The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 11, 2010
Author Showcase: A place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works.*
Bianca: Runaway Storm is the first book in a gripping adventure series. Can you tell us about it?
Dawne: When Nate’s father reneges on his promise to spend the summer kayaking with his son and his mother reveals her plans to stay in New York permanently, Nate feels let down and trapped.
He plots to sneak away to Vancouver, steal his father’s kayak, and journey through some nearby islands for a few weeks. Nate makes it to the islands and feeling confident in his survival instincts, he paddles off ready for some fun.
Inevitably, not all goes as planned, and with the help of a motley crew he meets along the way, including other runaways and a smart artistic “goth girl” with her own problems, Nate begins to come to terms with his parents’ separation and the awkward transition into adolescence.
Of course, these revelations may not come soon enough to help Nate survive a violent storm, deserted island, or a deadly smuggler in a broken-down boat…
Bianca: What inspired you to write Runaway Storm?
Dawne: I was inspired by a real runaway that I met when I was 15. My brother and I were walking along the beach at Montague Harbor on Galiano Island when we met a boy who was about my age. He told us that his first night on the beach he’d unrolled his sleeping bag too close to the water and the tide had crept up soaking everything he owned. He also told us that as he was camping illegally, so he hid his stuff from the park ranger under the roots of an old oak tree during the day making it pretty hard to dry everything out. When my brother and I started to leave the boy asked us to stay for lunch. “I’ll feed you crab,” he said, donned a mask and jumped into the water. He surfaced moments later with a large Dungeness crab in each hand. There was something about that boy, something lonely and sad I saw through his cheerfulness, he made an impression on me that has never left.
Bianca: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Dawne: Nate, the main character, is a pretty normal boy, he doesn’t have a horrible life, but his problems feel insurmountable to him. How big or small a problem may be, it’s always relative to the person involved. In the story Nate learns that he can run from everyone and everything except himself and that ultimately it is better to face his problems and deal with them head on. Nate has to learn this on his own because his parents don’t face their issues.
Teenage runaways are large in number and the risk to them is huge. Statistically according to the National Runaway Switchboard, every day, between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America. One out of every seven children will run away before the age of 18.
Bianca: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating the “Runaway” series?
Dawne: Sometimes your characters don’t behave the way you want them too. As my characters are teenagers, that’s probably not so surprising.
Bianca: You’ve established a solid career in the “writing world.” Can you tell us about your career path that led to becoming a published author?
Dawne: I have a B. A. in Creative Writing and an M. A. in Professional Writing. I started my career as a poorly paid copywriter for a radio network, but hey, I was getting paid to write. I then became the Creative Director for another network (a little better pay, a much better title.) I’ve written for an advertising agency and have always worked as a freelance writer to some degree. I am also a partner in a small press called Toe The Line which promotes ocean conservation with fun and wacky coloring books and beach bags. (see tidalzone.org)
Bianca: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Dawne: A quirk? I have been known to clean my entire house to avoid writing.
Bianca: Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers improve their writing skills? If so, what are they?
Dawne: Ideas are everywhere you go and in everything you do. Always be on the look out. I lead an annual writing Field trip called Down The Rabbit Hole for SCBWI-LA (the Society of Childrens book Writers and Illustrators). On the field trip I stress experiencing the world from your characters shoes (if he wears any). You need to know how your character would react in every situation. Every writer needs a therapy group (oops, I mean critique group, too.) Your characters do not live in isolation and neither should you. Your group will give you feedback, shore you up through rejections and celebrate successes.
Bianca: What books have most influenced your life?
Dawne: All of them! Seriously, every book I read enriches my writing whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or teen novel. I read horror, adventure, fantasy and romance. When I’m working on a particular story I do immerse myself in that genre; for Runaway Storm I read a lot of adventures like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and Thomas Hobb’s Down River and River Thunder.
Bianca: You have quite a few books that are close to publication. We’d love to hear about them.
Dawne: My picture book, No More Mischief, is about a little boy who wants to be the ‘king’ of something (read ‘best’), but nothing he tries works and to top it off he keeps getting into trouble, that is, until the very end… but I won’t give all the fun away.
Runaway Fire, the sequel to Runaway Storm is actually not quite finished, no, the characters are not cooperating and yes, the pressure is on!
Bianca: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Dawne: I hope you enjoy the adventure in Runaway Storm . I read every review that’s written by readers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and anywhere else on the web, so I would be happy to hear from you. Also, I love to interact with students and am happy to do skype school visits for free if a class reads the book. I can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget, once you’ve read the book, you can enter the contest for your chance to win a kayak at Runawaystorm.com
Links of interest: http://www.deknobbe.com
Add this book to your collection: Runaway Storm