SAFEKEEPING is the only book I have both written and “illustrated.”
Latest Entries »
There have been a couple of projects in which I’ve attempted to team up with other authors. Once, Ann M. Martin and I dipped our toes into a two-voice novel, but neither of us loved the direction the book was taking and so we agreed to jump ship together. Another time I was part of a group of authors attempting to create a single story. Though some of the book sparkled (I’m sorry to say not my part), the project failed to realize its full potential and was mercifully put out of its misery.
My friends and family help me with every book project, from listening to me blather on about my subject as I go deeper and deeper into the research, to critically reading the manuscript, sometimes repeatedly, as I do revisions. In the case of THE MUSIC OF DOLPHINS, my parents and my aunt were particularly helpful in connecting me with the Florida Coast Guard, who agreed to take me up in a helicopter and fly me over the Florida straits. Unfortunately, because of weather conditions, we were unable to go through with our plans. The other connection my family made for me on that same research trip went a good deal more successfully. I visited a dolphin research center in the Tampa area and spent time with a remarkable male dolphin named Sunset Sam. What I learned from my time with this highly intelligent cetacean unquestionably informed my portrayal of Mila in the book.
When I was young, my little cousin was badly burned in a household accident. I spent weeks with him, reading to him, making up stories for him, keeping him company as he slowly recovered. I can’t help but think that experience contributed to my understanding of the physical and emotional pain endured by Billie Jo and her mother. It also gave me insight into what Billie Jo’s father might have felt.
The inspiration for that scene came directly out of my research. The story of the accident was reported in the Boise City newspaper from the time period on which I was concentrating. I followed the story over several days, searching each column and corner of the micro-film for any mention of the injured woman. Such an accident was not as unusual as you might think. More than a few people have spoken personally, or written to me about a similar accident befalling one of their family members.