I never thought I’d write a book like this.
Anyone who’s read the Time Shift Trilogy will tell you that I love writing character dynamics and dialogue, but I also love epic action scenes and explosions in the sky and small heroes facing huge, universe-ending odds. So when my mother suggested that I write a story about Alzheimer’s, my first response was an immediate and emphatic no, thank you. How would that even work? There was no enemy to confront, no mystery to solve, no shocking twist ending.
And how would a book like that be anything but depressing?
Still, the idea stuck in my head, and for over a year I couldn’t let it go. It would be a different kind of challenge than anything I’d written before. But the last thing I wanted to write was something bleak and depressing and hopeless. I didn’t want to live in a story world of meaningless tragedy. So how could I make a story like this truly mine, something I could love? How could I make it feel like something I would write? Those were questions with no answers – or, rather, answers I hadn’t found yet.
In December 2017, Alzheimer’s took my grandfather. He, and my family by extension, had been struggling with it for a few years. It’s why my mother had suggested the story idea in the first place. I’d had a front row seat to what daily life with an Alzheimer’s sufferer was really like, both for the afflicted and the family, so I knew I could bring real-life experience to the story. Still, I resisted it.
As my family gathered for his funeral, I listened to their stories, memories sweet and bitter, and I saw all those long days written on their faces. The early days, when my mother and her sisters began to think that something was wrong. The later days, when my grandfather would walk into a room full of family with the look in his eye that said he didn’t recognize any of us. The thousand days in between, some marked by tears, others by the choice to laugh instead of collapsing under the weight of slow, inevitable sorrow. I heard a hundred more stories from times when I wasn’t there, told in tones of remembered desperation, when they would have done anything possible, and some things impossible, if only to bring back the person my grandfather had been. If only for a day.
That’s when it happened. After I had resisted for more than a year, two ideas occurred to me that changed everything.
The first was a question that became the heart of the story. How could a boy hold onto hope while his hero was falling to an unstoppable disease? The second was a line that became the very first line of the book. “Grandpa didn’t remember me today.”
From that day on, I saw the characters of Archie and Ulysses Reese clearly, and I knew that I had to write their story. THIS LAST ADVENTURE is the most personal story I have ever written, and I cannot wait to share it with you.
I’m thrilled that the story found a home with Lerner and editor Amy Fitzgerald. I’m also hugely thankful to my incredible agent Tricia Skinner for believing in the story and working so hard to bring Archie to you. So we’ll just use the next year and a half to get to know each other, and you better believe I’ll share everything I can about THIS LAST ADVENTURE’s road to publication.
Thanks for believing.