* “Instantly compelling.”—School Library Journal, starred review
* “[A] tense, poignant story about the essential nature of friendship and life’s unexpected possibilities.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
One girl sets out on a journey across the treacherous Arizona desert to rescue a young pilot stranded after a plane crash in this gripping story of survival, friendship, and rescue from a bestselling and award-winning author.Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite livestream:… Read More
USD: $16.99 / CAD: $22.99
On Sale: October 12th 2021
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The first story seed for Across the Desert was planted in my mind by a person who flies a paraplane (a motorized parachute) near my house. I’d seen this person flying several times and found myself wondering where they’d come from, where they took off and landed, whether they’d ever crashed (and were they even afraid of crashing?), and how much training they’d needed to fly such a thing. So much of storytelling for me is simply asking a lot of questions and letting my mind wander and follow unusual paths, and the more I thought about this mystery pilot, the more questions popped into my mind. Did they need a license to fly the paraplane? What if a child wanted to fly one alone? Could they?
For me, so many story ideas start with a person doing a thing in a place. This story was no different, and for a while I had this idea: a girl flying a paraplane (which would later become an ultralight trike) in the desert. I could see her—daring, adventurous, and maybe a little reckless (okay, a lot reckless). She was definitely doing it behind her parents’ backs. She was also the complete opposite of me, who is cautious, risk-averse, and absolutely terrified at the thought of flying anything so flimsy around the desert. I once paraglided off a mountain in Vancouver, thinking that might cure my acrophobia, but I’m pretty sure it actually made it worse.
Anyway, that little spark of an idea was all I had for several months until I decided the young pilot should also be filming her adventures as a sort of online livestreamed nature show. This element was inspired by my husband and children, who like to film nature videos of the desert wildlife around our home and post the videos online under the name “The Sonoran Explorers.” I knew this pilot would also be a young desert explorer, and I started seeing so much of my own children in her.
And then one day, nearly a year after the story seed was first planted, I had an epiphany: the story that had been developing in my mind didn’t belong to the pilot.