On a wilderness river in contemporary northern Canada, two fifteen-year-old boys, Jake and Peter, find themselves kayaking down ninety-five miles of whitewater rapids to summon help for a stranded and injured rafting party. The feat tests their physical and psychological stamina, as well as their friendship. As they pit themselves against time and wilderness dangers, they learn the value of cooperation, trust and determination. They also learn to trust their instincts and face adversity with courage. Above all, they redefine friendship and winning.
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Click here to learn about the story behind the book!
I wrote my first novel, Raging River, 16 years ago, just to keep myself out of trouble while I was unemployed for a year. I wrote much of it in chilly hockey rink arenas while my then 10-year-old son was at practice. I read each chapter to him as his bedtime story. He used to say, like any kid delaying his bedtime, “Mom, won’t you read me just one more chapter?” And I’d reply, “No, because I haven’t written it yet.”
It took me four months to write Raging River, then three years for eight publishers to reject it. A ninth accepted it and said the contract was in the mail, and assigned me an editor who edited the entire book (and deleted Chapter Three) without that contract ever arriving. Still, my husband, son and I went out to a nice restaurant and toasted my success.
At the time I was working fulltime as an editor at a high-tech consulting firm, when suddenly I was notified I was being laid off. I was cleaning out my desk my last day and thinking, “At least I have my first novel accepted,” when the phone on my desk rang. I wondered if I should answer it, since I didn’t technically work there anymore. Well, I did, and it was the editor letting me know that there had been a change in management and they were not going to publish it. The contract never had arrived in the mail.
A few months later, Whitecap Books accepted it (the version as just edited). My new editor thought “something seemed to be missing” between Chapters 2 & 3. So I delivered the chapter that the previous editor had deleted, and she was happy to put it back in.
I had (rather boldly) proposed that Raging River be the first in a series of novels on extreme sports, and Whitecap called my bluff and assigned me to carry on (delivering one novel every six months for the next five years). Whoa, how intimidating was that?! Luckily, I had started doing school talks and the students were more than happy to suggest sports to cover. I actually took votes from them to determine the next nine books.
Other trivia about Raging River:
- I wrote it with no outline; I just knew that a waterfall plunge would be the climax. (I’ve learned since to always outline; I definitely do NOT recommend writing without an outline, because it takes twice and long as doesn’t turn out as well.)
- Names of characters were taken from the kids in my kayak club at the time.
- Having been a whitewater raft guide, kayak racer and kayak instructor, I found it easy to write about my sport, and Nancy (the raft company boss) is more or less based on me.
- This remains the novel that was easiest to write, only because I had no idea what I was doing. Once I knew more about plotting and writing, and what I had done wrong, writing became more challenging!
- The Cattibone River is fictional, but I’ve had readers tell me they tried to find it on a map. It’s based in part on my experience kayaking the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
- The grizzly bear attack, beaver dam experience and heron attack are all based on real-life incidents of friends with whom I’ve paddled.
- Sam Miller, owner of Sam’s Adventure Tours, has my pre-married last name, and his headquarters resembles the rafting headquarters of a California outfit for which I used to work.
- I set the book in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, because it’s a long-time training center for both American and Canadian kayak racers; I spent much time there during my kayak racing days.