Friend Friday

I first met Rodman Philbrick through his moving novel, Freak the Mighty and have been a huge fan ever since. (if you haven’t, be sure to read his historical novel, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg). Rod and I caught up with each other at NCTE in November and I was delighted to learn he had a new book coming out in March and even more delighted when he agreed to participate in Friend Friday.

Rodman Philbrick

Where do authors get their ideas? Surely that question was first posed about nine seconds after the first story teller finished telling the first story. Doubtless that first tale was spun in the dark, and shaped by the light of a fire. 

Every story starts somewhere, for sure, and in my case Zane and The Hurricane began in candlelight, during a hurricane, a very long time ago. Specifically Hurricane Carol, in late August of 1954. One of my earliest memories is of ‘camping out’ under the dining room table in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. My father, as salesman, and could not get home because a fourteen foot storm surge flooded Providence, Rhode Island and he was trapped in his hotel. 

My 27 year old mother, fearing that a huge tree in the yard might come down on the house, gathered up her three little boys and sought refuge under the table. She had a two week old baby in her arms. That was my brand new brother Jonathan. My brother Philip was a toddler. I was three and a half. There is no fear in that blurry, often conjured memory, only the delight of the flickering candle and a sense of what a fine adventure it was, to be playing under a table with my mother and my little brothers. 

I had no idea what a hurricane was, and doubt that Mom even mentioned the word, so as not to frighten us. Many years later, when variously named hurricanes began to batter Florida on an all-too regular basis, I thought it might be interesting to make up a story and honor my mother at the same time by calling it Hurricane Jane. The notion never got further than the rhyming title. 

And then Katrina devastated New Orleans, turning it into what looked on TV like an unnatural Third World disaster, and I knew that had to be the story – it was too big to ignore – and somehow Jane became Zane, a boy from New Hampshire. He has little dog because, well, everything goes better with dogs. Right Kirby? Anyhow, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I’m with you that dogs make a story, Rod! And I can’t wait to read about Zane. Thanks for stopping by today.