In Hit the Ground Running, sixteen-year-old Dee and her seven-year-old brother, Eddie, have been on their own for six weeks. Their father has seemingly vanished into the baking Arizona desert. Their money is drying up and the rent is coming due, but it’s a visit from a social worker and the prospect of being separated from Eddie that scares Dee enough to flee. She dupes her brother into packing up and embarking on the long road trip to Canada, their birthplace and former home. Lacking a driver’s license and facing a looming interrogation at the border, Dee rations their money and food as they burn down the interstate in their ancient, decrepit car.
What planning and research did you do for you book?
This book sat in my mind for many years. We had relatives in Arizona, so our family made the loooong trip down many summers. Then one trip, I got serious and started making notes, detailing the trip.
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
I love nearly every part about it. I love creating something, then batting it over to the reader like a balloon, and them connecting with it and interpreting it according to their imagination. It’s magical! It’s also satisfying to give voice to the characters that walk into my head and demand to be written about. Plus, I just love that when you write children’s lit, you get to interact with the kids!
What’s your favorite movie or TV show? The show you binge watched the fastest?
Not a binge-watcher (I don’t have the time!), but I love period dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
Chocolate. I’ve had a life-long love affair with chocolate. Never eat candy, but chocolate gets me every time.
What do you admire most in a book?
Honest, believable characters. If the characters are great, the book always works.
You’re stranded on a desert island and are allowed 3 books—which do you choose?
Too hard! Nope, can’t pick only three. What sort of deity would allow only three?
What’s your favorite genre to read? To Write? What draws you to it?
I always really like a good, classic murder mystery from the 1930s-1950s. Favorite genre to write is probably middle grade. I love middle grade because the deadening effect of being cool hasn’t set in yet, there’s still an innocence to it, and there’s so much scope for humor.
What has been your most unlikely adventure?
I’m a pretty organized traveler (Ziploc bags and hand sanitizer, anyone?), but I got seriously lost in a jungle in Thailand when the tide came in and cut me off from the rest of the island. Always respect the ocean, kids.
What is your favorite book from your childhood?
I learned to read on Arty the Smarty (a book about a small fish who swims against the school and hoodwinks various aquatic predators. That Arty, what a fish!), but I also loved The Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Hit the Ground Running is available now.
Alison Hughes writes for children of all ages, and her books have been nominated for numerous awards. Alison also volunteers at the Centre for Family Literacy and does frequent presentations at schools, libraries and young-writer conferences. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with her husband and three children. For more information, visit www.alisonhughesbooks.com.