Monday, January 4, 2010

Author Jennie Shortridge stops by... (and a Giveaway)

When She FlewReaders, please join me welcoming Jennie Shortridge, author of When She Flew, who's guest blogging here today!

“Mesmerized” by the true story of a war veteran and his twelve-year-old daughter who, after going undetected for years, were discovered living in a densely wooded Portland park, Shortridge—ever the novelist—empathized strongly with those involved, from the father and child to those who found and then became involved in their lives. Soon a character emerged, one that captured the conflicting emotions and responsibilities of those obligated to carry out specific actions, even when it goes against their instincts.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosOne of my favorite parts the writing process is doing research. My latest novel, When She Flew, is based on a true story, which required extensive research. I first heard about the Vietnam vet raising his daughter outdoors in the Oregon woods when I was living in Portland in 2004. The story captivated me as it unfolded in the media. The thoughts and emotions inspired by the situation stayed with me long after the news lined recycling bins. I never forgot the people, their story, or their struggle, and in 2007 I decided to write a fictional story inspired by them.

My research was intense. For a year and a half I poured over news clippings, public records and spent a great deal of time meeting with a police officer involved in the case. This officer did an extraordinary thing, and it was important to understand it in the context of how police function, what protocol is necessary and the unspoken rules of police work.

In addition, I explored the woods where the pair lived and retraced their steps. I imagined their routines, their needs, and their desires. While visiting the camp, I could still see traces of their living space, which gave dimension to all the details told in the press. Being immersed in the green of the woods, smelling the earth and trees, and walking in their footsteps enabled me to write with the kind of veracity I like to read in others’ stories.

I then cast my version of their experience told from the perspectives of such a girl and a female police officer who finagles her way onto the search team. I interviewed female officers to understand what it was like to be a woman on “the force”. My imaginary characters included a minister, a “bad boy” turned disciple, and a couple who was part of a network of people working to help the unrepresented in our society. With each character I needed to learn more from people who were in similar situations. For this the internet proves valuable but nothing is better than face to face discussions with often many people to create rich composites.

The result is, When She Flew, the story of Ray Wiggs, an Iraq war veteran, and his 13-year-old daughter, Lindy. They have lived for five years in the woods, off the radar, trying to survive on the meager pension Ray receives as a disabled veteran. He wants what’s best for Lindy, and would rather raise her in the woods than on the city streets, subjecting her to drugs and violence and crime. When Lindy is spotted by a bird watcher, everything changes as the police search the forest to find her, make sure she is not in danger and to take her out of the woods and do the “right” thing by her.

Second generation police officer Jessica Villareal is a single mom. She’s on the police search team that discovers Ray and Lindy, and she feels a connection to the girl, as she is estranged from her own daughter. Through questioning the “forest people,” she begins to question everything she thought she knew about being a mother, about being a cop, about how we raise children and what safety really means. Her definitions of safety and well-being for Lindy take on a new meaning as she battles her fellow officers, society, and the media to do the right thing for Ray and Lindy, and ultimately, for herself.

I never did meet the real father and daughter and didn’t want to. It was important to be able to create my own characters and tell my perception of the story and why I think it is important to be aware of people in situations like theirs. Part of my research is to know where to look, who to look to and when to stop. I don’t know what happened to the real “forest people” and wanted to protect their privacy. I would like to think they are thriving and in good health, living the kinds of lives that make them happiest, away from the public eye.
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When She Flew is Jennie’s fourth novel. She lives in Seattle, WA, and is working on a new book that is also inspired by true events.
My copy is on its way and while I missed the news bit about the veteran and his daughter, I can't wait to read this fictional account. Good news is that Publishers Weekly, in a pre-publication review, says that in “examining people willing to sidestep the rules in pursuit of a greater good, Shortridge’s fourth novel recalls Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven.”

Many thanks to Jennie (and Joy!) for sending in this guest post at short notice and in spite of an injury!

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GIVEAWAY

The Prize

A copy of this book will go to one lucky reader.

To Enter
  • Read any other fiction based on true events? Let me know.
  • You must include your email address at the end of your comment, so you can be notified should you be chosen as a winner. Use the format abc AT xyz DOT com, to avoid spammers.
For Extra Entries

Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.

Deadline   Midnight CST of Feb 4, 2010.

Eligibility  US only.

Please read the Disclaimer. Good luck!
Disclosure - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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56 comments :

  1. Wow. That sounds a fascinating book, and beautifully researched. I moved to Portland in 2004, so there's another reason I'd love to read it.

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  2. I follow, and I forgot to include my email: sdeeth at msn dot com

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  3. This book sounds great. I'm sure some of the books I've read have been based on true stories, but none come to mind.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

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  4. I'm a follower.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

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  5. I'd love to read this book!

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

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  6. I'm a follower!

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. The book that comes to mind is 19 Minutes by Picoult. Please include me in the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Get your RSS feed through google
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I get your email updates
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

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  10. I haven't read a true story lately. I prefer it. :)

    Happy New Year
    gahome2mom/at/ gmail/dot/com

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  11. I read Titanic and Cleopatra's Daughter. I enjoy historical fiction.

    clenna at aol DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I subscribe to your feed.

    clenna at aol dot com

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  13. I subscribe to your email updates

    clenna at aol dot com

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  14. I'm a follower

    clenna at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm a Facebook fan.

    clenna at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I, too, read 19 Minutes.

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. i'm a subscriber :)

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)Com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've read lots of historical fiction, including several by Philippa Gregory. Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

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  19. I would love to read this. Please enter me. I can't think of any other fiction books I have read that were based on true stories, but I am sure there have been some.

    lag110@mchsi.com

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  20. I subscribe via google reader.

    lag110@mchsi.com

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  21. I follow via google friend connect.

    lag110@mchsi.com

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  22. I follow on twitter: @lag32583 and I tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/7424796029

    lag110@mchsi.com

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  23. I am sure I have read some, but none come to mind right now.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Still Alice was based on a true story, I think.

    wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I subscribe by email.

    wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  26. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum which is based on the last weeks in the life of Sylvia Likens.
    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  27. feed subscriber
    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  28. email subscriber
    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  29. have button
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    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  30. on blogroll
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    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  31. faved A Book Blogger's Diary to your Technorati Favorites
    copperllama
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  32. a fan of A Book Blogger's Diary on Facebook
    Jaime Payne
    copperllama at yahoo dot com

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  33. follow blog
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  34. I'd love to read this!

    Janemaritz at yahoo dot com

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  35. I'm subcribed to your feed.

    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  36. And I follow your blog.

    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

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  37. Oh, I love seeing that Jennie volunteers with 826National! I'm thinking about doing the next Read-a-Thon to benefit them!

    r4 card

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  38. Wow! You intrigued me and made me seek out the original true story that inspired this book and just...Wow! What a great story!

    I'm sure I've read a book or two that were fiction based on true events, but I can't think of anything specific right now. But let's face it, most if not all stories are going to be "inspired by true events".

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

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  39. I subscribe via email

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Subscribe via via reader

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have your button:
    http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have you on my blogroll:
    http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I follow

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  44. I've read some religious historical fiction based on the lives of women in the Bible.

    lauragiveaways AT gmail DOT com
    (email address also available in profile)

    ReplyDelete
  45. I subscribe to your email updates.

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  46. I follow you on Twitter and tweeted:
    http://twitter.com/couponlover16/status/8040409635

    ReplyDelete
  47. 1/22 tweet:
    http://twitter.com/couponlover16/status/8069170176

    ReplyDelete
  48. I have read fiction based off of two events. None come to mind but Titanic is a great example (even though it is a movie, not a book).

    misaacmom at gmail dot com

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  49. 1/27 tweet:
    http://twitter.com/couponlover16/status/8286027599

    ReplyDelete
  50. I haven't read any fiction based on true events. But this book sounds so good to me. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  51. I subscribe via email.

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  52. 1/28 tweet:
    http://twitter.com/couponlover16/status/8326364841

    ReplyDelete