When a Bookstore Provides a Portal to Adventure and Dreams
Mike Rich | The Children’s Book Review | November 27, 2017
Every so often, I’m asked where I found my inspiration to sit down and write Skavenger’s Hunt (Inkshares, 2017). The answer, as is almost always the case, is somewhat layered and involves a slow turning of the clock. Turning the clock back, of course.
The most immediate inspiration involves the joy of having grandchildren. My wife and I are not only fortunate to have three of them (Jack, Hunter and Harper), but we’re doubly fortunate to have them live within grandfather-reading-books-to-them range. Skavenger’s Hunt is, as you may have guessed, for them—because it’s written as a tribute to the books that were very much for me when I was young. Larger-than-life fantastical tales such as The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Granted, those books aren’t just tales. They’re classics, and they’ve found their way into the hands of countless readers over the past several decades… as they did mine. I grew up in a very small town in the northeastern part of Oregon—a timber and agricultural community of two thousand residents known as Enterprise.
It was also home to a small, independent bookstore that was owned, at the time, by Rich and Judy Wandschneider. It was, and still is, called The Book Loft; and it features a tall and narrow door that serves as an entryway to dreams.
Long, long ago, I’d wander down to the Book Loft after school and get lost in the classics I mentioned earlier. And every so often, I’d dream about one day getting the chance to write a story that felt like one of those. Over the past twenty years, I’ve had the great pleasure and good fortune of writing a handful of screenplays that have found their way to the big screen: scripts that include Finding Forrester, The Rookie, Radio, The Nativity Story, Secretariat and Cars 3.
While I’m immensely proud of each of those films, there was always that creative itch that needed to one day be scratched—an itch that started in that tiny bookstore in my equally tiny hometown. That’s the reason I sat down to write Skavenger’s Hunt. And when I went back home this summer, for the first time in far too long, my heart warmed at the sight of my childhood bookstore… still right there. Even the tall, thin doorway that was a portal to adventure.
The Book Loft is now owned and operated by Mary Swanson, as it has been with exceptional care for nearly thirty years. And when I eased my way through that doorway, featuring the tall tree, and the creatures of the forest leaning against it and reading, I couldn’t help but remember those dreams I had long ago of one day writing a story that might possibly find its way onto one of the tall bookshelves surrounding me once again—forty years later.
Mary and I visited for awhile that August afternoon, and when it came time for me to say goodbye, I noticed she’d been busy typing on her computer keyboard for the past minute or two. Finally, with one last click accompanied by a satisfied smile, she informed me that she’d just placed an order for a small number of copies of Skavenger’s Hunt.
And that’s when I realized that my journey back home had become something more than reconnecting with high school friends, or walking the hallways connecting the classrooms where I learned, or even peeking in the gym where I played basketball when I still could.
It was about one special dream of a young story-seeking reader finally coming true.
Written by Mike Rich
Publisher’s Synopsis: After young Henry Babbitt tragically loses his father, he can’t help but remember the promises of the great adventures they would now never take. Then, on a snowy Christmas Eve, his grandfather reveals that he’s tracked down a series of mysterious century-old clues left by Hunter S. Skavenger, the eccentric magnate who launched the first and greatest scavenger hunt.
Hours later, on Christmas Day, Henry finds himself magically transported back to 1885, where he teams up with a ragtag band of youngsters in a quest to solve Skavenger’s elaborate puzzle. From New York to the Mississippi riverboats to the streets of old Paris, Henry and his new friends face off not only against brilliant competing teams, but also Skavenger’s own dark and elusive nemesis: Hiram Doubt.
Ages 10-16 | Publisher: Inkshares | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1942645801
About the Author
Mike Rich is a screenwriter best known for films like The Rookie, Radio, and Secretariat. His first movie was Finding Forrester, starring Sean Connery, for which he won the Nicholl Fellowship. Rich currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Skavenger’s Hunt is his first book.
The article When a Bookstore Provides a Portal to Adventure was written by Mike Rich, author of Skavenger’s Hunt (Inkshares, 2017). For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with 19th Century Books, Adventure, Christmas, Loss, Middle Grade Books, Scavenger Hunt Books, and Time Travel.