Dianne Gardner is both an author and illustrator living the Pacific Northwest. She’s spent many years living out in the desert wilderness of the American Southwest, lived in a hogan made from adobe and cedar for thirteen years, co-owned 25 horses both pure bred and Native American ponies, traveled horseback and by wagon throughout the Navajo reservation, herded sheep and goat, worked in the forest planting trees and piling, farmed on barren soil and even lived in a teepee for a short while. She spent many long years using survival skills as a way of life.
Tell us about your new book, Dianne!
Ian’s Realm: Deception Peak
The first book of a trilogy, Deception Peak is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life. But when the two are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It’s then that he learns there is a greater purpose for being there.
In this scene, Ian’s been taken prisoner by the dragon-worshiping tribe, the Meneks and is forced to do the unfamiliar work of a fisherman.
The day dragged on. In all his life, Ian had never done so much work. He smelled like dead fish, and the blisters on his hands were raw and open. His palms burned with pain as the sand and salt rubbed into his sores. His feet ached from the hot pavement, and they too had blisters on them. Not being accustomed to walking barefoot, he had stubbed his toes more than once, and now two of them were black and blue under the nails.
After a meager lunch of porridge and bread, Ian sat on the beach with fifty other boys, repairing the fishing nets that were pulled from the boats. Emil showed him how to tie a clove hitch so that he could work the knots. Other boys stretched the nets, bending over them for hours unloosing debris. Others separated long pieces of seaweed, driftwood, and other flotsam out of the nets to throw it back into the sea.
Repairing the nets allowed Ian to sit down. Tying knots was tedious work. His fingers were already numb from pain and blisters, and rubbed raw from the sand. Worse, the chore gave him time to think, and thinking just made the hours go by slower.
I’d sure like to see my computer again. Wake up in my bed like I used to, staring at the ceiling. I just want to find out this is nothing but a blasted nightmare. Wake up with Dad standing by my bed. Shaking me. Telling me to get ready for school.
Ian watched the other boys as they worked painlessly. “How come I’m the only one whose hands are hurting?” he asked.
“Your hands will get calloused in time,” Emil told him.
Time? I’m not spending enough time here for my hands to get calloused. I’m leaving. As soon as I devise a plan, I’m out of here. If I have to walk home, tackle my way over that mountain, and wrestle with a dragon, I’m going home.
Still, he didn’t have the remote to click himself back through the portal. And he certainly didn’t want to leave without his father. He looked over his shoulder and stared at the bluffs that towered over the village. Behind them stood the dark foreboding peak that shadowed the Meneks’ existence, like some gruesome and evil throne. The sun was setting, and gold rays cast shadows on the cliffs. Soon it would be night, and the mountain would be glowing an eerie, creepy glow like it had the night his father went missing.
Why’d you have to disappear, Dad? Where are you? Why don’t you just miraculously show up and take us home?
Ian tugged at the knot he had just tied.
Unlike the slave-driving Meneks on the docks, the fishermen let the boys socialize as they worked. During breaks, they were allowed to stretch, walk in the water and cool their feet in the gentle waves that splashed on the shore.
Emil waved, “Take a break, Ian.”
Break? The only break I want is a break away from here.
The tide rolled across his toes, leaving tiny bubbles around the clam shells, sand crabs, and polished rocks that swept in from the ocean. He reached to pick up a flat rock on the sand, black like the mountain, a chip from a landscape far away from its source. He flipped the stone and caught it. Grief soared inside of him, like steam inside a pressure cooker. He swung his shoulder back and flung the stone into the water, watching it skip across the waves until it finally sank into the glittering sea. And then it was gone, like Dad.
Finally, as the orange and pinks of the setting sun shimmered on the water, the sailors came to them and took the nets, reeling them into long rolls and then folding them crosswise. Ian liked the sailors. They stayed to their work and were kind to the boys, talking to them like they were part of the crew, like they were men.
It was the end of the day and their work was done. The boys brushed the seaweed off their britches and shirtsleeves. They slapped the sand off of their hands, and walked up the beach. Ian followed but fell behind, lacking the spirit the others had.
Watch the trailer:
Deception Peak from Dianne Gardner on Vimeo.
Wow! And the artwork is fantastic! I understand you do all your own artwork, as well as writing. Gorgeous stuff! Thanks so much for visiting me today, Dianne. 🙂
You can buy DECEPTION PEAK at Amazon. Learn more about the book and about Dianne at her website.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Plop a character from one book into an incompatible one. How would Oliver Twist behave in The Hunger Games?