Feature Book of the Week
Bringing the Boys Home by N. A. Nelson

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"I've seen what the world does to the weak. It'll eat you alive."

Tirio was cast out of the Takunami tribe at a very young age because of his disabled foot. But an American woman named Sara adopted him, and his life has only gotten better since. Now, as his thirteenth birthday approaches, things are nearly perfect. So why is he having visions and hearing voices calling him back to the Amazon?

Luka has spent his whole life preparing for his soche seche tente, a sixth-sense test all Takunami boys must endure just before their thirteenth birthday. His family's future depends on whether or not he passes this perilous test. His mother has dedicated herself to making sure that no aspect of his training is overlooked . . . but fate has a way of disturbing even the most carefully laid plans.

Two young boys. An unforgiving jungle. One shared destiny.


Battle of the Books? Cool-io. I love it!

In a traditional sense of Battle of the Bands, let’s assume that Bringing the Boy Home would sound something like this: staccato violin sounds, broken up by huge cymbals clashing, then joined by some deep and dangerous cello sounds, shaken up with maracas “sh-sh-sshushing” in the background, interspersed with some techno piano synthesizer, and  big ol’ booming drums, crescendoing with a horn and ending with birds tweeting. In other words, this: http://www.ninanelsonbooks.com/video.html.

Thank you so much for including BTBH in this battle. Is it to the death or do we all shake hands and say “Good Game” at the end? Probably the latter, eh? Alright. I’m in.

So what can I say about my book. It was my very first—my debut and it poured out of me like water out of an underground spring. I did a lot of research: survival techniques, jungle flora and fauna, endemic Amazonian tribes, but when it came time to actually writing the book, I remember just sitting back and watching a movie play out somewhere in my head and just trying to keep up as I typed the scene down.

It was fun and easy and I was able to finish the novel in nine months. Sure, there were times when I got “stuck”. For example when I got to the point where I had to know how the two boys were related, I remember panicking, “How am I going to do that without it being obvious?” So I went for a walk and 25 yards into my jaunt, the answer came to me. My two dogs were completely confused (not to mention bummed out) when I turned on my heels and headed back home so I could keep writing.

What I’m trying to say is that while writing BTBH, I was on a bit of a “soche seche tente” a lot like Tirio and Luka. And I followed my gut. I didn’t doubt. A scene would come up and I’d type it down. Not once did I think, “this is stupid.” or “Why am I putting this it there?” I just listened and typed.

This “gut feeling” is called intuition and I’ve learned to stand up and PAY ATTENTION when it comes knocking—not just in my writing but in my life. Where does this feeling come from? Well with Tirio, it came from his dad, but for me? I’m not sure. But I do know that it comes from someplace magical and amazing and when you follow it magical and amazing things happen.

So if you feel like you should “Go left” when everyone else goes right, go for it!  If you want to wear purple and pink pants, then wear them...even if everyone else is wearing blue jeans. Like Tirio, if you listen to that sixth sense, that intuition, that gut feeling—you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be in the end.  Happy. Giddy. And feeling like everything is right with the world. 

Look at me. I did. And I’m rockin’ and sockin’ it out in the Battle of the Books. Trust me on this one. 


I was born in London, England to German parents, who were stationed abroad because my father was in the American Air Force. (Wow—that sounds like the beginning of a spy novel, doesn’t it?)  My father, mother, sister and baby-me lived in Martin Manor, an ivy-cloaked, ten bedroom, drafty mansion with only fireplaces to ward off the damp, foggy chill. Although I don’t remember much about that time of my life, I look happy enough in my baby pictures, so let’s move on. 

After leaving England, my life becomes less spy novel, more Little House on the Prairie as my parents bought a thousand acre farm in rural Missouri. We had cows, pigs, sheep (until they got killed by coyotes), chickens, guineas, peacocks, ducks, geese, Shetland ponies (until one reared back and fell on my sister on an electric fence), cats and dogs. I was in heaven: fishing for snapping turtles in the pond with my brother, riding my black and yellow BMX bike, building hay houses in the barn, eating apples off the trees and reading lots and lots of books. And when I got bored, I wrote—mostly poetry—and listened to Elvis Presley records.  

Then came high school—and the realization that living thirty minutes from town wasn’t really conducive to a thriving social life. I graduated from Rolla High School never having been nominated queen, princess or president of anything, but I did gain valuable fast food experience working at Wendy’s. (Everyone should don polyester and answer the call of the drive-thru window at least once in their lifetime.)

When I entered college (University of Missouri-Columbia,) I had no idea what to major in, but remembering how much I loved to write, I decided on English. Two semesters later I changed my mindtoo many rules: “write like this,” “don’t write like this.” It didn’t feel right to write that way—not for me, at least.    

And then in the middle of my “What am I going to do with my life?” dilemma, somebody told me “Figure out what you love to do and then find a way to get paid to do it.” So I mulled and pondered and brooded and then—light bulb moment: recreation.  I’d been a lifeguard since I was sixteen, had just gotten certified to teach water aerobics (before you laugh, I dare you to take one of my classes) and loved to travel. So after spending a summer lifeguarding at Disney World (Disney College Program)  Apply if/when you’re eligible.), a year studying at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, (Honors Exchange Program, good grades=cool opportunities), and a six month internship at a hotel in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (Please be nice to the front desk staff, folks.), I received a BS in travel, tourism and recreation—or as my father calls it: underwater basket weaving.

My first job after college was as an aerobics instructor/personal trainer/sales rep at a health and racquet club in Pensacola, FL. Soon after starting there, I was set up on a blind date (yikes!) with a Marine Corps pilot. We fell in love, got two dogs, moved to New York City and became betrothed. (See the dogs in the background?) 

I immediately enrolled in acting classes (What IS it about NYC that makes everyone think they can act?) and met people so passionate about acting, they shamed me. With my tail between my legs, I bowed out, in awe of the crazed look in other student’s eyes when they talked about movies and how they wished they could have gotten so-n-so’s role. I was jealous. I wanted that crazed look. Acting didn’t give it to me.  What would? I had an idea—writing.  

So I bought a yellow legal pad, sharpened my pencils and signed up for a Gotham Writers workshop. Every week my supportive husband would walk me home from class so we could “discuss” how it went. The poor guy didn’t get a word in edgewise. I ranted, I raved, I raked my hair and gestured madly. I talked too loud, too fast and interrupted myself.  I was right where I wanted to be…with that crazed look in my eye. 

However, it wasn’t until one baby and a move later that I started to write in earnest. With my second pregnancy, I had insomnia. Since sleep was no longer an option, I’d trudge downstairs, prop my laptop on my belly and from about midnight to 4 a.m. I’d write. Nine months later I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It took me an additional three months to complete the manuscript. Yes, finishing my novel was harder than having a child.   

So there you have it, my life: spy novel turned Little House on the Prairie, turned chick lit, turned travelogue, turned…
I don’t know—as with my books, I’m never quite sure of the ending until I write the last word. (Retrieved from author's website http://www.ninanelsonbooks.com/)

I want to thanks Nina for taking time out of her busy schedule writing and agreeing to do a guest post.

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