Sometimes I’m bummed by my Friend Fridays — I host folks I really, really want to meet in real space and time but haven’t yet. That’s how I feel about Bobbie Pyron who I am sure would get me in a heck of a lot of trouble were we to be in the same time zone. Oh, I can’t wait for that! In the meantime, I’ll be content to read her wonderful words, including these about her latest book.
Thanks so much for inviting me to drop in and visit, Kirby! It’s what we Southerners love doing most: visiting with a good friend, talking about this and that. Although I’ve lived in the west (Utah specifically) for twenty-six years, I’m a Southerner through and through. I still say y’all, I still say yes ma’am and no sir, and I always have a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge in the summer.
That’s why it was so much fun for me to set my latest middle-grade novel, Lucky Strike, in the home of my heart. I was born and raised in Florida, mostly in small towns in northwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. I’m quite sure I have salt water instead of blood flowing in my veins; as a child, I wanted very much to be a mermaid when I grew up. I started writing Lucky Strike after I finished writing The Dogs of Winter. I’d spent months, mentally and emotionally, in the cold of Russia in a rather bleak environment and intense story. I was eager to write something lighter, funnier, and warmer! I was also eager to stretch my writing muscles. I wanted to try writing something with a fantasy twist to it.
I’d long been fascinated by people who’d survived a lightning strike and its aftereffects. There are those rare few who experience some bizarre change after being struck: a sudden facility for foreign languages, an almost savant-like talent with a musical instrument where no such talent existed before. And since Florida is, in fact, the lightning strike capitol of the world, I had a very good reason to set Lucky Strike in my home state.
In Lucky Strike, Nate Harlow is infamous in the tiny fishing town of Paradise Beach for being singularly unlucky. He’s never found a four-leaf clover, never won a coin toss, and has never, ever found the prize in the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box. His unluckyness has made him a bit of a pariah among the other kids in Paradise Beach. Nate wants nothing more in life than to be lucky and popular. On Nate’s eleventh birthday, he’s struck by lightning out of the clear blue sky while playing miniature golf with his one and only friend, Genesis Beam (every bit the outcast that he is). Not only does Nate survive the lightning strike, he soon discovers that since the strike he has become very lucky. He wins every game of chance at the Billy Bowlegs carnival, catches a fly ball in the far, far outfield, and picks the winning raffle ticket for a brand new truck for his grandpa. As a result, everybody wants to be Nate’s best friend. Nate discovers, though, that what you wish for may not be what you really need in life: true friends. Oh, and hushpuppies. Writing Lucky Strike allowed me to not only stretch my writing wings, but to celebrate the true magic that exists in the world and the place I still call home. I feel lucky indeed to be able to share this world with readers!
Bobbie Pyron is the author of the teen novel, The Ring (WestSide Books, 2009), the middle grade, award-winning novel A Dogs Way Home (HarperCollins, 2011), the critically acclaimed The Dogs Of Winter (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012), and her latest novel Lucky Strike (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015.). She lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, two dogs and two cats. She still wants to be a mermaid when she grows up.