The Novel Approach welcomes Heidi Cullinan today on the Carry the Ocean blog tour. Enjoy Heidi’s guest post, then be sure to check out the ways you can win some great prizes, including a tour wide Grand Prize. You’ll find details below.
And now, here’s Heidi!
This Used to Be My Playground
In Carry the Ocean, the characters go several times into the playground behind The Roosevelt, to play, to sit under trees, to get away from a world too much with them. It will feature more in books two and three. What it will never be, however, is something you can visit. Many things in Carry the Ocean exist in Ames, the town I live in, including The Roosevelt as a renovated elementary school. The playground, alas, is with us no more.
Part of the reason I used The Roosevelt as a setting and feature in the story—and kept the playground—is for my daughter. Though it shuttered before she went to school, she grew up playing on the wooden structure. It was where she learned to ride her bike. It was the place close enough for her to bike to and be on her own. It felt familiar and comfortable because of the school building beside it, but it could be enjoyed at any hour of any day because the school wasn’t operational. Even bathrooms weren’t an issue, because home wasn’t so terribly far away.
When The Roosevelt was sold, the playground was razed. It was considered too unsafe, and in any event, the people turning the building into condominiums wanted somewhere to build a parking garage and community area. It made logistical sense. My daughter, however, was heartbroken.
The renovations on the building are nearly finished, almost all the units sold. We were given, as neighborhood residents, the option to tour it, but my daughter wouldn’t let us go. She still resents the tearing down of her childhood haunt, even though she hadn’t been there in years when it finally vanished. It’s a raw wound to have the Roosevelt playground gone forever. They could cure cancer and achieve world peace there, and she’d still mourn the loss of her wooden castle.
I put the playground back in my novel for my daughter. I have no idea if she’ll ever read Carry the Ocean, or that doing so would make her feel less upset about the loss even a little. I hope, of course, someday both those things happen. When you read the book, though, I hope when you read the playground scenes you see the ghost of the little girl taking her first brave steps across the “shaky bridge,” daring the twisty slide and the “fast slide,” making friends while navigating the tire maze. Swinging on the tire swing. Never quite finding the bravery for the tunnels. Riding her bike for the first time confidently down the parking lot—even if she had to jump off for the dismount since she didn’t have enough strength to use the brakes on her big bike.
In Carry the Ocean and all the Roosevelt books, the playground will forever stay. I can’t keep my daughter’s heart from breaking even most of the time, but I can put this one precious thing in a place where it will be safe forever. And always, always loved.
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.
Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
About the Author: Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
Heidi Cullinan is offering two ways to win on her Carry the Ocean tour.
Prize #1 is an e-copy of the book, and all you need to do to enter for a chance to win is leave a comment right here.
THE COMMENT-TO-ENTER CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Prize #2 is a tour wide Rafflecopter event, which includes a swag pack filled with goodies tied into the book (image below). Just click on the widget to enter.