My book, DRIVE, (a story of twins, NASCAR, the Cold War, and competition) is in the design phase so it came back to me recently formatted by a typesetter. At this point my task was to read through in search of typos, misplaced quotation marks, spacing issues, etc. Of course, we writers are always tweaking so I slipped in quite a few requests for other small changes.
I began writing DRIVE in August 2016 at a Highlights workshop with my editor, Carolyn Yoder. Since it’s part of a series, I submitted a query and received a contract within a few months. I submitted it within seven months but should have allowed more time in my contract because writing two viewpoints is so hard! I revised and resubmitted in July and it went through another round of revisions after that. All told – about a year and a half.
My first draft was a mess. Someone died who I decided not to kill after all. Also the twin protagonists weren’t attracted to the same boy and in the final version they are. Polio figures into the final version more than it did previously. The final version feels much more cohesive and I think the twins are more differentiated. Hopefully you still won’t know who to pull for.
After the latest changes have been applied by the typesetter I’ll be rereading again for nitpicky formatting issues. I’m quite certain if I ask for other changes my editor will disown me.
Here is the opening of DRIVE:
Here is the opening of DRIVE:
As terrible as it sounds, I wanted to rip the ribbons right off my twin sister’s drawing. First place in still life and grand prize!
Ida stood beside me in the hallway at Mountain View School. She wasn’t saying much even if she was thrilled—which of course she was. But I knew she felt guilty about me only winning honorable mention in my category. For some reason I’d thought a portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower would help me take first place.
“I’m sorry, Ellie,” whispered Ida.
“It’s okay,” I said. But I had to bite my lip to keep it from trembling.
“Maybe you should’ve submitted that drawing of the red high heels. It was really good.”
“No,” I said. “Because that would have been a still life and I wasn’t about to compete in the same category as you. But of course you beat me anyway.”
In her award winning BLUE, Joyce told the story of her hometown’s compassionate response to a polio epidemic. The characters of this quiet neighborhood took up residence in the hearts of readers so that now Bakers Mountain Stories include AIM, BLUE, COMFORT and the forthcoming DRIVE. When Joyce isn’t writing, researching, or speaking about her books she is usually living the quiet friends-and-family lifestyle exemplified in her stories. She does, however, enjoy travel because the world is actually so much bigger than where she is from!
As some of you know, it has taken me over ten years to get to this point. Although the story takes place sixty years ago, I hope the themes of friendship, racism, and generational legacies will inspire introspection and communication among today's readers.
Here is a snippet from one of the ending chapters. This follows Kate's conversation with her grandmother about their family history:
I ache for my grandmother. For the little girl who was ripped away from her mother and grew up with half-truths fencing her in.
Half-truths like long spindly fingers that reached out from the grave and strangled us all.