Monday, August 13, 2012

The Kindling by Braden Bell

When I read this to my 12-year-old son at night, he hated it when it was time to stop. He declared this as his favorite book in the whole world.
The Kindling also captivated me from the first, with an creepily well-drawn evil presence invading a seemingly normal life for three young teens who attend a gifted middle school. As events progress to where the children realize they have powers, the danger also escalates to life-threatening situations.
I was quite impressed with the way Braden Bell managed to weave in deep core human beliefs, such as self-worth and individual talents, within text that reads as a supernatural action novel. I was glad that my son was gaining subliminal messages about the importance of fighting off negative thoughts and not wallowing in self-pity or feelings of self-degradation. (Actually, that part helped remind me how destructive negative thoughts are, too!)
This book carries readers along on a journey in this world as well as a mysterious other world, which contains the darkest elements in creation as well as the brightest.
I am already anticipating the next book Braden Bell gives as a gift to the world.

This book is quite close to my heart because it takes place in a small, private middle school and features the close relationship between three seventh graders and a rotund, sweater-vest wearing theatre and choir teacher who happens to have a Ph.D. He looks like me--but to be honest, the character is not based on myself. To some extent, though, he's the teacher I would like to be.
If you've visited my blog much at all you know that next to my family and church, teaching, my students, and my school are the other great loves of my life and this book is sort of my love letter to those last three items. I wrote this book at a time when I was at a particularly low ebb in my career. I was deeply discouraged and but for the bad economy, I probably would have left teaching, or at least my school (that would have been a terrible, terrible mistake as the years since have been the happiest of my life).
Feeling the need to pick myself up a bit, I thought a bit about writing an adventure that highlighted some of the things I liked about teaching and that explored my work world in a fun way.
That was all simmering in my mind one very stormy Wednesday night. My son got home from church and told me about a creepy guy in a black cape walking across people's lawns in a heavy storm. Why would such a person be out on such a night? That got my mind thinking and I stayed up late that night writing two climactic battle scenes--one that happened in a choir room, another in a school cafeteria. I saw these scenes clearly, like a movie in my mind, and I couldn't type fast enough to get the words on the page.
Theses two battle scenes were the bookends of the plot and once they were written, I filled in the rest of the story between those two points. And then I revised and revised and revised and revised. And revised.
At any rate, I love the story and the characters. I should add that the characters are not meant to be portraits or portrayals of anyone. The physical appearance of some of the teachers in the story were suggested by colleagues, but they quickly evolved into their own people and are not representations of anyone specifically. Still, I suspect that those lucky enough to be in the Harding Academy community will think they recognize some of the characters.

1 comment:

Braden said...

Thank you, Shirley!

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