Last summer was the summer of work. For the first time since I became a teacher I worked the summer at the Adirondack Experience (The Museum at Blue Mountain Lake). I did this for one major reason... I had to. I needed to do an internship for my Cultural Heritage Preservation CAS at Syracuse University and my concentration was primarily on Outdoor Education and History. The Adirondack Experience allowed me to work as an interpretive Intern on the Minnow Pond Trail, and gave me the chance to meet and talk to guests every day about not only the museum and trail, but the surrounding Adirondack park. It also meant that I, in the words of my 8 year old, "abandoned us for the whole summer!" She is not entirely wrong. For her whole life we have always gone on a summer vacation, and last summer we didn't, instead we stole tiny adventures on my days off, but it was not the same. So at the end of last summer I asked her if she could pick any vacation, what would it be? I cringed inwardly thinking I was about to agree to a summer at Disney or weeks at the beach (neither of which would have been my preferred trip), but instead she picked the best possible trip I could imagine, and EPIC Summer Road Trip! So we looked at the calendar, looked at the map, made a list of places we didn't want to miss and planning was underway! So stay tuned all summer for updates as the kiddo and I embark on 5 weeks of travel through 18 states and at least 17 National Parks!
kayaking and enjoying the kickoff to summer! We found some great new places to visit, taking a day to explore John Dillon Park and we also stumbled upon Forked Lake and will hitting that up as a future camping spot. It was also our first time to be there for the fireworks and they didn't disappoint! We managed to stumble into some front row seats and got to enjoy some really great fireworks right on the lake. This will definitely become a tradition... now we just need to find a summer house up there that we can afford!
Here's to more sunsets, some good books and a lot more adventures this summer!
What I'm reading now: Code Talker by Chester Nez
Hudson Wheeler is a teen for whom everyone had high expectations, but since his father was killed when he was ten, he's felt unmotivated to pursue much other than his art. During his senior year, he decides to home school, thinking he will get to relax and focus on his two lazy businesses. But instead, he experiences love and rejection for the first time; meets an athletic girl who shows him by example what it means to be a man; and solves the painful mystery of the WWII vet whose poignant plight forces Hudson out of the comfort zone of boyhood.
In Going Places we see the main character Hudson building some very unlikely relationships with both Fritzy and Mr. Pirkle. What was the inspiration for building these relationships for Hudson and what role do you think relationships like these can play in someone’s life?
I love to include cross-generational relationships in my books because nobody lives in a vacuum, especially teens. Young adults have multiple generations involved in their lives if they’re lucky. Often, the relationship with the parent can be fraught with tension during high school, but with a grandparent or someone of a grandparent’s generation, things can be more relaxed. I’m a firm believer the young have much to learn from the wisdom and experience that age brings if they truly take an older person to heart and manage to hear and see them for the young person who once lived inside them. I also believe that young adults have much to offer the elderly, not least of which is their enthusiasm for life, their ability to live in the moment, and their fresh take on events.
As far as Hudson’s relationship with Fritzy, I know we expect to see romance in young adult literature, but my point is that, although teens are raging with hormones, true friendship is more valuable than anything in the world and is the relationship that’s most likely to last through the ages. How many high school romances are still intact ten years after graduation versus how many friendships? In my personal experience, many friendships are still intact decades later, although I do have a son who’s married to his high school sweetheart. I love Fritzy and if I could have brought her to life, I would have chosen her to be one of my best friends at that age.
On a personal note, I was not a fan of Alana and the way she treated Hudson, and spent a fair bit of time getting legitimately angry at her, which really speaks to how well formed her character was. How does the process differ in writing inherently good characters like Hudson and writing a character who makes some pretty poor decisions like Alana? Is one more fun to write then the other?
I love both Alana and Hudson. Of course, Hudson is easy to love because he has such a good heart and he’s a real people person. But Alana is like a bird with a broken wing. She’s been hurt in life and because she feels abandoned by her own mother, she can’t ground herself or see beyond her own pain. She comes off as selfish and she is. But I think her selfishness is just self-preservation. It’s the way she deals with pain. I see Alana having a string of unhappy relationships in her life, but I hope one day she’ll seek out therapy and realize what she’s doing to herself and to others. She’ll come to realize that she needs to love herself before she can love others, and then she’ll be able to mend her broken wing and fly.
So, I suppose I liked writing Alana even more than I liked writing Hudson, because it’s so hard to love her and understand her.
Was there a moment in your career that made you realize that writing was what you wanted to do with your life’s work?
I’ve always wanted to write but I wasn’t always ready to write. I had to prepare myself through living my own life, self-reflection, and reflecting on the lives of others. I also had to read hundreds and hundreds of books, probably thousands. And then one day I realized I was ready to tell my own stories.
Do you have any projects coming up that you’d like to tease to our readers?
In August, my first adult novel comes out (THE KITTY COMMITTEE). It’s what’s categorized as women’s fiction, or sometimes upmarket or book club fiction. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon which describes it in the following way. “The Kitty Committee of Grace’s youth was ostensibly a group of friendship and support. But the friends fell victim to the ringleader’s manipulative personality and recklessness, which set the girls on a course of vigilante justice, culminating in an act that will forever change their lives, an act that becomes their shared secret.” Think THE GIRLS meets PRETTY LITTLE LIARS.
My young adult novel about parallel universes (working title is S.P.I.T.) is nearly complete.
I've had a chance to read both Going Places and one other book by Berla, The House at 758 and I'm really looking forward to checking out Berla's upcoming books. If you haven't had a chance to check out Berla's books, you can pick them up at your favorite bookstore or online.
Thank you for stopping by to answer our questions about Going Places! We can't wait to read more.
Home of the ramblings of an avid reader. In my spare time I also run, ride, teach, go on adventures and get into shenanigans.
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