Sunday, June 20, 2010

catalina island & my darlin' clementine

In the summer after 6th grade my family and I took the ferry from Long Beach, California, 26 miles across the channel to Catalina Island. Destination: Girl Scout camp at the beautiful Emerald Bay. We unloaded my sleeping bag then picknicked on oranges and peanut butter sandwiches before I waved them good-bye.

This photo above shows me in my uniform ready for the nightly campfire of driftwood. I loved these sunsets on the beach: scarfing gooey s'mores and belting out folksongs with my new best friends. One of my favorites was "Oh My Darling Clementine!", a strangely sad tune. The verse that got me was Ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine, but alas I was no swimmer so I lost my Clementine. The zinger was the last one: How I missed her! How I missed her, how I missed my Clementine, but I kissed her little sister, I forgot my Clementine. WHAT!? Who was this cad that would kiss his dead girlfriend's sister? And did Clementine really drown? I wanted to know.

So a few years ago when my publisher at the time, Jean Feiwel, suggested I write a novel based on this ballad I was raring to go. I set the story in 1866 in the fictional Nugget, based on the wild mining town of Idaho City which is just up the mountain from my home in Boise. It was a blast pondering the life of 16-year old Clementine and mixing in some mystery and romance. My editor at Holiday House, Leanna Petronella, helped me shape the adventure and we titled it My Darlin' Clementine.
My Darlin' Clementine
A happy postcript: The Idaho Commission for Libraries has selected Clementine as Idaho's book to be featured in the Pavilion of States on the Mall at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. September 25, 2010. I'm thrilled and honored by this recognition. And it all began at Girl Scout camp!

1 comment:

The Gardner said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to read it...and Girl Scouts are still going to Catalina Island for camp in the summers I do believe!