Last July, I rode on a Mackinac “cab” for six hours, getting the full story on what it’s like to be a taxi driver on Mackinac Island. It was a great adventure, and I blogged about it for two days: https://bree1972.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-mackinac-island-taxi-driver-part-i-7209/ and https://bree1972.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-mackinac-island-taxi-driver-part-ii-7309/.
Early that morning, we (Jeanine, the taxi driver, and I) took a call for the Dufina Cottage out in the Annex. I was riding right behind Jeanine, talking a blue streak the entire trip, so I certainly didn’t pay any attention to where we were going until we pulled into the driveway of a beautiful old home, in what appeared to be secluded woods. An entire family came out (brothers, sisters, their families, and one cute-as-a- button dog) and climbed on the taxi, after loading piles and piles of luggage under the tarp at the rear of the carriage. One couple rode their bikes alongside the taxi back into town to the ferry dock.
Again, I was talking a blue streak the entire trip, telling this great family that I was writing a blog and asking their permission to take photos and tell a little bit about them – and they graciously agreed. When we got to the ferry dock, everyone got off, and one lady – Sue – asked for my blog address and told me she taught writing and was a columnist for a newspaper. Well, that scared me to death – I could just see her reading the blog and sending me back an email with corrections in red letters! Sue just laughed when I said basically those exact words to her. “Oh no, I teach writing from your heart”, she said. I remember heaving a big sigh and saying, “Oh! That’s what I try to do – write from my heart!”
Over the winter Sue and I corresponded several times, and a few weeks ago I heard from her that the family would be on the island again this week. Sue invited me to come out to the cottage and talk to her granddaughter, Devon, who has just published her first book. Talk about a talented family! We made it a date, and on Thursday I rode my bike out to the Dufina’s (I had passed the cottage earlier this spring and recognized it as where the taxi had gone last July).
Again, the family had gathered. They told me they had rented this same cottage for 11 years. Different family members arrive during the three weeks they have it rented, and today Sue and her husband Tom, their daughter Kathleen and her husband Greg, and Kathleen and Greg ‘s two children, Devon and Andrew – and their friends Ellery and Ryan – were there.
Kathleen had sent me an advance copy of Devon’s book, Get Over It, a couple of weeks ago, and I enjoyed it immensely. Devon is 15 years old, and the story is written for her age group, but I found her characters to be well defined, her descriptions of locations colorful, and the narration between the characters fun when they needed to be and well thought out and serious when that was the mood of the scene.
It was so much fun seeing this family again. We all sat down at the big dining room table for me to “interview” the author. As usual, I had no planned questions – just “winged” it and tried talking to Devon like she was my own daughter.
The book is about a teenage girl (Maddi) who, with her family, visits the same cottage on Mackinac Island each year. She always brings her best friend Bridget with her, but just before the trip this year her friend is killed in an automobile accident. Upset and not knowing how she will ever get through the visit to the island without Bridget, Maddi decides to bring along another friend, Holly. Over their two week vacation, Holly and new boy friend Ben help Maddi to understand it’s ok to have fun again.
The book is full Mackinac Island details and locations. I could easily follow Maddi, Holly and Ben around the island through her descriptions of the places they visited. Devon told me she used a map of the island to make sure she correctly identified the streets and business names.
Devon has been writing practically since she could form letters. She began with little stories that her mother and grandmother would sometimes find stuck in books. Devon is an avid reader also, bringing 4-5 books along with her on this trip, most of which she will finish before she goes home.
When asked how she developed her book, Devon said she kept a notebook and would jot down character’s names and their descriptions. She wrote the beginning and ending of the book first, then filled in the middle. She would write a scene with narration between characters, then find a spot in the story to add that scene. She also kept track of everything on a calendar, since the storyline takes place over a two week period, and some parts are written in the form of a journal.
Devon has loved Mackinac Island since she first came as a six-year-old little girl. At that age, it was the horses that intrigued her. Now, at 15, she is finding the island full of more “grown-up” interests. She and her girlfriend Ellery have spent a lot of time biking this year, and love the tradition her dad began three years ago of going on a midnight ride around the island on the first night they are here.
Devon has already started two more books, and on Friday (June 25) she will have a book signing at the Island Bookstore from 1-3 p.m. Wow – signing your own book at 15! I foresee great things ahead for this young lady!
Thanks, Sue, for keeping in touch and giving me the opportunity to see your family again and to meet Devon and Andrew. See you next summer – good Lord willing!