The book and author spotlighted in this Ink Splat is Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Behrens. She provided an awesome writing challenge for us and answered some of our questions about her new book and how she became an author. Submit a response to the challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
The Challenge: Making History
If you could travel to any time or place in history, where would you go—and what would you want to find?
Submit your response by emailing email@example.com and you might be published on our website!
Nell Dare expected to spend her summer vacation hanging out with her friends in New York City. That is, until her botanist mom dragged her all the way to Roanoke Island for a research trip. To make matters worse, her father suddenly and mysteriously leaves town, leaving no explanation or clues as to where he went—or why.
While Nell misses the city—and her dad—a ton, it doesn’t take long for her to become enthralled with the mysteries of Roanoke and its lost colony. And when Nell meets Ambrose—an equally curious historical reenactor—they start exploring for clues as to what really happened to the lost colonists. As Nell and Ambrose’s discoveries of tantalizing evidence mount, mysterious things begin to happen—like artifacts disappearing. And someone—or something—is keeping watch over their quest for answers.
It looks like Nell will get the adventurous summer she was hoping for, and she will discover secrets not only about Roanoke, but about herself.
An Interview with author Rebecca Behrens
What inspired Summer of Lost and Found?
I first learned about the Lost Colony of Roanoke when I read about it in my fifth-grade history textbook. There was just a small picture and a little sidebar of text—not enough information about such a tantalizing history mystery! I never stopped wondering what happened to the missing colonists and also what life was like on Roanoke Island then, in 1587, and now. So eventually I had the idea to write about a contemporary girl who becomes just as fascinated by the story of Roanoke as I am, but who has a chance to start uncovering clues about what really happened.
In the book, Nell has to spend her Summer vacation in Roanoke Island, North Carolina instead of at home in New York City. What drew you to pick Roanoke as the primary setting in your book?
I love the ocean—one of my favorite places to go in the summer is Fire Island, a barrier island off the coast of Long Island in New York. There’s something magical about the salty air, lush plants, and wandering deer. So I was excited about getting to spend my writing time imagining a similar Atlantic island setting. And of course I used this as an excuse to take a trip to check out coastal North Carolina myself! Roanoke Island is probably my ideal spot, because it has both a lot of natural beauty and so much rich history.
I also wanted to give Nell a setting in which she’d be free to explore. During her summer on Roanoke, Nell has a bicycle and unlimited time to investigate her new surroundings. In a lot of ways, this book is about discovery: Nell finds out a lot about Roanoke and its history but also her family, her friends, and herself.
Your first novel, When Audrey Met Alice also weaves in history with a modern-set story. Where does your love of history come from?
I have always been a history fan. As a kid, my teachers and librarians gave me an endless supply of historical fiction that nurtured my interest. My whole family loves history, and my childhood road trips included stops at every plaque and historic site along the way. (Those were long car rides.) Travel and reading showed me that not only is the present world a beautiful, complicated, and fascinating place—the past is, too.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to be a professional writer.
I had wanted to be a writer since I was a reading-obsessed kid, but I first started working as an editor. I enjoy that part of the book-making process—helping others make their words shine—but eventually I wanted to work with words of my own, too! I started writing fiction with the goal of publishing a book in 2009, and it took five years for my first one to be on shelves. I first wrote a manuscript that will stay in my desk drawer forever, and next I wrote When Audrey Met Alice. I revised that book probably seven times—so I always want to remind young writers that it takes lots of revision, reading, and patience to become a professional writer! Don’t feel discouraged if your first—or second, or sixth—drafts aren’t quite the way you want them to be.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about Summer of Lost and Found?
Pets are another thing I love to write about. In When Audrey Met Alice, the Roosevelts had lots of cool White House pets: horses, guinea pigs, a badger, and of course a green garter snake. But as much as I loved Alice’s Emily Spinach, I think the pet character in Summer of Lost and Found—a friendly and curious golden retriever named Sir Walter Raleigh—has been my favorite to write so far. He’s loosely based on my next-door neighbors’ dogs from when I was a kid: Freddy and Maude.
Thanks again to Rebecca Behrens!
You can pre-order her new book, Summer of Lost and Found at Amazon and other retailers.
You can also find out more about what Rebecca is up to at her website, www.rebeccabehrens.com.