Who likes to know a little behind-the-scenes information about a story? I know I do. In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. (You might remember Wayne from his small role in COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS.)
MAYDAY is a story about friendship, fathers and sons, and the importance of finding one's voice.
BACKSTORY FACT 1
My publisher presented two covers for Mayday. We chose the first one. I love them both for different reasons. The green cover is super cool and reminds me of a Carl Hiassen novel. Both were created by the very talented, Maggie Edkins.
From Kirkus, starred review
After surviving a plane crash, Wayne has plenty to cope with.
He’s lost his voice from an injury, his face is badly scarred, his drill-sergeant Grandpa has moved in, he’s lost the flag that draped his uncle’s coffin, the only reason his girlfriend hasn’t dumped him is because she’s sorry for him, and his father is an abusive loser. In sum, the white seventh-grader has to find a way to cope with the sudden disintegration of his world. In the past, he’s been a veritable encyclopedia of random trivia, useful for “sealing up the cracks of awkward silences.” Without a voice, the trivia doesn’t work. Friends could help, but he has none until he discovers Denny, who’s facing his bar mitzvah but suffers from a dreadful stutter—except when he sings—and, surprisingly, Grandpa, who, Wayne discovers, is slowly dying of cancer. Grandpa starts out as a near caricature of a ramrod-stiff career military man but gradually emerges to readers through Wayne’s developing understanding as sensitive and deeply in tune with the boy’s struggles. Wayne’s convincing narration perceptively captures the tribulations of young teens, and even though his problems aren’t commonplace, surprisingly, the resolutions are. Perhaps best of these is Grandpa’s advice: “Before you go taking the bull by the horns, make sure it’s your bull.”
A fine character-driven tale that slowly grows to a crescendo of satisfaction. (Fiction. 10-14)
By Karen Harrington
Middle school is tough for most kids, but seventh-grader Wayne Kovoks is having a particularly bad year. On the way home from his uncle’s funeral, Wayne’s plane crashes. He and his mother are among the survivors, but Wayne walks away from the wreckage with an injured throat and an L-shaped gash running down from his face: L for loser. The severe swelling in the 12-year-old’s neck means no talking. For a kid who copes with social situations by rattling off an encyclopedic number of facts, not having a voice makes life challenging in a whole new way. On top of these major roadblocks, Wayne is navigating relationships with Sandy (his sort-of girlfriend), his dad (divorced), and his grandfather (former drill sergeant and new housemate). Random facts and Wayne’s sense of humor leaven the more serious plot developments, while his forced silence causes him to take a closer look at the people around him. Harrington’s (Sure Signs of Crazy, 2013) latest comes with heft, hope, and scads of trivia.