Jennifer here, and I’m super happy to have Fleur Bradley on our blog again. Fleur and I met online years ago, and I always enjoy her stories for young readers. (Don’t tell the kids that I read Fleur’s books first before I pass them on!)
What’s Your Daybreak?
Or: My Pandemic Book
By Fleur Bradley
I’m a big Elly Griffiths fan and preorder all her Ruth Galloway series books. In her latest, The Locked Room, she actually weaves current events into her book: the dreaded Covid-19 lockdown. I was impressed by her skill in making this work for her story. I don’t think I’m ready for this much reality in my own fiction writing, if I’m honest.
Something else interesting I notice in book acknowledgements lately: the Covid-19 story. Every writer has one by now—and I’m not talking about weaving the pandemic into our actual books. I’m referring to the book you wrote during the lockdown. All of us writers probably have one; what better time to knock out that manuscript than when you’re stuck at home for months on end, right?
Turns out it’s a lot harder to work, write, even survive during a pandemic. We’re all a bit more aware of that now, especially as we dip our toes (or two feet, for the less afraid) into life back to normal. Being isolated does things to your mental state.
In my case, I was on schedule (deadline, really…) to write my next middle-grade novel. I was doing virtual author visits for my novel Midnight at the Barclay Hotel too at the time, and got a glimpse into my readers’ lives in a way that was up close, yet felt so far away. Kids with little siblings, pets or books on the lap, sitting in busy kitchens or messy bedrooms. It was strange, this closeness that wasn’t.
Daybreak on Raven Island, my latest MG mystery/horror, became my pandemic book. Looking back, I see that I was reflecting on what it means to be alone. Tori, Marvin and Noah, the three main characters of the book, are all alone on some level. Marvin misses his best friend who moved away, Noah is new in town after losing his mom and battles severe anxiety, and Tori misses her brother in ways that make her angry (and get her in trouble). They’re not friends; they just happen to be on the same field trip to Raven Island, the one where they miss the ferry. And end up stuck overnight. Together, but alone in a way.
The story is a haunted one, on an abandoned prison island modeled after Alcatraz. So that lonely, left behind feeling was present throughout. I didn’t see it when I was writing it, but I was giving those pandemic lockdown feelings a place.
And (before you get too bummed out here) I also found the answer: connecting with other people. During the pandemic, I doused the simmering fire of my loneliness with friend Zoom calls, phone calls, and hanging out with the people in my house. Just like my characters in Daybreak on Raven Island, I learned that being honest about how I felt made me feel less alone. Plus, it also turns out that everyone pretty much felt the same way. Just like my kids in the book, I was foolish for feeling like I was the only one.
Daybreak on Raven Island is my pandemic book. But it’s also the book that reminds me, and hopefully shows my kid readers, that you can find your way out of that. My daybreak is people, plain and simple.
BOOK GIVEAWAY! Post a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Daybreak on Raven Island.
How about you? What was your daybreak moment, post-pandemic or otherwise?
About Fleur Bradley:
Fleur Bradley has loved puzzles and (scary) mysteries ever since she first discovered Agatha Christie novels. She’s the author of numerous mysteries for kids, including Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, which was on many award lists, including the Reading the West, Agatha and Anthony Awards, Sasquatch Award, and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, Sunshine State Young Readers Award and the Colorado Book Award.
A reluctant reader herself, Fleur regularly does librarian and educator conference talks on ways to reach reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado with her family and entirely too many rescue animals. Find out more about Fleur at http://www.ftbradley.com and follow her on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.
About Daybreak on Raven Island:
From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.
Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn’t looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.
But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.
Buy links: https://bit.ly/NjzwPI