazon, B&N, and Musa Publishing.