Thirteen-year-old Chris and his family are setting up a bungee jump in his backyard. It’s a real large-scale bungee jump off a bridge that connects his backyard to a small island owned by his family. Not only is it going to be the coolest attraction around, but it also provides Chris with an opportunity to watch a real engineer in action. Chris would be excited about it if things didn’t keep going wrong. The rumors of hauntings on the island, once the site of a hospital for children with leprosy, are getting out of control. And there are mysterious mishaps on the bridge. Chris worries that all of these problems will keep customers away. And if the bungee jump isn’t a success, his family will lose everything.
Click here to learn about the story behind the book!
The haunted island in Bungee Jump was inspired by a real “haunted” island that used to be a “lazaretto” (that’s the official term for a leper colony): D’Arcy Island off Victoria, B.C., Canada from 1891-1924. However, rather than a children’s facility, that one was for Chinese immigrants. Click here or here to learn more about that.
As readers of Bungee Jump learn, medical professionals describe leprosy as only “mildly infectious” and say that up to 95% of the world’s population is naturally immune.
To ensure that the novel felt authentic, naturally I researched both leprosy and bungee jumping, including the engineering and mechanics of bungee jump operations, and safety rules. I photocopied a picture of a bungee jump platform and had it hung over my desk for months to help me with descriptions. Also several photos of pipe bridges!
Happily for me, my engineer friend Tony Kavelaars indulged me by answering numerous questions about how the bungee jump platform would progress, and by reading portions of the manuscript. He got a Thai lunch in return, and I was quite happy to name the book’s two main characters after his children, Chris and Caitlin.
Later, my contractor friend Bruce Richmond patiently answered a few more questions.
Regarding Chris’s claustrophobia, he got that from me. I’m definitely claustrophobic. But I’m not afraid of heights, so in theory, I could bungee-jump.
But here’s Confession No. 1: I have never bungee-jumped. I almost did, while walking past a bungee jump operation in Ecuador a few years ago (same time as I was writing this novel). But given my long history of back problems, I was able to resist (by picturing my chiropractor killing me).
And here comes Confession No. 2: This book started out as the second in a new adventure book series that was discontinued after No. 1 when the publisher got out of the children’s book-publishing business.
Imagine how happy I was when Orca Books, one of my favorite publishers, took on a much rewritten version. But if you’re curious about the book’s former predecessor and the ill-fated series, here’s my blog about Paintball Island.
Here’s hoping you enjoy Bungee Jump, and if you take up the sport, that you get the same buzz as my characters did!