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Drum roll…. Yes, a new book out this week! A middle-grade adventure story.

 

 

Quick summary: Thirteen-year-old Chris and his younger sister need to help make their family’s new bungee jump operation work, which means battling rumors that the island it’s on is haunted. (It used to hold a hospital for children with leprosy.)

You can order this novel from Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Bungee-Jump-Orca-Currents-Withers/dp/1459812166/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473273092&sr=1-1&keywords=bungee+jump

Or from Chapters: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/bungee-jump/9781459812161-item.html?ikwid=bungee+jump&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

Here’s an Orca Book interview with me about the novel:
http://blog.orcabook.com/tuesday-talk-with-pam-withers/

And here’s the inside story of how it came to be:
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.
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 had several photos of pipe bridges in my office!
Happily for me, my engineer friend Tony K. 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 R. 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, which 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:
http://pwithers.blogspot.ca/2015/03/the-sad-tale-behind-writing-paintball.html
Here’s hoping you enjoy Bungee Jump, and if you take up the sport, that you get the same buzz as my characters did!

*P.S. Here’s information on D’Arcy Island, the leper colony that inspired the book:
https://gvpl.ca/using-the-library/our-collection/local-history/tales-from-the-vault/the-lepers-of-d-arcy-island
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D’Arcy_Island
And FYI, medical professionals describe leprosy as only “mildly infectious” and say that up to 95% of the world’s population is naturally immune.