My True Story:
Some readers have a weird idea of what it means to be a writer. They think I’m locked away in a dingy room with only a computer to keep me company. It's true. I have calluses on my fingers from typing more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books on a plastic keypad. (Okay, so a few titles were tapped out on a typewriter.) But that's only part of the story.
As part of my research, I’ve ridden on horseback into Africa’s Maasailand, hiked through a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, shivered inside a dogsled for the first part of the famed 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, rode-the-foam on a long-board in Hawaii, and spun around dance floors in Havana, Cuba. True!
My adventure novel DEATH MOUNTAIN (Peachtree) is based on a true story. While attempting to hike to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney in California, my group was caught on an exposed ridge in a deadly electrical storm. The pack horse and mule were struck by lightning and killed. Three women in my party were airlifted off the mountain by helicopter and flown to a nearby hospital. Thankfully, they were released shortly after a doctor examined them.
For my middle-grade novel FROZEN STIFF (Random House), I spent a week kayaking to the largest tidewater glacier in North America, Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. Like my main character, I battled renegade icebergs and had a close encounter with a bear. Again, true.
When I decided to write and photo-illustrate DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: THE STORY OF THE JR. IDITAROD (Mondo), I stayed with a family of mushers in Alaska. Everyday, I followed them with my camera while they trained their dogs. You know that's a true story since DASHING is nonfiction.
When I’m not traveling around the world or dodging lightning bolts, I like to dance. Sometimes I even enter contests at dance conventions. Even though I’ve never won one -- at least not yet -- it’s fun to wear clothes that sparkle and glue on false eyelashes. True story.
Okay, now it’s time to plop down in my writing chair....
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Reviews of SKIN AND BONES:
"The writing is simple and accessible, and Bones' warped self-image is effectively conveyed. . ." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The plot is well paced and develops quickly. . ." School Library Journal
"Shahan has crafted a fast-moving story of addiction and first love that--refreshingly--will appeal to male readers, who don't find themselves regularly represented in eating-disorder-treatment and -recovery fiction." Booklist
"Shahan tackles eating disorders in a fast-paced, contemporary coming-of-age novel. . . A quick read with a worthy message: We are all recovering from something, and the right companions can help you heal. The wrong ones can kill you." Kirkus Reviews
SKIN AND BONES. From the case files of a hospital Eating Disorder Unit in Los Angeles:
Jack “Bones” Plumb: Age 16, anorexic.
Goal: To retain his svelte self no matter what the hospital tries to force feed him.
Likes: Alice, a sexy but dangerously thin ballerina in the program. Dislikes: One-on-one meetings with the resident shrink-ologist, Dr. Chu.
Alice: Age 17, returning anorexic patient.
Goal: To be hired by a professional ballet company.
Likes: Manipulating the system, road trips, and, just maybe, Bones.
Dislikes: Anyone and anything that keeps her from getting what she wants.