Hey guys!! Blog time no see, eh? I’ve been revising POVERTY ISLAND and actually visiting some of the places I describe in the book, namely the upper peninsula of Michigan! It was fantastic. I officially love it there. Which in the U.P. would sound like, “I officially love it dare.” But, that’s a blog post for another time.
“How are kids affected when a parent goes off to war? Especially if it’s their mom? IF I KNOW IT’S COMING is a powerful story of a young boy trying to get his adolescent feet on the ground when his mother isn’t there to help him and the rest of his family is spinning out of control. When his mother comes back to the U. S. because she’s a war casualty, he heroically sets out to help her. An endearing story of family and hope.”
Mary Logue, DANCING WITH AN ALIEN
You all know I have a special interest in books about the military and war stories, so Nick found my site and I’m glad to share part of his story about becoming published. Here is my interview with Nick Hupton:
Jody: Do you have family in the military? What sparked your idea for this book?
Nick: First, and foremost, I am not a military kid (unless you count the fact that my dad was in the army in the 1960s before I was born). I always try to make that very clear when I speak about this book. I came up with this idea for the novel while I was taking a Master’s Degree class at Hamline University in St. Paul. It was a Young Adult novel class taught by Mary Logue. One of our first activities was to create a new character. That’s when I came up with Tim Hansen, the protagonist in the book. One of his unique characteristics is that he was going through a parent separation of some sort. That is something I am very familiar with. I went through my parents’ separation as an adolescent. However, I was also very interested in writing about the war in Iraq. At that time it was in full swing and very much on my mind. So, I decided to combine those two ideas and I realized that we hear a lot about the situations soldiers face overseas, but not as much about the “wars” going on in the homes of deployed soldiers. I also thought it would be interesting to have Tim’s mother be the one deployed. This gave a feminine twist on the story.
Jody: What was the hardest part about creating this book?
Nick: There were two very difficult things about writing this book (aside from the multitude of difficulties writers are always faced with). The first issue was plot: I felt confident getting into the mind of a 13-year-old. I taught middle school for nine years (I teach high school English now) and I drew a lot from those adventurous experiences. So, I felt good about the emotional aspects of the novel- separation anxiety, day-to-day adolescent issues, etc. But how was I going to create that story arc to keep readers interested in the plot? My two advisors, Mary Logue and Pat Francisco (this was originally written as a Master’s thesis) warned me about those difficulties, so creating that adventure took some time. The second big issue was research. Because I am not a military kid, I wanted to make sure I did this story justice. I spoke to a number of kids whose parents had been deployed and listened to their stories. I also did a lot of reading about the affects of deployment on families. Finally, my wife and I traveled to Walter Reed Medical Center (it was still in operation at the time) to speak to some administrators. That was eye-opening to say the least. So, all of that research took some time and I was constantly going back to revise based on information I found.
Jody: How long did it take you to get it published — from ideation to publication?
Nick: I began writing this novel in 2007 during that YA novel class. It was published in June 2012. So, about 5 years to publish or so. Many revisions took place during that time and many rejection letters came back to me from agents and publishers. Getting published is a daunting task. The day North Star Press, Inc. sent me my contract was a pretty special day.
Jody: Describe your middle school self.
Nick: My middle school self had a little of everything I think. I had quite a few friends, but wasn’t necessarily the most popular. I got good grades and did pretty well at sports, but like Tim Hansen, I wasn’t necessarily spectacular at any of those things. I got into my share of trouble, like most adolescents, but also knew not to go too far most of the time. I would say middle school, for me, was a generally positive experience, which I realize, most adults would not say. And, oh yeah, I went through a bit of a hippie stage in 8th grade. I remember wearing tie-dye shirts and growing my hair out. I was a drummer in a band. Pretty cool…
Jody: Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 90 and fine line 20. Recite. What book?
Nick: P. 90; line 20- “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity.” The book is Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is one of the example stories in the book. This is pretty funny actually. I was rereading some of this when I got your email. I needed to refresh my memory about some writing staples. Tim O’Brien is one of my favorite authors. Coincidence that that page came up.
Jody: If I gave you $100 buck to spend for fun, what would you buy? No books allowed.
Nick: If I had $100 to spend for fun, I would spend it on music in some way. I would either go see a good show or buy some music for my iPod. Music is one of my great passions. It’s a release in so many ways for me.
Jody: Do you have other books planned? If so, please blurb us.
Nick: I am working on a new book as we speak. I expect to have the manuscript into the publisher by early November. It is a much different premise than If I Know It’s Coming. The working title is The Ridge: A Zach Sutton Mystery.
Here is a quick blurb: Zach Sutton’s little brother has been missing for over a year. His parents have divorced. The police have found no clues. But it isn’t until Zach travels to Minnesota’s north woods on a field trip that the mystery really begins. Faced with supernatural visions and ghostly images, Zach finds himself in a scary adventure he couldn’t have dreamed.
Jody: Congratulations on both books! Very exciting. And thanks so much for stopping by Sparks and Butterflies. It was great getting to know you.
Nick: Thank you.