Tom and J.C. are experienced in the woods and on the river; the brothers, too, but Will and Nate are a couple of clowns and not so dependable. Haley, the head cheerleader, is loaded down with her makeup and accessories. Katie just looks at them all and shakes her head.
So what could go wrong?
It all starts with a summer storm and a raging river. Missing canoes. Wild animals. A venomous snake.
And it pretty much doesn’t get any better . . .
Targeted Age Group:: 13 to 21+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’m a huge lover of the outdoors. I really like the idea of trying to paint a picture of the natural beauty of my home state and introduce folks to some of the amazing experiences out there–without electronics. Of course, it helps there are so many potential surprises that can arise when someone is on an outdoor adventure. In this case, Game Changer is about a fun float trip gone horribly wrong. I liken it a bit to Delieverance…for teens.
This book is set in southeast Missouri, which is home to a number of Ozark streams which can be filled to capacity with floaters and paddlers on a hot summer weekend. I picked a more remote one to allow for a remote encounter with nature–and bad guys.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Characters are often loosely modeled on people I’ve met. Some are mere acquaintance, and others are completely products of my imagination. Sometimes it’s the person I was, or the person I would’ve liked to have been when I was that age. Either way, I’m not tell which is which or who is who.
“That’s a game changer,” J.C. jokes from the front of our canoe as thunder rumbles over our heads, echoing along the riverbank. Leave it to my point guard to constantly make basketball references.
“Oh, yeah. We better keep moving!” I holler to the crews of the other two canoes. “It looks like we’re about to get soaked.”
From the front seat of the girls’ canoe, Haley glances over her shoulder. She spins back around and her eyes lock onto mine. “I thought you said it wasn’t gonna rain, Tom.”
I fight off a smirk. “Well, it wasn’t supposed to, but . . . you know, I’m not always right.”
“Just like the weatherman,” J.C. adds. “My dad always says that.”
I picture the weasel-faced, fast-talking guy on Channel 6, in his shiny blue suit and with an overly cheerful voice. “I’m pretty sure I’m more accurate than that guy.”
“Dude, you actually watch the news?” Will says from the back of the canoe he shares with his younger brother, Nate.
Leave it to Will to call me out for being uncool. Not that it bothers me a lot; I’m used to his not-so-subtle jabs by now.
“Not really,” I reply. “It’s just usually on when I’m finishing homework.”
“Homework?” Will laughs and thumps the side of the canoe with the palm of his hand. “Such a nerd.”
“A nerd who’s going to a good college,” I mutter under my breath.
Before he can aggravate me further, J.C. turns around to whisper, “Remind me again why we brought him along?”
Good question. I pull off my hat for a moment, letting the breeze seep through my short, sweaty hair. I dip my paddle back into the water and give it a couple good strokes to open up more distance between us and the brothers.
“You’re right, bro,” I say, once we’re out of earshot. “It never ends well, does it?”
Without even seeing his face, I know J.C.’s grinning as he says, “So again, I have to ask why?”
“You know.” I shake my head and take a quick peek back at the darkening sky. “Because we needed another truck.”
J.C. nods. “Yep, and we end up regretting it almost every time. We really need to find a new friend…with a truck.”
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