It was a fairly eventful Spring Break. We went down to Rosemary Beach in Florida, and–aside from enjoying the weather and the sand–I also sold a book to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Well, I didn’t really sell it. My agent did. She’s the one who’s good at the actual business part.
My new editor, Jen Hunt, has a really impressive list of books–she did Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, which I loved. And she works with Walter Mosely, who I also love in general. I’m very excited about her. And in 2010 alone, LBYR had 27 books hit the New York Times bestseller list and won multiple awards, including the Printz Award, Caldecott Honor Medal, and a National Book Award Finalist.
Here’s the summary of the book, which is called The Hidden Summer.
At the start of summer vacation in Alabama, 14-year-old Nell gets some terrible news: Her best friend Lydia won’t be allowed to see her anymore. Lydia’s mother has finally had enough of Nell’s mother, never particularly charming under the best of circumstances. For Nell, being cut off from her Lydia means more than the loss of her closest friend. It means the loss of one of the few places she can feel safe. When things get too bad at home, Nell counts on being able to escape to Lydia’s comfortable bedroom, where everything from the carpet to the chairs make you want to touch them.
Nell’s solution: The abandoned golf course behind her apartment complex. Lodema Golf Course & Tennis Club has been closed for years, but Nell has spent plenty of nights gazing at its endless trees and hills, plus—her favorite—an 18-hole course with a putt-putt course attached, “the kind with big fake animals and windmills and mountains.” She comes up with a plan for she and Lydia to run away without their mothers even noticing they’re missing.
So by early summer, the girls have moved into a fiberglass brontosaurus and a two-story rocket ship. Life at Lodema isn’t easy: they face 100-degree weather, coyotes, trespassers, and the constant need for food. Strangest of all, they start noticing odd symbols drawn around the golf course. When they learn the secret to the symbols, they discover they are not the only ones looking for a home on the golf course. The newfound freedom, the joy of discovery, and new friendships start to make Nell wonder if this life could be permanent: could she stay at the golf course forever?
The best thing about getting a contract for the book while at the beach is that the golf course in the book is a blend of a golf course here in Birmingham and The Original Goofy Golf putt-putt course in Panama City. So we all went and played 18 holes of Goofy Golf and got an up-close look at the brontosaurus where Nell lives for the summer. His name is Marvin (in the book. No one seems to have named him in real life.) Here he is: