When Tristan’s dad disappears, he puts his tracking skills to the test to find him — but will Tristan’s talents save him if it turns out to be a trap?
Thanks to his dad’s coaching, sixteen-year-old Tristan is one of the best climbers and trackers in his community. He can read footprints and bushes like they’re security-camera footage, and fearlessly descend rock faces and waterfalls. But when his father disappears, leaving his mother too grief-stricken to function, the young canyoneer’s life goes into freefall.
Left in the hands of a well-meaning but incompetent uncle and a space-cadet housekeeper, Tristan finds life a struggle no matter how hard he works. Finding himself near the end of his rope at home, the teen decides to set off into Swallow Canyon to search for his father — only to realize that someone seems to be out to get him. Now the question is who’s stalking whom, and are Tristan’s skills up to the dangerous game playing out in the deep, shadowy ravine?
Click here to learn about the story behind the book!
It all began while I was on vacation near Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. I picked up a magazine called Mountain Life (summer 2013 edition) at a local café. It showcased an article with stunning photos of roped-up, wetsuited adventurers descending waterfalls and sculpted canyons in nearby terrain. The relatively new sport was called “canyoneering.”
“This is the topic of my next adventure novel,” I declared to my husband, though I’d never heard of the activity before.
I began by culling through websites about the sport and ordering some books. Then I phoned the Vancouver author/photographer of the magazine piece, Francois-Xavier de Ruydts, and watched his award-winning short film of exploring canyons near Squamish, British Columbia, Canada (where I chose to set the novel): “Down the Line.”
Francois-Xavier and I met, and he showed me his canyoneering equipment. But given that my husband and I were just about to leave for California for two months for my husband’s work, I also sought out another contact: Dominik Nadolski, a long-time California canyoneer.
Perhaps bemusedly, Dominik met up with me in a San Francisco coffee shop, where I showed him my other books and explained what I was up to. Thank goodness he was a good sport, because he proceeded to help me for the next few months with both early-stage plotting and technical details of canyoneering.
He patiently read several drafts in between our Skype conversations and even sent me occasional YouTube links to help me understand this relatively new sport I was writing about. His passion for canyoneering (also called canyoning) was definitely infectious.
Meanwhile, I was busy reading books by tracker Tom Brown Jr. and websites on tracking.
MIXING FICTION WITH REAL
Clearly, Swallow Canyon is fictional, but the lovely towns of Lillooet and Squamish exist. Oh, and I personally tested the breathing-through-a-licorice tube underwater without drowning.
My character Dominik is named after my hardworking consultant, and is Polish to salute him too. “You can use my name as long as you spell it right,” he teased.
I dedicated the book to Francois-Xavier’s baby daughter, born as I was writing the book.
It’s a relatively dark story but full of adventure and tension and it offers a hopeful ending. I hope you enjoy Tracker’s Canyon!