FEATURE BOOK OF THE WEEK
HIDE AND SEEK
Thirteen-year-old Chase, a geocaching enthusiast, must constantly rely on his wits to solve unexpected problems. This outdoor adventure and boy's coming of age story is set in the remote, rugged mountains of northern Arizona.
Author Guest Post
As a writer, I often feel like a pack rat. Pack rats will grab anything interesting they find to take back to their nests—shiny pieces of metal, bits of string, a scrap of cloth. They never know when they might use it later.
That’s how I write. And writing Hide and Seek was definitely a pack rat kind of experience. It started with geocaching. My older brother first introduced my sons and me to this fun outdoor treasure hunt about ten years ago. My boys were twelve and eight at the time. He told us we were going---geo whatting? Geo cashing? I had no idea what we were about to do. But he had a handheld GPS, and we set off in the car, looking for hidden treasure.
My kids loved it! Complete strangers they would never meet had hidden a secret container somewhere outside in a park near my brother’s house. With the coordinates on his GPS, we could find the general location of their hidden cache. Oh, and we had to bring some trinkets along for exchange. Once we found the container, we could take away any little treasures we found inside, as long as we left behind some of the trinkets we had brought. And people all over the world were doing this! Playing this fun treasure hunting game, either leaving containers, or looking for hidden containers, or both. All you needed was a GPS and access to the geocaching website.
Every time we went on a geocache, I kept thinking, this would make a great story. But besides geocaching, what else would the story be about? I didn’t know yet.
Then my husband, our two boys, and I took a trip during their fall break. Living in Phoenix, we love getting out of the desert and going away to the cool mountains in the northern part of the state. And we took Dexter, our German Shepherd mix, along.
When we were on our trip, we did a couple of geocaches. One afternoon, we went out late. Being city dwellers, we didn’t think to bring flashlights. It took us much longer to find the cache than we expected, and we were losing daylight fast. I realized once the sun went down, we would be in complete and total darkness. We had a tense hike back to our car, but along the way, we saw a herd of elk, so it was worth it that we almost got stranded!
We also saw deer—a buck, a doe, and their little fawn—and at night, inside the cozy cabin we’d rented for the weekend, we could hear coyotes howling in the distance. Dexter had the time of his life! He got to run through the open fields without a leash, ride in the car, hike with us in the woods. The one scare we had was when he stepped on a fishhook one afternoon when we were fishing. Luckily, he wasn’t really hurt.
When we got home from that trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about writing a book that would feature geocaching. I started asking myself, what if. What if the geocacher is a teenage boy who finds a mysterious note? What if he tries to figure out who wrote the note? What if the person who wrote the note really needs help? I had to answer all those questions one by one, and gradually, the story started taking shape.
My favorite part of the book was making my very own dog Dexter a main character. It’s the only time I’ve ever put someone I know well into one of my books without changing a single thing. He was right for the part, and he’s taken his fame quite well.
Once the book was finished, I realized it wasn’t just about geocaching. It was about families, about growing up, about change. It was about being tested and not being sure if you’re up to the challenge.
That often happens with writing. You start off with one idea, and it grows from there.
I had so much fun writing this book, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. There’s no better place to get lost than in between the pages of a book. You don’t even need a GPS to find your way back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was born Katy Arbuckle in the very small town of Lewisburg, Tennessee. I vividly remember sitting in front of the bookshelves in our den and looking at the covers of children's books that belonged to my older brother and sister. I couldn't read yet, but I would stare longingly at the covers and look at the pictures. My heart ached to be able to read the words on those pages.Those books contained amazing stories, if only I could read them.
I was so happy to start first grade because I would finally, finally learn to read! By second grade, library day at school was my favorite day of the week. Every week I would check out a new book to read.
When I was eight, I read Louisa May Alcott's biography and decided that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. From that moment on, I never gave up my dream of being a writer.
In many ways, I had a deliriously happy childhood. My neighborhood was full of kids my age. We spent the whole summer riding bikes, playing kick ball, hide-n-seek, and freeze tag, with anywhere from ten to fifteen kids joining in. It was a kid world where grown-ups left us alone and let us play by ourselves.
But I also had a tragic childhood. My mother suffered from depression and was often in and out of hospitals. My older sister Nan had rheumatoid arthritis and had been in a wheelchair since she was twelve. Two weeks after my tenth birthday, my mother died suddenly. For my birthday that year, I had received the four Borrowers books by Mary Norton. They immediately became my favorite books during that very sad time of my life.
I now live a happy and tranquil life in Mesa, Arizona with my husband Eric and my two teenage sons, Jackson and Ethan. Over the years, I have taught English classes at Arizona State University, Mesa Community College, and Rio Salado Community College. I started writing my first novel in 1992, and much, much later – in 2006! – I got a contract to publish that novel and two other novels that would be in the same series.
Since I was eight, I have dreamed of being a writer. And now I can finally say that I am living my childhood dream. (biography retrieved from author website)