When I was growing up, I divided my free time between outdoor play (acting out the elaborate storylines in my head) and indoor activities like reading, writing, and playing with my dolls or toy animals (acting out the elaborate storylines in my head). The first house my parents owned had a wild area behind our groomed back yard, a slope full of weeds and wild blueberries, with trees and a creek at the bottom. We sledded down that hill in the winter and climbed down it in the summer. We played on the banks of the creek, climbing copper beeches and willows, peeling the bark off birches until we understood that was bad for the trees. We made countless attempts to cross the creek, which had no bridge. On the triumphant day we finally succeeded, we were disappointed to find that the opposite bank consisted of tarlike, sucking mud that blackened our feet up to the ankles.
That creek was the first body of water I lived near, but our next house was near a lake and a river. Then I moved to Philadelphia where the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers form two silver veins, where the Wissahickon Creek runs through the heart of urban parkland. I have walked along the banks of all of them. Water can be magnetic to those of us who live near it.
In my first novel, The Secret Year, the main character lives on a river. He describes his family’s property as “a few acres of weedy muck,” reminiscent of the land behind my first house. He says, “I had seen the river just about every way you could. Chocolate-colored after floods, green and still in August, boiling during storms, hard-skinned in January.” Standing in the river one night, the girl with whom he has a secret relationship calls the water “liquid ebony.” The river is where they first come together; it is their matchmaker and their secret meeting spot. After her death, he continues to go to the river. And it is at the river where another girl catches his attention, offering him the chance to move on. If he can …
In my book, the river is like a character. In Sarah Ockler’s book Twenty Boy Summer, the ocean serves a similar role. Writer Kate Messner often blogs about Lake Champlain, and how it changes through the cycle of the seasons, e.g. this entry .
Do you live near water? If so, how does it contribute to who you are?
Thanks for guest blogging! It was great having you on the blog! Don’t forget to stay tuned for more author guest blogs throughout March!
Jennifer Hubbard is the author of The Secret Year (in stores now).
5 Things About Jennifer:
1. Most difficult hike I’ve ever done: Gothics (Adirondacks) via the Orebed Brook Trail
2. One foreign country I have visited: Iceland
3. Favorite writing food: dark chocolate
4. A book I wish I’d written: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron
5. What I write besides YA novels: Short stories
Taken from TheTenners.com.