Friday, June 17, 2011

Inner Truths and Outer Beauties

TAKEN BY STORM was a huge experiment. At Vermont College, I was challenged to write about an LDS girl. Most of my audience there was not LDS. (Most of my audience is still non-LDS.) I made a lot of mistakes in my early drafts but learned so much studying other writers. Today the tour is back at Rachelle Christensen's blog. Rachelle asked me to write a post about what I learned about writing from my inner truth in my research and through Michael and Leesie's journey. I hope you enjoy it. 

My brother, David, is as passionate about photography as I am about writing. When my editor at Razorbill hinted strongly that I try to make a trailer (are you kidding me? was my knee-jerk reaction) to promote TAKEN BY STORM, I was living in Switzerland and needed pictures. Dave and Jen gave up their romantic getaway from the kids time to drive six hours across Washington State to take these beautiful pictures for me. They also let me stay at their house, Jen went with me on my first school visits, and they drove their family from Olympia to Spokane to take pictures and video my visit to Tekoa High School when TAKEN BY STORM launched.

Jen writes, too. She's now Jennifer Shaw Wolf! I like to claim that I'm her mentor because she's such a brilliant storyteller, but all I did was point her in the right direction. I did get her hooked on YA. You'll all thank me next year when her debut YA novel, BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, comes out. It kept me gripping my chair and clutching my heart from page one to the end. And get this. When Walker needed just the right photo for the cover, Jen volunteered Dave, and he took that gorgeous cover photo. Jen's a broadcast major and makes video book trailers, too. She made the trailer for SING ME TO SLEEP, but that's another story.

First up, Gram's house. This is my grandmother's house in Tekoa, WA. When she lived there, she had flower gardens growing all around it like Michael's Gram does in the book. After I killed Michael's parents and all his dive club friends, I decided I didn't want to let him go back to Phoenix and his old high school, friends, and Caroleena. Too easy. Too much support. Not much story sending him back to the arms of Caroleena. (Actually, Caroleena didn't exist until I much later draft.) I made him go live in my home town in my grandmother's tiny sugar cube house and created his Gram.

That placed Michael in my home town, Tekoa, WA. I was living thousands of miles away in London, Ontario, Canada at the time. I'm sure I chose to send Michael home because I couldn't go there. But I could make the journey every day in my imagination. Here's Tekoa! Tomorrow I'll post the pictures Dave took of the farm we grew up on.

Welcome to Tekoa, WA!
The town from a distance. This is the railroad trestle Leesie wanted to drop Troy off of!

Welcome to Tekoa High School!
I went to school here from 7th to 12th grade, and Leesie first laid eyes on Michael in physics class!

This is the back of the school. The swimming pool is just across the road.
The school's front door Michael went through that first day.

Michael walked across this lawn to get to the front door his first day.
Here's the town swimming pool. They built a new fancier one. I imagined the old pool when I wrote the scene where Michael goes free diving and Leesie saves him. That's still one of my favorite scenes.
Loads more pictures to come. Tune in tomorrow to see Leesie's farm.


  1. Ah, thanks Annie! I love the pictures of Tekoa. I wish I could live there in the old farm house.

  2. I just checked out Breaking Beautiful and I'm intrigued! Love the title :)
    Also, everything in Tekoa looks cube-like. Your Gram's house is cute.