BACK from a wee break to introduce my friend, Lesley Downie’s, new Mid-Grade novel, Tunnels. It’s an archeological adventure that takes 12-year-old Kat Goldberg sleuthing deep into the underground tunnels of her hometown. This is Lesley’s second outing in the MG genre. I twisted her arm to join me here on the blog page because I totally enjoyed this book and it’s quirky female protagonist, Kat.
Kat is leading a normal teenage existence with a demon child brother, a first crush and a quest to become the next Margaret Mead. Soon her discovery of underground tunnels in her hometown brings her face to face with some scary urban legends and a decades old mystery.
You look like a fully grown woman. What made you want to write about a twelve-year old, thrift store shopping, archeologist in training?
The good thing about escaping in writing is that you get to be who you want to be. Kat is the twelve-year-old I wish I’d had the guts to be at that age. Actually, she’s who I’d like to have the guts to be now! It took me a long time to learn to go after a dream and not to let anything stop you. Plus, her style is eclectic and cool. She gets away with fashion choices I’d never have the nerve to pull off.
Did Kat’s personality hit you immediately or did it take time to develop?
It’s been developing my whole life and was pretty much in place before the actual story idea came to me. I don’t mean I intended to write her as a character since I was a kid, but I think it goes back to question number one. She is an ideal I aspired to be always. Also, I’d been writing a series of short stories called The Dot Chronicles and my writing mentor said that Kat was Dot as a kid after he read Tunnels. I can see parts of the story where the shape of her character has been there a very long time.
Her sidekick, Evan, is a hoot, and a great BFF. I’m going to ask one of the most annoying questions anyone can ask a fiction writer. Did you know someone like him?
In my twenties, I had a great friend name Danny who is very much like Evan. Always did lots of good-natured teasing and complaining but in the end was always there when I needed him. And he was a great shopping pal.
The underground tunnels in Citrus Grove sound intriguing and, frankly, kind of creepy. What inspired those?
As a kid I grew up in a place that Citrus Grove was modeled after. I always imagined secret tunnels existed below the city. Most old cities or towns have that element and it’s a great way to let your imagination grow. And, since the Native Americans lived here and built intricate irrigation systems that many times ran underground, I just expanded that in my head. I was alone a lot as a kid. Very shy. It was then a lot of the story formed.
Your debut novel, Chaos Cave, was based on history and Kat is addicted to history. Is that a passion of yours?
I love all history. Yes, you could say I’m addicted to history and any archaeology related stuff. I dragged my husband and son on many a road trip to check out sites. The Chrystal Cave in Arizona is a place everyone should check out! Magical, just like the cave in my story.
Working on anything new? Yes, I just finished My FORTUNEate life and can’t wait to introduce readers to Abby Howard. She rocks! Abby has some similarities to Kat because they are both bold and outspoken, but beyond that it’s a completely new story.