An Interview with Dee Garretson – Wildfire Run

14 Apr

Dee Garretson is the author of Wildfire Run, which is being released on August 31, 2010.  She writes books for middle graders.  Dee has a degree in Landscape Horticulture and worked as a landscape designer and taught landscape horticulture classes for several years before returning to writing.  Please visit her website at

A draft cover for Wildfire Run, before the title was finalized.

1. The idea for the plot of ‘Wildfire Run’ came to you during the 2008 primary elections for the U.S.presidential race. Please tell us what the story is about and how you developed the idea for it.

Here’s my one sentence blurb for it: When Luke Brockett, the President’s son, is trapped at Camp David during a wildfire by high tech security gone haywire, he and his friends Callie and Theo know they have to find a way out before it is too late.

I developed the idea for the story because I’m one of those people who follow elections and politics obsessively. (I have a degree in international relations from Tufts University.) It’s my version of sports addiction. The fascination is partly with the people and personalities behind the events. Having children of my own, what struck me during the ’08 primaries was the number of young children or grandchildren of the candidates. That led me to think of how some of those children’s lives were going to take a drastic change.

2. Can you tell us a little more about Camp David?

Camp David is the presidential vacation retreat located right in the middle of Catoctin National Park in Maryland. It’s supposed to be a place where the presidents and their families can vacation safely and away from media scrutiny. Information about what’s inside is very limited, especially after the events of 9/11. I cobbled together what I could from a variety of sources, so the historical detail in the book is as accurate as I could make it, and the rest, well, it’s fiction.

3. What age group do you think would enjoy Wildfire Run? Is this a book for middle graders?

The book is for middle graders, and probably slightly older readers up to the age of about fourteen.

4. When you were writing this story, did you do any research about what life might be like for a child of a U.S. President?

I had already done quite a bit of research on presidential children, because I was toying with the idea of a nonfiction picture book on the subject. I ended up using that material to write a play which will be on my website in the near future for teachers’ use as a class project. Doing the research gave me an overall feeling of how to handle my main character.

5. Wildfire Run will be released on August 31, 2010, will it be your first published novel?

Yes, it will be my first published novel.

6. Did you give any thought to the prospective audience for this novel when you were writing or editing it? Did you intend for this to be a book for boys?

I did intend it to be a book for boys. I became interested in middle grade fiction targeted to boys when my son was about nine. He was so excited about some of the books he was reading, and he really wanted me to read them as well. I took a serious look at the books he particularly loved that he read over and over, and that’s what made me decide to try my hand at a sort of book he would want to read.

7. What about this book do you think boys in particular might enjoy?
There’s problem solving with cobbled together gadgets. I’m showing my age, but I’ve always described the main character, Luke, as a MacGyver-type kid. There’s a kid-built robot. And Luke gets to drive around in the woods in an old jeep. I think that appeals to any pre-licensed driver!

8. If you had to describe it by comparing it to other books, which would you choose and why?

It’s set up more like an adult thriller/suspense novel, because early on I switch points of view each chapter between several different people, but the later parts are more action oriented from the main character’s perspective. I would hope kids who like Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series would like this book as well.

9. Are you working on another novel? Do you plan to write any other books with male protagonists?

I’m working on a second middle grade book right now for HarperCollins, also with a male protagonist. This one is about kid actors on a sci fi movie set who get trapped in a blizzard. It’s been so much fun to research movie-making for this, plus I’m a huge science fiction fan, so that part is exciting as well.

10. Is there going to be a book trailer for your novel? Are you or the publishers taking any special steps to try to reach boy readers?

I plan to have a book trailer up by early summer. One very exciting step HarperCollins is taking is their new site, Awesome Adventure Books,, which targets their action-oriented books with some additional games for kids. It also has special sections for parents and teachers. I’m hoping my book will be on the site when it is released.

11. Which novels by other authors would you recommend to boys?

There are so many I enjoy, it’s hard to limit it. The GREGOR THE OVERLANDER series by Suzanne Collins is fantastic. Most people now know her for her young adult books, HUNGER GAMES in particular, but the earlier middle grade GREGOR series shouldn’t be overlooked. The ARTEMIS FOWL series by Eoin Colfer are both fun and imaginative. Those were my son’s absolute favorites.

12. Besides your author website and your blog, you have another website called “Adventure Books” at , please tell us about that website and what inspired you to create it.

I’m very interested in why some kids love to read and others don’t, and it seems that many kids who say they don’t like to read may think that only because they haven’t been exposed to the sort of books that would draw them in. I wanted a site parents, teachers and librarians could use with kid-tested high appeal books. It’s not a traditional review site, because I don’t list any books that don’t pass my kid readers and my own somewhat arbitrary parameters. There are many books I’ve recently read that need to be added to it, but I just haven’t had the time. Too many great books in the world!

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Carl

  1. Other Lisa

    April 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Great interview — this fellow political junkie (and former film studio employee) looks forward to your books!

  2. Lori

    April 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Wonderful interview. I can’t wait to buy a copy for my 10-year-old son and (Yes, I know it’s geared toward boys, but …) my 8-year-old daughter.

  3. Laura Manivong

    April 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Can’t wait for this one! Thanks for the interview, Carl and Dee!

  4. Contemporary Art Paintings New York

    September 30, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Blimey, see now this stuff makes it all look so easy. And it kinda is except far too many people dont know. Really worthwhile post 🙂 Ta!