Stuff to think about

The WIP Character Blog Tour

September 7, 2014

Tags: wip character blog tour, characters, middle grade

I was tagged in the WIP Character Blog Hop by Adi Rule

Adi is the author of Strange Sweet Song and has a new book coming out called Redwing. Aside from writing awesome books, Adi spends her time jumping off things and hoping to land in water while listening to Chemical Romance. She lives with various animals that are, unfortunately, illiterate.
You can track down Adi and find out if she has survived her latest jump on Facebook at Adi Rule, Check out her blog and her WIP Character blog post at WIP Character Blog Hop

What is the name of your character – fictional or historic?
The name of my main character is Jack Berenson. He is mainly fictional, but I based many of the situations and attitudes Jack faces in The Berenson Schemes on my experiences backpacking around the world and living in the Caribbean for eight years. Expatriates are fascinating people who often don’t follow rules. Or know what the rules are. Or care.

When and where is the story set?
Jack at the Helm is the third in The Berenson Schemes series – Jack the Castaway was set in the Caribbean and Jack and the Wildlife in Kenya, but now Jack and his parents are off to Nepal. His parents bought a farmhouse off the internet for $500 dollars (located in the scenic town of Shangrilala – which they are having trouble locating) and they are going to build the world-wide headquarters of the religion they invented. They are confident that this new spiritual movement will take the world by storm. And really, what’s not to like? Reincarnation is optional and you can decide to come back rich if you want. Here’s the plan –

“People from all over the world will flock to Nepal to hear our teachings,” his dad said. “Then those grateful pilgrims will leave us change in our donation boxes. Spare change can add up pretty quick when you don’t have to pay taxes.”
“Donation boxes are for the poor!” Jack said.
His mom shrugged. “We’re not not poor.”
“Son,” Jack’s dad said, “everybody knows, charity starts at home.”

What should we know about him?
Jack is a sensible and overly-cautious kid who is saddled with irresponsible parents who love him very much, but keep losing him in foreign countries. His parents are Brits, while Jack was born in the U.S. (Mainly I made the parents British because British eccentrics are the most entertaining eccentrics). Jack’s parents are determined to chase one get-rich-quick scheme after the next in foreign locales. They had initially tried to make their fortune in America but that did not go as planned. In book one, Jack the Castaway, they explained their checkered career to Jack:

“We were forest fire lookouts for a while.”
“Until the fire,” his dad said, shaking his head.
“We house-sat for a soap opera star once.”
“He got a little melodramatic over one tiny gas leak, but that’s Hollywood for you.”
“We tried crop dusting.”
“Finding the landing strip is harder than you’d think.”
“When you were very little, we were chimney sweeps.”
“Who would have thought it would take two fire companies to get me out of that last chimney?” his dad said.

So, they naturally concluded that –

“If we want to live the American Dream, we’re going to have to look outside America.”

It would seem, on the face of it, that Jack has it all figured out and his parents are in the wrong. And they are wrong - they are complete lunatics. But, Jack has his own problems. At the start of book one, he is a kid who never wants to take any risks at all, and that’s not good. Because he is forced to survive in the wilderness alone, multiple times, he is forced to take some risks. By doing so, he gains confidence in his own abilities. I admit it’s a rather dramatic way to learn lessons about risk-taking, but had this not happened to Jack, he would have had no impetus to take chances and find out what he was really capable of.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Jack would like to be living an orderly life, with a schedule and predictability. Instead, he is whisked off to foreign countries and promptly lost in the wilderness, left to survive on his wits. In this book, Jack and his parents think they have done everything possible to avoid a repeat of what happened last time. (In Jack and the Wildlife, due to a mishap involving a Jeep and a Cape buffalo, Jack is left to homestead in an acacia tree on the plains of the Masai Mara with limited supplies) This time, they have decided to take a bus. His parents say –

“We have learned our lesson about renting Jeeps,” his mom said over her shoulder. “I said to your dad, no more zooming away in a Jeep without Jack.”
“Goodbye to that,” his dad said.

Of course, through a series of events, they lose him anyway. Because they ALWAYS lose him.

What is the personal goal of the character?
Jack is determined to find a method of fixing his parents so that they can become the responsible citizens he wants. He is sick and tired of having to survive in the wilderness and does not think these experiences will help him get into Harvard. He has tried a number of strategies, including writing The Berenson Family Decision-Making Rules and having his parents follow and try to emulate parents that Jack deems first rate. Sadly, trying to anticipate what Richard and Claire Berenson might do next is like trying to plug a hundred holes in a dam with just one finger. No matter what he does, they find a new way to lose him – they are the gold medalists of “Wait, where did he go?”

Is there a working title for this book? Can we read more about it?
The title is The Berenson Schemes #3 - Jack at the Helm.

When can we expect the book to be published?
It will be released on January 1, 2015. Happy New Year!

Who are you tagging?
I’m tagging – Nicole Valentine, writer and technologist! Check out her blog about her time traveling character, Finn, next week right here - Nicole Valentine's Blog