Flashback Friday - Victoria Schwab

Hello Friends! It's been a long while since I've posted a Friday in the Fort interview, which led to its unintentional retirement.

In its place, I'm starting a new feature called "Flashback Friday." The premise is simple - visiting authors will share something from their past, be it a memory, a piece of writing, a photo, or a favorite book or movie.

First up, we have lovely Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch (Disney*Hyperion), the upcoming The Archived (Disney*Hyperion) and sequel, and her adult novel, Vicious (Tor).

One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of the paperback of The Near Witch! Make sure to include an email address!

Take it away, V!

Wow, I look really happy in this photo! That's funny. Let me tell you a story. 

That picture is from an...let's call it an excursion. 

When I was 16, my parents sent me on Outward Bound, which is this outdoors-y program for teens. I was really big into rock-climbing at the time, and my mum thought this would make an AWESOME birthday present. 

But OB has a few different tracks. There's the regular track, which I can only assume is filled with normal happy, fun activities. And there's the reform track, for trouble-making teens. 

My mum did not read the fine print. 

Guess which track 16-year-old, totally well-adjusted teen Victoria got sent on? YEP. The reform track. 10 problem children--one sent for getting so wasted she blacked out and woke up with musical notes tattooed across her back, despite the fact she'd never played an instrument--and me. Of course when I tried to explain to my OB leaders that I'd been placed in the wrong track, they gave me the same withering look prison wardens must give inmates who swear they're innocent. 

I was stuck. 

The reform track consisted of 7 days of 8-10 hour hikes, 3 days of rock-climbing, and a 12-hour solo period for reflection. 

The first day of hiking, I had an enlightening experience. I learned I was allergic to hornets, after one climbed down my boot (O_O). 

Shortly after, the rain started. It never stopped. 3 days of rock-climbing was reduced to one day of mandatory cliff-scaling. As you can see in the photo, the rock face was more of a sheet of stone than a climbable surface. What you can't see in the photo was how slick it was from days of rain. What you also can't see is that my kneecaps are bruised and bloody from falling on the climb and hitting the stone. The rock-climbing, you see, was mandatory. I grimaced through this photo, and spent the rest of the day quietly cursing my OB leaders. 

The last element, and probably the most traumatizing, was the reflection period. Armed with only a tarp and a hummus burrito, campers were led into a patch of dead woods (the constant cracking of branches instilled the camper with a never-ending fear that something was coming). A square of 10 feet by 10 feet was marked off, and the camper was put inside it, handed a whistle in case of bears and snakes, and instructed to sit for the next 12 hours, and reflect on life. 

Sometimes, when I'm having bad days, I like to look at this photo. Sure, I use the Heinous Outward Bound Trip of 2003 to guilt my mother into baking me cookies at every possible opportunity--I had a scar on my leg for TWO YEARS from that hornet sting, and my knees are still knicked up from the climb--but that trip is also a constant reminder that most forms of hell are temporary, and that every horrific experience I've ever gone through has later made a great story (some other time I'll tell you about getting arrested for hitchhiking in France). 

As writers, life is fodder. The good and the bad inspire and inform, and things that make you grimace now, will almost certainly make you smile--and maybe even laugh--later. 


  1. Oh Outward Bound. I seriously considered going in high school until they told us about the bathroom facilities. The facilities being a hole you dug in the ground. HA! Yeah right. I tore up my form ASAP and when my friends who went got back and told us all about it I had absolutely no regrets about not having to use leaves as TP.

  2. It's always great to learn a little bit more about my most favorite YA author :)

    ank272 (at) live (dot) com

  3. learning about other's experiences are a great way to learn from them and find new things to do or errr avoid. Excited about this giveaway! have been wanting to read this book for a long time :)

    fingers crossed


  4. Hornets love boots. It's a terrible fact of nature.


  5. Oh my. That sounds like quite the experience!


  6. I adore you, Victoria! <3 You are just so cute. Love this post so much :D Thank you for sharing. <3 But holy. I could never have survived that o.O Sounds so bad :\ but you did it! :D Also; this giveaway is amazing. I loved The Near Witch; and I really want a signed copy :D *Fingers crossed.* <3
    Love, Carina ~ carina-olsen@hotmail.com

  7. Wow, Victoria! That is WHACKADOODLE! Thanks for sharing the story...and for the nightmares I'll have now.

    lchardesty at yahoo dot com

  8. AHAHA My mom would never do this to me since she has this tendency to ask questions until the color of my SHOES will be crystal clear, but that's so funny! I'm sorry you never got to take the normal course! :(

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***
    eileenblog (at) yahoo (dot) com

  9. Ooh my. I would never let my mom live that down. And I totally would have come back with a fake tattoo and told her one of my new friends did it for me while we were up on the mountain


  10. Oh dear, the words, I have none. To the parents of V, I hope you got a new car and non curfew forever to make up for that. My only knowledge of such a place comes from Lifetime movies, but you deserve all the prizes for the making up of that.

  11. Your story made my day! I can't believe the OB gave you "that" look. LOL! I have never been rock-climbing but even I know climbing on that is ...hard. I can't wait to hear about the arrested for hitchhiking in France story! The saying, "It will be over before you know it.", is a saying that gets me though anything. :)


  12. No wonder you became a writer. You have so much life to regurgitate on paper...


  13. wow. that...is not fun. i would never choose to camp or rock climb voluntarily anyway, but i most definitely would go crazy stuck in a program like that with the (scary to me) reform kids. but wow you totally did it and now have an awesome story to tell. and i would totally still be requesting baked cookies all the time : )

    ame1184 at gmail dot com


  15. Ah yes, life is merry fodder for us isn't it? And guilt cookies are very tasty! ;) Love this story and thank you for sharing!

    Kristina at tenminutemissive dot com

  16. Isn't it great when you can look back on rather difficult situations and find comfort in them?

    Love this guest post! Victoria Schwab is awesome, I have the Archived on my wish-list!

    Thanks so much:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com


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