Denali Summer: How and Why

In the event that you ever read DENALI SUMMER (or whatever it will end up being called), here's how it came to be:

The summer between my junior and senior years of college I worked as a hotel maid at the Denali Park Hotel--a hotel that was inside the borders of the national park but has since been torn down. I was a beachy Florida girl through and through. I'd never tent camped. Ever. I got a pedicure before my trip and it never once occurred to me that taking the dead, protective skin off my feet was a bad idea pre-hiking. I had zero camping gear. Like, not even the proper water bottle. I thought I was all set because my mom bought me a new pair of hiking boots. Boots I did not break-in.

It was a little insane for me to be going to Denali.

But I went because I was up for anything and, while studying abroad in Spain, I'd met a girl from Spokane who said she was going to work a summer in Alaska, so I said--me too!

It remains one of my best life decisions.

This story first became fictionalized as Me and The Boys in Alaska, a short story that appeared in my grad thesis. Somewhere in the UNCW library it still exists. And somewhere in the depths of my computer files it still did too. I often wondered if it might make for a light and funny YA novel, but I didn't have plans to turn it into one. 

Until I needed a new YA novel for the writer's retreat I attended in February because it required me to have a YA novel, and I didn't want to work on DEVIL SPRINGS. On the shelf went my creepy middle grade and out came my Denali story for inspiration. I wrote a new fifty pages which got me into the retreat, the enthusiasm of the authors who read those pages caused me to keep going.

Is it the story of my summer? No. Except for the scenario with the moose at Horseshoe Lake. That went down. Just like that. Thank God no one was there to video-tape my shoe-less cliff-side scramble.

And that blurry scanned pic? 1999 Faydra goofing around, tucked into a linen shelf. Because... just because.