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Friday, August 7, 2015

First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day

by Dave Amaditz &
Marcy Collier

Welcome to August’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.

This month we're pleased to highlight debut novelists, Kathryn Holmes and her novel, The Distance Between Lost and Found. When Hallelujah gets lost in the woods while on a camping trip with her church group, she realizes that “being found” relates to so many more things than a simple physical rescue.

1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?

Dave – Although there are so many particular passages to choose from, I chose this because I think it is when Hallelujah begins to realize that the situation she was in prior to getting lost was manageable, especially in comparison to being lost in the Smoky Mountains.

She used to think alone was the answer. Alone would stop the whispers and the taunts. Alone couldn’t get her into any more trouble. Alone meant not getting hurt. Now, she’d give anything to see another human being. To hear someone call her name. She settles for listening to her own voice. “Hello,”

Marcy – In this point in the story, Hallelujah begins to take responsibility for her actions and wants to stand up for herself and her friends.

Hallelujah thinks before she can help it. And just like that, she decides not to be useless anymore. It isn’t only up to Jonah to get them out. Or up to the rescuers to find them. She can do more than just keep from falling behind.

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

Dave - This particular chapter ending comes from early in the novel.

Jonah shows them how to rate their bags so there tucked up in the nearest tree. Then they gather back around the fire. It’s only 830, but in the dark, in the cold, it feels later. With the woods looming on all sides, it’s like the fire is the only thing keeping the trees and the darkness from swallowing them whole.

Marcy - This particular passage struck me when Hallelujah and Rachael are having a heart to heart conversation.

“And I don’t want to be that girl anymore. I don’t”

Rachel squeezes Hallelujah’s arm. “So don’t be,” she says.

With those three words, Hallelujah feels something lifted, a heavy coat shrugged off. So don’t be. Like that’s all there is to it.

But is it that easy? Can she just decide not to be that person anymore—the one she hates? Can she really move on?

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Dave – Jonah is my favorite secondary character because of his strong, steady resolve and his inner sense of self security. The following line gives an example.

“I know too many people who are one thing when they think it matters and another thing the rest of the time. And I don’t want to be like that. So I don’t curse at all. It’s like-what you see is what you get.”

Marcy –  Rachael is my favorite secondary character because of her straightforward, no-bull attitude. Like in this paragraph when she’s talking about Jonah.

“Because he’s upset, and we have to be a team.” Rachel is matter-of-fact. “And because he’s the one who knows how to make a fire and keep our food away from bears.”

4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?

Dave -  Picking my favorite line of description was extremely difficult as there were so many great images to choose from, but I settled on this particular passage because as well as paining a beautiful image it gives us insight into Hallelujah’s personality.

The scenery is enough to distract her. Sunrise over the mountains, all pinks and purples and peaches with white cotton-ball clouds. The clouds are low, so low Hallelujah feels like she could reach up and grab one. Light streams down, split into actual shining rays. The see of trees is a vivid, happy green in the early morning light, a stark contrast to last night’s dark, threatening void. The hills still stretch out in all directions, but now they look bright and new. And for just a moment, Hallelujah feels hope burble up in her chest, fresh and sharp and cold as a mountain spring. Anything could happen today. Great things could happen today. Rescue-improbable as it seemed the last night-could happen today. And she is hit by such a strong sense of everything is going to be okay that she gasps.

Marcy -  This paragraph took me right to the campsite. The imagery and sensory details made me salivating to eat the fish too.

They dig in. Fingers scooping up fish, tongues licking lips. The fish has no seasoning except the smoke from the fire, but it’s warm and it’s solid and it’s delicious. Hallelujah barely stops to breathe before her pile is gone. She gasps. She licks each finger, slowly, savoring. She closes her eyes. Inhales the smell of burnt fish. Relishes the feeling of food in her belly.

Rachel burps. Loudly. It startles Hallelujah’s eyes open. “Nice,” she says.

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Dave - I chose this line because I believe it says so much in so few words.

“All you control is you,” Jonah murmurs.

Marcy – Jonah is explaining to Hallelujah why he doesn’t swear.

“I wouldn’t like it if people yelled ‘Jonah!’ every time they stubbed their toe. But it’s more that—" He turns to look at Hallelujah and Rachel. Walks over. “I know too many people who are one thing when they think it matters and another thing the rest of the time. And I don’t want to be like that. So I don’t curse at all. It’s like—what you see is what you get.”

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