Also See: Brendan Buckley's Universe | Excerpt from Chapter One | Order the Book
Cover Art by Robert Papp
The first time I wrote this book, it was about a biracial boy, Brendan, whose little brother drowns. As his mom slips deeper and deeper into depression, Brendan decides that to
help her, he must find her parents - the white grandparents he has never met but doesn't know why. Not until the very last chapter of that story did Brendan's grandpa, Ed, show up.
A very important writing mentor in my life (if you want to become a writer, find a good mentor!), Carolyn Coman, suggested that perhaps my story didn't end with Ed's arrival but
actually began there!
I started the entire novel over, but this time, Ed would show up early and the story would be about Brendan building a secret friendship with him. No one would drown (for which
I was glad). In fact, there wouldn't even be a little brother. I gave Brendan a babysitter, an older girl named Haley. I wrote the new story. My wonderful agent,
Regina Brooks, sold the book.
By the time I got to the final version, Haley was gone, too. My editor wisely suggested that Brendan needed a friend his own age. So along came Khalfani Jones. And I'm so glad,
because the scenes with him were some of the most fun to write (and who knows, maybe one day he'll have his own book).
The moral of this story behind the story: As Brendan says about asking questions, writing often leads to surprises, and it always leads to asking more questions. Be open to your
story changing completely between when you start and finish. Oh, and know that it could take a long while before you find the right cast of characters to tell the story you're
meant to tell (it took me almost four years), but the end result will be well worth it!
*Read the scene that originally followed Brendan and Khalfani's bladder-measurement experiment.
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