Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stan and Jesse are responsible

     “Jesse! Shh! Gar! Under the boat!”
     “Are you sure it’s a gar? I think you just want to use your bow.”
     Hey, I can understand them! Are they talking about me?
     “Don’t spook him.”
     “Stan, I think you’ve had a few too many—Crap! Watch it!”
     The boat shifted, sending ripples into the water.
     “At least aim that thing away from me! Jesus. I’m going to fish the old fashioned way. You might want to take a lesson.”
     Something dropped into the water. There was a worm on a hook, a line, and a lump of gray metal.
     What is that gray thing? I want it!
     He swam out from beneath the boat, and moved forward cautiously. Morphing his fins into fingers, he detached the metal from the line.
     It’s mine!
     He darted back under the boat, leaving the metal lump behind.
     What was that?
     Stan shouted, “Gar! Gar I tell ya!”
     “I think I saw him too,” said Jesse, sounding surprised. “I didn’t know they lived in this part of the river. If that’s what he was, he was pretty big…your arrow might have nicked him.”
     “Gar for sure, and he swam back under the boat. I’ll get him in my sights again and pierce that armor.”
     They are talking about me, aren’t they? I’m the only one down here…
     The arrow made a zigzag path as it was pulled to the surface. The line that had held the metal lump was moving up and out of the water too. 
     “Aww crap,” Jesse said. “Gar got my lead!”
     Lead! You can’t have it. It’s mine!  
     “What? Let me see,” said Stan. “Crap! Here, put this one in.”
     Another line went into the water.
     He watched through a cloud of suspended algae as the line and a new piece of lead sank in front of him. He swam closer.
     “Shhh! Look! Gar—no doubt! Probably five foot!”
     If I take this other piece, then I’ll know if they’re talking about me for sure.
     He changed color, blending with the bottom of the river.
     “Where’d he go?!”
     “I didn’t get a good look,” said Jesse.
     Grasping the river bottom with his hands, he crawled to the second piece of lead and untied it.
     Just then the line jerked.
     “What the—that’s twice!” Jesse shouted.
     The line started moving up.
     He darted beneath the boat.
     Simultaneously, an arrow struck the river bottom where he’d left the piece of lead.
     “Crap! I missed again,” said Stan.
     “Holy—Gar!” said Jesse.
     “Yep, gar!”
     It’s me!
     “You’d better sit down Stan or I’ll be hauling you into the boat.”
     “Yeah, all right.”
     Gar heard a thump. Ripples spread over the water’s surface.
     “Where is he? Under the boat?" Jesse asked. "I don’t see him, do you?”
     “Nope. Gar’s a crafty devil,” said Stan.
     “I’m Gar!” he gurgled.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How it began

       I wrote my first book when I was five — a picture book. I wrote my first novel when I was twelve — a Knights of the Round Table tale, with eleven knights (my lucky soccer number), of whom one was a girl. I spent the next twenty years getting an education and teaching high school science. Being around teenagers all day left me dreaming at night about new worlds with great characters and lots of drama. I needed to write it all down. I started journaling.

       One night, I met Gar (then Sharkboy), a boy who lived in the river and swam like a fish, and he would not leave me alone. Ours was a graceless beginning. In my dreams, Gar emerged from the river on a foggy evening and heard a teenage brother and sister arguing about the swim team finals. How was their public school team ever going to beat the private school team and their paid-for ringers? Enter Gar! Problem solved.

       Luckily, as I started writing about Gar, his story became less Saved by the Bell and more botched alien invasion.