Today I'm talking about three of my books - mainly because they are a series and a couple of the characters have their own grown up books now. More about those in another post at some point. But if you really want to know it's Dark Lake and the as yet waiting to be published Christmas Time in London Town.
The Signal Me series is designated Young Adult, but that doesn't mean that grown up's can't read them. I personally love YA fiction - and anyone who says they are too old for YA stuff, yet reads certain wizard or sparkly vampire books, need to think again!
This series goes back years. Draft one was a school English project when I was 14. I still have the original copy, handwritten in fountain pen with the really awful pictures I drew to illustrate it. Over the years it changed it's name from the original Island in the Sun, to The Price You Pay, to a dozen other things, before we finally decided to divide it into three and call them after call signs.
November Charlie: I am in distress
Delta Victor: I am drifting
Echo Foxtrot: SOS has been Cancelled
Looking back at the original version, originally called Jenny, Paul and Lou, with Rama joining later, only Lou and Deefer the dog kept their names. The book was also originally written in the first person, with Lou narrating it. I'd also drawn all the chads and dots and so on for the log book entries. That alas didn't make the final edit.... I did try though.
All the books are avaliable in ebook, paperback and audio format. Links at the end of the blog.
Here are some pics of the original book. Along with my first ever review.
Actually that's not my first review. That was written on the top of a story I wrote when I was 10. It said 'keep to read to your parent's grandchildren.' Actually still have the story. Never read it to them. It was all about a horse who was a circus pony... But that's enough of that. It was a sad story from what I remember.
Following a tsunami and earthquake in which Jim and Staci Kirk’s parents are declared missing, Jim decides to go and search for them himself. Unbeknown to him, Staci and their best friend Lou, run away to join him. It seems so simple on paper, sail from England to the Philippines and find them. But a hurricane named Erika and a shark conspire against them to make this trip one of the most dangerous trips the three teenagers have ever done in their lives. Will they find the Kirk’s or does God have another idea in mind?
Lou heard a siren and turned to look behind them. A flashing light identified the fast approaching boat as police. Four armed officers stood on deck and the loud hailer instructed them to pull over.
"Jim? What are you going to do?"
"Do what they want."
"I have to." Jim began to slow the boat and moved it to rest at the side of the waterway.
The police boat shot past and one of the officers waved his thanks.
Lou released a sigh of relief. "For a moment I thought..."
"We all did," Jim said. He pulled out into the main waterway again and followed in the wake of the police boat.
"Wonder where they’re going?" Staci said.
"Somewhere in a hurry. Maybe they’re late for lunch," Lou said.
"Maybe they’ve had lunch, and they’re off to kill the cook," Jim said grinning.
"There it is," Staci pointed. "It’s slowing down."
Suddenly an almighty explosion fragmented the police boat into a mass of flames and smoke. Shattered timbers and twisted metal flew everywhere.
Shipwrecked on the remote volcanic island of Agrihan, Lou Benson and Jim and Staci Kirk now have to somehow find their way to civilisation. Their mission to find the Kirk’s now abandoned, it is them that need rescuing. Joined by orphan Ailsa Cudby, who has been living with a local village since her parents died, they set off past the volcano, in search of an abandoned air force base. Lou is far from recovered. Will they find help for her in time?
“Jim,” she said seriously. “I want you to promise me something.”
His brow furrowed. “I’m not leaving you here. So don’t even suggest it.”
“Listen to me. If that thing blows, and I mean really blows, I don’t want you to wait for me. Take Staci and Ailsa and run. We both know I can’t keep up on a good day, and me running anywhere for the rest of my life is out of the question. I won’t have you or them die because of me and my stupid leg.”
“Lou…” Exasperation tinged his voice and the scowl she loved so much crossed his face.
But he was Ailsa’s now, whether either of them wanted to admit it or not. Not that he’d ever been hers, other than in her mind.
“Promise!” she said fiercely.
“OK, OK, have it your way.” Jim paused for a moment as he ate. “That’s if they want to leave you. And you know full well that they won’t do that. At least, not willingly.”
“Don’t give them a choice.” She finished what was on her plate. “It might never come to it, but I don’t want anyone dying for me.”
Jim glanced at her. “You realize that Jesus already did that, right? All you have to do is acc—”
Lou shook her head. “Don’t preach at me, Jim. I don’t want or need it. I just need you guys to be safe, and if that means leaving me here, then that’s what you do. I’ll write a disclaimer in the log if it’ll make you feel any better.”
She scowled back. “Yes, really.”
“Something along the lines of I, Lou Benson, being of sound mind, do hereby insist that Jim, Staci, and Ailsa leave me behind to die in the case of a natural disaster…”
“Words to that effect, yeah.” She held out a hand. “Give me the logbook, and I’ll do it now.”
Rescued by the USAF, Lou’s life hangs in the balance as she, Jim and Staci are reunited with their parents. But it’s not easy having been alone for so long, to suddenly find themselves under adult supervision again. And what will happen to Ailsa? Surely God didn’t bring them this far, together, just to separate them all now?
Staci leapt out as soon as the door opened, still screaming and crying. “Mummy! Daddy!” She hugged both her parents tightly.
Jim sat still for a moment longer and then jumped out of the chopper, straight into the arms of his parents. He hugged them tightly, tears filling his eyes and unashamedly running down his face. “I thought you were dead…”
“We thought the same of you two,” Dad said, pulling Staci into the group hug. “Running away was an incredibly stupid and thoughtless thing to do. Why did you do it? Why not let the authorities do their job?”
“I’m sorry.” Jim took a deep breath. “You were missing. No one was doing anything, so I thought I’d find you myself. Then the girls stowed away and…”
“Don’t get mad at Jim or Lou,” Staci interrupted. “I wasn’t going to be left behind.”
“We were worried sick,” Mum told them, her voice wobbling. “When we finally found a working telephone, Nicky told us you were missing—”
His mother took a deep breath. “We’ve been frantic, wondering where you were. Jack kept in contact, told us he’d found you, but…” She paused. “I am so mad at you.”
“Guess we’re grounded,” Jim said quietly.
“For the rest of your lives,” Dad said. “And then some. You of all people should know better, James.”
Jim shifted. “Sorry.”
Dad nodded. “We’ll discuss this later.”
Jim turned and looked for Ailsa. She was standing on the edge of the group, looking awkward. He grabbed her hand and pulled her close. “This is Ailsa. She’s a missionary kid, too,” he said. “She saved our lives several times.”
Mum smiled. “Nice to meet you, Ailsa.”
Staci grinned. “He forgot to mention she’s his girlfriend.”
Jim elbowed her. “Shh.”
Ailsa blushed as she shook their hands. “Jim has told me so much about you.”
Mum smiled. “I’m looking forward to learning about you.”
Jim looked at Nichola. “I’m sorry.”
Nichola hugged them. “I thought I’d never see you again,” she said. She looked past them. “Where’s Lou? Didn’t she come back with you?”
The blonde officer looked at her. “Jack stayed behind with her, Mrs. Benson. He said to tell you he’ll be back on the next chopper.”
Nichola looked at her and then back at Jim. “Why didn’t she come?”
“She’s sick and not thinking straight.” He sucked in a deep breath. “Deefer died a couple of days ago and what with her leg being infected again and all…”
“Her leg?” Nichola frowned. “How did her leg get infected?”
“She got attacked by a shark and…” He broke off as Nichola paled.
Dad wrapped an arm around her to keep her from falling. “Shark?” he asked.
Jim felt sick. How could his dad always make him feel so guilty with so few words? “We went fishing in September. This shark attacked the dingy and sunk it, and she didn’t swim fast enough. I did what I could, but I’m no doctor and we couldn’t call for help as we’d lost the radio and the phone and…”
He broke off. He could feel the anger and disappointment in all the adults and knew it was aimed solely at him. “I’m sorry…”
“September?” Nichola whispered. “But it’s January now. That’s four months…”
“It’s my fault,” Jim said. “The logbook will prove that. If she dies, I’ll never be able to forgive myself and I don’t expect you to forgive me either.”