Just like the reviews, the questions for Danger Peak have been trickling in slowly over the past few months, and I’ve noticed a theme: There are four or five questions that keep popping up over and over again, so I thought I’d address them here in a special blog so I don’t have to repeat myself. 🙂 Here they are:
Q.: Why are Robert, Chris, and Rinnie 13 years old? Shouldn’t they be 12?
A.: Truth be told, I was originally going to have my characters be 12 years old (the age I was in 1989, the year Danger Peak takes place), but a few things occurred to me. First of all, I thought it would be slightly more realistic for teenagers to be riding motorbikes all over town. Also, I needed these guys to tangle with their technology teacher, and you don’t really get a technology teacher in elementary school—at least not in the ‘80s—so I bumped them into junior high. Finally, I had one of those “happy accidents” when I learned that by aging your main characters a few years in middle-grade/young adult books, you can increase your readership. In other words, 13 and 14 year olds (and up) might not be that interested in reading a book about a bunch of 12 year olds, but they would be if it starred kids their age. And that’s your marketing lesson for today!
Q.: Speaking of the kids’ ages, you mention early in the book that Rinnie is younger than the other two Wild Boars, but if so, how come he attends the same technology class as the other two? Shouldn’t they be in different grades?
A.: Rinnie is actually only a few months younger than Robert and Chris, which may not seem like much as an adult but is a big deal when you’re a kid. I remember picking on/being picked on in grammar school and junior high if I was several months older/younger than someone else. It’s what kids do. This is subtly implied in the book, but maybe I’ll explain it further in Danger Peak 2: Electric Bike-aloo.
Q: Why is the turbocharger so expensive? $300 seems like a lot of money, especially in the 1980s.
A.: You make a fair if petty point about the $300. I went back and forth about how much the turbocharger should cost. At first, it was $100, but I thought, “That’s too cheap.” Then I had Dr. Howard say, “It was worth at least three times that!” so I made it $300. In retrospect, I wasn’t thinking about inflation and how much cheaper things were in the ‘80s, so if I had a chance to write the book again, I would probably make it $200, not $300.
Q.: Is Danger Peak autobiographical?
A.: Well, it’s not The Gospel According to Michael Thomas Perone, but yes, there are elements in it that are autobiographical, as I believe all good fiction is. For example, all the stuff about the “Star Wars” sleepovers is based on my relationship with my late brother. Also, the Dad wanting the younger son to fill the older son’s shoes after he died is based on real life. In fact, the funeral scene is almost verbatim what happened to me that day. The only difference is that I wasn’t 12; I was 8. Dr. Howard is slightly based on a high school music teacher I had who refused to be called “Mister.” He insisted on being called “Doctor,” but make no mistake; if there was a medical emergency in the school halls, you definitely still needed to call 911. Finally, I was inspired by the many misadventures I had riding my bike around town with my two best friends when I was growing up, but as I revealed in an interview earlier this year, I’ve never actually ridden a motorbike before. I have ridden a moped though—once. (This was during one such childhood misadventure.) Does that count?
Q.: Will Danger Peak get a sequel?
A.: This answer was so long, I decided to make it its own blog, so tune in next week for the answer and the exciting conclusion to the first Danger Peak FAQ (same Danger Peak time, same Danger Peak channel. . .In other words, Thursdays on this website).
P.S.: Danger Peak is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: