I am honored to share the cover reveal for DRIVE, Joyce Hostetter's newest middle grade book that will be released in September by Calkins Creek. In this interview she gives you a glimpse of the backstory behind the latest in the Bakers Mountain Stories as well as the nitty gritty research she did. Take it away, Joyce!
|Photo credit: Wendy Hostetter Davis|
Ida and Ellie Honeycutt are identical twins whose personalities and internal drives are quite different. Ellie likes action and loves going to the local stock car speedway with its thrilling competitions. Ida, who hates the noise, dirt, and danger of racing, prefers quiet evenings at home pursuing her love of art.
Ellie tends to lead and Ida is mostly content to let her do so. They find security in their expected roles but entering high school gives them more separate experiences and forces them to function independently of each other. However nothing can stop them from falling for the same charming boy and finding themselves at increasing odds with each other.
Then a car accident forces them into new roles, affirms their unique identities, and leads them back to their deep loyalties to each other.
Carol: How did you arrive at the concept for DRIVE?
Joyce: After my publisher suggested a prequel to BLUE (which eventually became AIM), I decided to create a series which is now known as the Bakers Mountain Stories. Five books seemed like a satisfactory number of volumes and would give each of the neighborhood youngsters a chance to tell his or her story. (Ann Fay Honeycutt narrates two books, BLUE and COMFORT since she unknowingly kicked off the series!)
Next in line were the twins. Of course I could have given them each their own separate books to narrate but being lumped together was also a twin dilemma I could utilize. Mostly I wanted to explore their individuality in the context of the same story line. So I decided to write DRIVE from both of their voices and let their differing viewpoints create the conflict. My goal was to have the reader pull for both of them even when they were at odds with each other.
Carol: Why did you call the book DRIVE?
I’ve always thought that, if I wrote a sequel to COMFORT, I’d want to share a bit of North Carolina’s NASCAR history. The Hickory Motor Speedway opened in 1952, the year my story takes place, and we’ve had a number of exceptional drivers emerge from our area. Ned Jarrett grew up in the community and ran his first race at our speedway on the night that it opened. Jarrett represented racing so well via his competitive drive, his deep integrity, and his trailblazing career in NASCAR broadcasting. Including him as a character in the story was a real honor for me.
The historical backdrop for DRIVE is The Cold War, The Korean Conflict, and the presidential race between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Ultimately, I see this book as being about competition, the drive to succeed, and what it means to win.
In any competition, we tend to see winners and losers. But one person or party taking first place doesn’t have to mean loss for others. Winning is the result of facing challenges with integrity, admitting our mistakes, and learning more about ourselves and what makes us valuable—no matter what the outcome of the contest. In DRIVE Ida and Ellie discover what makes them each unique and a winner in her own right.
Carol: What challenges did you encounter while writing DRIVE?
Writing from two viewpoints is always more complicated than I imagine it will be. Each character’s story must be fully fleshed out while complementing the other’s. There’s so much to cover— scenes they share, separate scenes, more characters to flesh out, and interior monologue and a story arc for each protagonist. My biggest challenge was getting it all in and making it work together without bogging the story down. Based on editor feedback I did some major rewriting which changed the story a lot. The heart of the story was unchanged but the narrative for reaching resolution was quite different.
Also regarding challenges—I have to say that securing a contract to write a novel before it’s actually fleshed out sounds like a writer’s dream. But this presents its own struggle. Deadlines always arrive more quickly than I like!
Carol: What kind of research did you do?
I read about the twin experience, of course, but conversations with multiple sets of twins were the most helpful in understanding the complicated mix of deep love and intense competition that exists between many of them. I also interviewed local NASCAR legend, Ned Jarrett and spent lots of time at the library reading our local newspaper from 1952 & 1953.
YouTube was great for giving me glimpses of the 1952 presidential election and aspects of the Cold War. I also watched quite a few NASCAR documentaries and attended my first stock car race at Hickory Motor Speedway.
|Hickory Motor Speedway|
Carol: You mentioned five books in Bakers Mountain Stories. So far you have AIM, BLUE, COMFORT and DRIVE. What’s next?
Something that starts with an E, of course. I anticipate the title to be EQUALITY since that was a big theme of the sixties. The youngest Honeycutt child, Jackie (a boy) will turn fourteen in 1960 and will experience some history making moments. I can’t wait to see the storyline evolve as I discover ideas while researching. Just getting started on that now!
Thanks so much Carol for listening and sharing DRIVE with your readers!
And without further ado, take a look at this beautiful cover!
One of the ways we can support our favorite authors is by pre-ordering their books. Guess what? DRIVE is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for pre-order! In 2018 you'll have the opportunity to win the ARC off my blog when I review it--but why wait? Order your copy now!