SPORTSWRITER PENS BOOK TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN'S LOVE OF READING
By Bernie Petit
All rights reserved
A love of reading and a dad’s desire to give his children a meaningful gift left two parents badly injured in a car wreck and four kids stranded in the North Carolina wilderness on Christmas Eve.
An explanation: The first part of the above is real and the second part is fiction. Both serve as the impetus for a story of the shared courage, perseverance and teamwork between siblings written by a guy well-known in this area for his nonfiction work – and a dad who still reads to his kids every night.
“Lost on the Road to Nowhere” is the first foray into the world of juvenile adventure fiction for Scott Fowler, an award-winning sportswriter for The Charlotte Observer and author of five books on sports. Fowler wrote it because he and his family know how difficult such stories can be to come by.
“We love the ‘Harry Potter’ series and some others, but we really found some that weren’t very good,” said Fowler, who will be at the Gaston County Public Library in Gastonia Dec. 8 for a reading and discussion of his novel.
“We had gotten a little disappointed in what we could get. I knew I could write one that would be entertaining enough for them.”
“Lost on the Road to Nowhere,” which Fowler self-published this year, is about three brothers and their baby sister who face an untold number of miles of deserted road and wilderness between them and the medical attention their parents desperately need.
They have no cell phone, no GPS, no other electronic device to help them find their way. They’re forced to rely on each other to overcome encounters with dangerous bears and a mysterious old woman and save their parents and themselves.
“The whole thought is they have to do this themselves and learn to deal with very difficult situations without their parents,” Fowler said. “It’s something everyone has to do at some point.”
Any similarities between the four kids in the book and any real children are entirely intentional. The children in the book – brothers Chapel, Salem and London and sister Georgia – are named for Fowler’s kids. Many of the anecdotes and much of the dialogue are drawn from their real life conversations and squabbles in the back of the family minivan, though nothing like the situations described in the book have ever happened to the Fowler family.
“It’s about sibling rivalry, which I think almost anybody who’s ever had a brother or a sister can relate to,” Fowler said.
CUTTING TO THE CHASE
Fowler wrote a shorter version of the book in late 2009 as a Christmas gift for his kids. After finishing a few chapters, he let it slip to his kids that he was writing an adventure story with characters based on each of them.
Kids aren’t known for their patience and eventually Fowler’s convinced him to read them his story – their story, really – each night before bed. Their sportswriting Dad read through what he’d already written in about a week, which forced him to crank out more of the story.
“That was worse than any editor I’ve had pushing for a deadline,” he said. “At 8:30, if the chapter was not done, they were disappointed and of course you don’t want to disappoint your kids.”
Often he’s finish banging out pages right before it was time to read. He kept a pen with him and would mark out awkward sounding dialogue and longer, descriptive passages that caused his kids’ eyes to glaze over.
“Probably by reading to them, more than anything, it probably made me hone it down, cut to the chase and get to the good parts and maybe leave out the parts that maybe a kid wouldn’t be so interested in,” he said.
READ THIS BOOK – TO YOUR KIDS
After completing the story in time for Christmas that year and reading it all to his captive audience, Fowler put the book away in a desk drawer. But writers feel better when somebody is reading what they’ve written, he said, and after receiving positive feedback from family and friends, he went back to rewrite and add to what is now an easy 115-page read.
“I’d always thought I’d like to write some fiction and this was my first attempt at that,” he said. “It’s kind of freeing to be able to make stuff up. Of course, as a journalist, I still gravitated to very realistic fiction.”
The likeliest audience for this book is readers in grades 3 through 6, Fowler said, though it makes for a short, enjoyable read for adults and can be read aloud to any elementary-age child.
And the author wants you to read to your kids and to gently push them to read on their own – this book or any other.
“I’m no expert on parenting, I screw up just like anybody else, but I do think that reading is one thing you can’t go wrong with,” he said. “The more you can read with your kids and the more you can encourage them to read, the stress of the day just bleeds out, just fades out and what you’re left with is a story.”
Want to Get Lost?
“Lost on the Road to Nowhere,” a reading and discussion of his new juvenile novel by author Scott Fowler, will take place at 2 p.m. Dec. 8 in the auditorium of the Gaston County Public Library, 1555 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. The free public event is appropriate for children in grades two through six (and their adults). Following the presentation, copies of “Lost on the Road to Nowhere will be available for purchase and author autograph.
Fowler is an award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer and author of five non-fiction books on sports, including “What It Means to Be a Tar Heel,” “Year of the Cat,” “Tales from the Carolina Panthers Sideline,” “North Carolina Tar Heels: Where Have You Gone?” and “Jimmy Black’s Tales from the Tar Heels.”
His new youth adventure book is available in paperback for $7.99 from Amazon.com or for Amazon Kindle for $2.99. For more information on all his books, visit www.scottfowlersports.com.