Today the carnis are blogging about where we love to go in books. Like most readers, I love to go to places I don’t expect. I love to see regular places in new ways and feel transformed. Setting is powerful and I like when it’s used like a character. I try to do this in my own writing. Some of my favorite books have done this so well like THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, and AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman. In CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff, setting is used to help ramp up the tension and take us to WWII Russia. Cheri Lasota take us to the beautiful Azores in ARTEMIS RISING. Who will ever look at a train station the same way after HUGO CABERET by Brain Selznick? These are just a handful of fabulous reads that take me where I love to go in books. How about you?
In WINNEMUCCA, Ginny’s road blood ripens on an enchanted road trip which begins when her feet start asking her questions she doesn’t want to hear and take her to a place she never expected to go to find her answers. She’s walking along Highway 33, a deserted two-lane road in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley:
I covered my ears to drown out their trouble-making questions, but all I heard were my own.
What happened to Bobby and me?
Why was I listening to my feet?
Had I lost my mind?
A dirt devil twisted over a fallow field in the tired sun and spun my thoughts backwards to the second in Tar Canyon when Bobby’s eyes met mine and I knew only death would separate us. My Big, Fat, Lie-of-a-Life churned in my gut like the dirt devil. I doubled over, more alone than ever before, and I tied myself into a knot so tight I could hardly breathe. I’d been wrong about Bobby. Wrong about a lot of things.
When I caught my breath and lifted my head, the sun ricocheted into my eyes. Devil’s Rope twisted around the top of the chain-link fences that secured Avenal State Prison. I had no idea why my feeet marched me there. It didn’t look like the kind of place a practically married, straight-A student would find the answers her feet demanded. But the ripening like to surprise me.
In TRANSFER STUDENT we see our world through the eyes of a boy alien named Rhoe and see Rhoe’s home planet, Retha, through the eyes of Ashley, a Beverly Hills surfer after they swap lives when Rhoe’s science fair experiment goes wrong:
Ashley decides to airboard to save Rhoe’s reputation even though she’ll risk her own life on planet Retha, a parallel planet to Earth with lower gravity and a little less technology:
Yuke lets go of my hand. I walk up to the launch platform with him and the two Astrals in our heat. We all shake hands. The same handshake Yuke taught me before. For fortune. I still feel Yuke’s hand in mine when I catch him whispering to the other riders.
The muscles in my arms tense. I place my board over my head and run off the platform. Yuke launches right after, followed by the other two Astrals. My feet dangle and I gasp, caught in the gentle cradle of a rising wind. I tug at the board to bring it close and whirl around, nowhere near as graceful as the golden-sparkle riders of the first heat. I set my frog-feet down on my board, adjusting the suction as I lean to any side that pulls me hardest. Dizzy, I have a hard time knowing up from down, like when I get munched int the surf.
Don’t think about wipeouts. Pick a direction. Find the sun. Breathe.
I hold onto the board with shaky hands and wobble from side-to-side, losing my balance. Tumbling downward.
Feel the beat of the wind. I close my eyes remembering Yuke’s words. In the darkness, there’s nothing but my sense of the wind. Really feeling it, like Yuke said. But everything happens so fast. It’s not like there’s a lot of time to react. The wind howls, lifting me, breaking left then right. I open my eyes as I skirt around the launch site and hover over the stage where a band is playing. The band I heard just before the kiss. The kiss. Air currents carry me higher and the music fades.
I’m going to die.
Rhoe on Earth on his ride to school:
“And what’s with the natural look?” The woman aims one of her spiky weapons at my head. It scratches. Hair falls in my eyes. I pick a piece of it off the bridge of my nose and turn the golden strand in the light.
Back home when I got confused, I would smile and nod my head. So that’s what I do.
This pod chair is so comfortable that I slumber on the trip in the weapon-weilding woman’s car. It is much to heavy for flight. The only beings I’ve seen that fly in this world are small animals. I miss home.
The woman jabs me awake. “Over my dead body,” she says. Her facial wrinkles deepen as she talks.
I don’t think I should smile and nod again if she expects to die soon.
“Don’t give me the silent treatment. Keep this up and things will get a lot more difficult for you around the house.”
Silent treatment. I don’t want things to be difficult. The pod stops. I assess the red-faced woman’s next move and wonder if this condition afflicts Earthlings often. I must watch for the red face. The red face means they are not pleased.
“Well?” she says.
I smile and nod and stare out the window. Other kids my age escape their pod cars. This must be a gathering place. A place where kids get away from women that bother them.
“Ashley, I don’t have time for this. Go on. Go.” She waves her hands in a get-out-of-the-pod way.
Go. I examine the switches and levers beside me, not sure which one will provide my escape. I poke a button and press another. Click-click. I jump.
“Honestly, Ashley. What’s gotten into you? I have a meeting. Do you really require all my attention this morning? You’re behaving like a toddler. Get out of the car.”
The woman reaches across my mid-section and releases a trigger. The hatch beside me opens and I escape. Another girl climbs out of her hatch too. The girl moves her hand from side to side. The person in her pod car does the same. Some sort of ritual.
I wiggle my hand in the same ritual at the red-faced woman who transported me, but she’s already rolled out of sight. I miss my mom.
“Hello,” I say to the girl. I perform the hand ritual again. Her face glows red.
She looks down and walks fast, faster than anyone I’ve encountered on this planet.
I follow the girl.
Happy Memorial Day weekend!
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