I have a special place in my heart for Bruce Coville’s books. It’s not just that they’re lots of fun—which they are—or that they’re great examples of craft, plotting, and storytelling—which they are. His book Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher saved my life.
This happened a few years ago, when I made one of my overly optimistic cross-country drives from Colorado to Pennsylvania with two kids in tow. Just before Christmas. In horrendous weather.*
After three days of driving and too many hairy moments to recount, we made it to PA late at night, in the middle of a snow storm. We were supposed to spend the night at my sister’s house with her husband and kids because my parents were at the hospital, where my dad had just had surgery. I’ve been to my sister’s house. It’s a large white farmhouse with a red barn only just off the road and, theoretically, it’s not that hard to find. At least, it’s not that hard to find in the daylight. At night, in a snowstorm, in one of the darkest counties in PA, when one’s brain is theoretically addled from WAAAY too many hours on the road, it’s another story. I drove up and down that road without seeing it.
Meanwhile, the snow is getting heavier, my eyelids are dragging, and both kids are awake and pathetic in the back seat.
What does this have to do with Bruce Coville, you ask? Well, it was his story, performed by his audio book company Full Cast Audio, that kept me awake and kept the kids and I sane for much of the cross-country drive and for ALL of that stressful night. We listened to it as we searched for my sister’s house. We listened when I finally gave up and headed to my parent’s house, even though I knew it was empty. We listened to it as we slipped and slid our way down their very long, very snowy driveway and I left it on for the kids while I stomped through snow drifts trying to find an open door and, when there wasn’t one, breaking into the house. We listened to it over the next week every time we drove from one house to another, because this was rural PA, where the minimum driving time between any two locations is 25 minutes. We listened to it when the cousins joined us in the car and we needed entertainment (so that I didn’t go crazy in my stressed-out, overtired state.)
So: it was with great interest that I sat down Saturday morning for Coville’s Keynote address. I came to the conference seeking inspiration and encouragement—and he didn’t disappoint. But more on that in a few days…
*Yes, I know. The weather is BOUND to be horrendous somewhere along a cross-country drive at that time of year. See overly optimistic, above…