In March I was contacted by the head of publicity at Scholastic’s, Olivia Horrox, and asked if I would like to take part in the Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined blog tour! I absolutely loved EBINR, so of course I was delighted!
This guest post from Danielle Younge-Ullman is on how she went about researching for EBINR, as well as some insight into some of her own camp experiences. I’ll begin by sharing the (gorgeous) cover of the book, as well a short blurb from Goodreads:
Ingrid has made a deal with her mother: she gets to go to the school of her choice as long as she completes a three-week wilderness programme. But when Ingrid arrives, she quickly realizes there has been a terrible mistake: there will be no marshmallows or cabins here. Instead, her group will embark on a torturous trek, with almost no guidance from the two counsellors and supplied with only the things they can carry. On top of this, the other teen participants are “at risk youth”, a motley crew of screw-ups, lunatics and delinquents. But as the laborious days go by, and as memories of her complicated past come flooding back, Ingrid must confront the question of whether she shares more in common with these troubled teens than she’s willing to admit.
EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED RESEARCH & CAMP EXPERIENCES:
Hi Bex! Thanks for having me, and for your enthusiasm for Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined.
You asked me to write about my research for EBINR, and any camp experiences I may have had, and I’m going to start with the second part, because it will address the first as well.
I started going to camp at age 7, and went to a bunch of different camps as a kid. The first two were gymnastics camps–gymnastics was my thing at that point. Then I went to a very classic, traditional, all-girls camp in Minnesota for a couple of years, and once I moved to Canada, I went to a camp called Muskoka Woods. All of these were great experiences, and some were more rustic than others–ranging from cabins with no electricity and where the showers and toilets were in another building, to camps with full facilities in every cabin. One of these camps even did a four-day canoe trip, which I enjoyed.
Then, near the very end of high school, my mom decided I was underachieving, and told me I had to raise my grades considerably, or she would make me go to a very rustic wilderness camp. (My grades had been good enough to get me into university, by the way, and yes I’m still mad about it, lol.) Both my brothers had done this wilderness program and actually had a great time. They’d stayed in cabins for most of it, but near the end there was a camping-out trip where they used all the skills they’d been learning–making fires, et cetera. I had shown some very mild interest in this, but when my mom told me I would have to go, I was MAD. I cried and begged and railed, but she would not budge. I tried to raise my marks, and did raise them, but not enough. I had to go on the trip, and finally resigned myself to it. My mother was immovable and formidable on this subject for some reason. I think she wanted me to prove I was as tough as my brothers, and was worried about me surviving at university…? I’m still not sure. (We are close, and were then, too, but this was a rather low point in our relationship!)
So, I thought it was going to be fine, and was used to camp, but when I got there it was not the same program my brothers had done–there wasn’t an actual camp, and the whole thing was far more hard-core than I’d been led to expect. I did not respond well–I had a total meltdown.
In terms of research, much of the physical miseries and challenges portrayed in Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined are taken directly from my experience, but I also added extra horrors that are pure fiction. I did research about camping, too, just to make sure I was still up to date on terminology, and I researched canoeing, because I…didn’t stay for the canoeing portion of my wilderness trip. That’s another story. (And the canoe trip I’d taken earlier in life was at age 9, so while I remember it, I do not remember the fine points.) Luckily I have a teenage cousin who is really into wilderness trekking, and she did a great job educating me on all the details I was missing.
Overall, this story is fiction, but with the real facts and details of my wilderness camp are used as a jumping off point.
Thanks again for hosting me, and I hope your readers are curious enough to check out Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined.
That’s it for this guest post! Thank you so much to Danielle for coming on my blog, and a big thank you to the wonderful people over at Scholastic for arranging this guest post, this was really interesting (I don’t think I could’ve survived such an extreme camp!). Like I’ve said before, I really enjoyed Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined – it was a stunning novel, and I urge you to read it yourself!
Danielle Younge-Ullman is a Canadian novelist,playwright and freelance writer. This is her second YA novel, and would be her first published in the UK. She studied English and Theatre at McGill University in Montreal, then returned to her hometown of Toronto to work as professional actor for ten years. This was character-building time during which she held a wild variety of acting and non-acting jobs–everything from working on the stage and in independent films, to dubbing English voices for Japanese TV, to temping, to teaching Pilates. LOLA CARLYLE’S 12 STEP ROMANCE (Entangled/Macmillan May 2015) is Danielle’s YA debut. Danielle also wrote the critically acclaimed adult novel, FALLING UNDER, (Penguin, 2008), published a short story called “Reconciliation” in MODERN MORSELS, a McGraw-Hill Anthology for young adults, in 2012, and her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2005. Danielle lives in an old house in Toronto that’s constantly being renovated, with her husband and two daughters.
Catch up on the other people taking part in the tour!