Into the Wind follows a young boy who, while fixing up a sailboat, befriends his elderly neighbor. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
When I was a boy, I had a feisty, independent, widowed and elderly aunt who was an artist and loved sailing. As she aged, she didn’t seem to mellow or retire or relax, but seemed to come even more alive, to throw herself with increasing energy at what she loved, even as that became more difficult. She painted with a trembling, arthritic hand. Some weeks before she died, she managed—in a wheelchair!—to get herself into a small boat and, with the help of someone who held the rudder, sail through some rough weather. That was the germ of Into the Wind.
Was there anything from your own life that you incorporated into Rusty’s and Hazel’s relationship?
Yes. There is a certain amount of my relationship with my aunt in Rusty’s relationship with Hazel. Like Hazel, my aunt was odd and demanding—you might even say cantankerous. We rubbed each other the wrong way. But she took an interest in me, and slowly I took an interest in her and came to appreciate her quirky sense of humor, the challenges she faced and the wisdom she had as an aging woman who mostly got around in a wheelchair. We became unlikely friends.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The main theme was intergeneration friendship. How could that happen between a boy with his life ahead of him and a woman near the end of hers? What might connect them? What might each of them gain from that connection?
Our mortality is another theme, something that children from eight to twelve are beginning to grapple with. By then they may have lost a loved pet or, worse, a relative. How do we think about that? How do we live with our mortality? Maybe Hazel shows Rusty a way. Sadly, life comes to an end, but it can be filled, like Hazel’s, with curiosity, fun, humor, generosity, growth, energy, friendship, love, wonder, and meaning—all of which might be passed from one generation to another. I hope that’s what readers feel and understand when they finish Into the Wind.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I write books for children and adults, and I’m usually working one or the other, or sometimes both. At the moment, I have an adult nonfiction draft on my screen and parts of a children’s story in a folder on the side of my desk. When might they be available? I don’t know, as I haven’t finished them yet. Sometime soon. Fingers crossed. Information about my previous books is available on my website.
Leave a comment