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.