Author: Cameron Glenn
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 366 pages
Release Date: August 10, 2015
Delano Farnsworth is one of the few ‘lucky unfortunates’ chosen to receive an invitation to the magical Camp Hollyhook. After he arrives, however, he quickly discovers that not is all as it seems. With his new camp friends the ‘quirky’ Jackie, the ‘dour’ Lenore and the ‘lonely’ Wheeze, Delano seeks to uncover the sinister true purpose of the camp, as well as learn about his missing parents who abandoned him when he was three, his kidnapped uncle as well as his own self and destiny.
AUTHOR INFORMATION & LINKS
Cameron Glenn grew up the third of seven children in Oregon. As a child he dedicated hours to the pursuits of basketball and cartooning, as well as waking up way too early for his paper route in order to earn money to buy toys, candy and comic books. He also loved to read and write, which he continues to do voraciously. He currently lives in Salt Lake City after having earned a BA in literature from Boise State.
How I came up with the idea for “Delano in Hollyhook”.
I had finished my first attempt at a children’s novel called “The Glow Worm Gang” and queried it to lit agents and publishers. I had hope for it, as I had more fun writing it than anything I had written in a long time and I thought it original and imaginative. I’ve developed a tough skin and healthy perspective about writing, yet still when the polite rejections boomeranged back they stung a bit more than usual, leaving me in a bit of a discouraged and morose headspace for a little while.
It was in this mood that I came across two letters by one of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald which he wrote to his niece Frances about her story, in 1938. They’re excellent written letters, of course, full of tough love, good advice and quotes, one being:
“Nobody ever becomes a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before…”
This quote is a variation of his more famous quote: “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” Such sentiments have become a bit of a cliché since Fitzgerald’s time, but the truth of it impacted me. I wanted to give writing a children’s, or “young adult fantasy” novel another try, and it should be about something I feel and care about deeply.
I’m not usually a morose person, and I think the best writing is light and vibrant, but what I was feeling most profoundly in that moment was a sense of loneliness. It is a universal feeling everyone, even kids, and maybe especially teens, can relate to. I decided to make loneliness one of the themes of Delano. The theme came before the characters and plot development.
Looking back, it does seem a bit strange that this was the genesis of Delano, as “loneliness” might not seem as a major or obvious theme, yet I do think that it is there underneath everything: not “loneliness” perhaps, as the desire to belong, to have friends, to find yourself, your purpose, and your true identity; the desire not to be lonely, and then ultimately to accept loneliness as a sacrifice to a greater purpose.
That’s a pretty deep read though, and it’s my belief and hope that a reader will still enjoy “Delano in Hollyhook” without picking up on that interpretation or coming up with their own. I do believe, in the case with this novel anyways, that a reader’s interpretation is just as valid as the authors.
As for the plot and characters: a lot of brainstorming and trial and error went into the planning. At first Delano was a time traveler in an organization tasked with preventing famous assassinations throughout history. I still think that idea may not have been a bad one, just, going back to the Fitzgerald quote, I didn’t feel I had the passion to develop it further than I did, although I did waste some pages and time struggling with it. I came up with the name “Delano” after watching the great Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt’s, and thinking “Delano” a great heroic game that has really been underused. This was before I found out there was a casino in Las Vegas called “The Delano”. Still, I think it’s a good name.
In my brainstorming I wondered what some familiar themes in popular children and Young Adult novels were. Two that jumped out to me were: orphans and the groupings or ‘sorting’ of young people. I wondered what it was about these two tropes that so resonated with young readers, and then decided that I would try to use those tropes as well, but in a way that subverted and commented on them, rather than simply trying to follow a trend and be a part of a cliché. So that is where the ideas of Delano being (or considering himself as) an orphan came from, as well as the sorting of the campers of Camp Hollyhook into types.
For the plot much of the inspiration came from mashing up the “Pleasure Island” aspect of Pinocchio with the “forgetting their moms” Lost Boys of “Peter Pan.” The idea that the longer one is submerged in a fantasy, the more one forgets “the real world” is an interesting one to me. Trying to imagine the story as both a video game and a movie (and sometimes even a Broadway musical) also served as goals and inspiration in the plot. In the beginning stages, I was visited by my twin sister and her two daughters Jane and Emma, ages ten and twelve, and I bounced ideas off of them, which was really fun. I just got an e-mail from my sister saying her daughter had just read it and gave it “two thumbs up” which made me happy and feel like anything else that happens with “Delano in Hollyhook” now will be added gravy (although of course I do want it to be as successful as it can be).
****Age fourteen, the age of a high school freshman, in the United States, is a strange age to make a protagonist. Not many novels revolve around someone that age, which is one reason why I wanted to try it. However, one reason that it’s such a rare age to write about is the perception that elementary and middle grade readers don’t want to read about a character that “old” and older teen readers, although just as prone to nostalgia and indulging their inner child as any adult, don’t usually hold a fondness for the awkward stage they lived in during their freshman year.Being a Protagonist as a High School Freshman
However, it was this awkwardness, this ‘time between child and fully formed teen-adult’ that I wanted to explore, and which I thought best fit the story and themes of “Delano in Hollyhook.” The transition from middle school to high school is a transition between two different worlds: from childhood to self-aware teenage being, from being at the top of the class, the top of the pyramid, the ones the other children in school look up to, to reverting back to the bottom of the pyramid, the ones the cool seniors at school scoff at. Also, of course, the various stages of puberty those of that age are transitioning through, or recently transitioned through, gives a sense of ‘entering into a new world’.
In the case of Delano, he not only symbolically or metaphorically crosses into a “new world” but he does so literally. Once inside Camp Hollyhook he finds that he is among the oldest campers, just beating the cutoff date of what the camp still considers “a child”. However, being among the oldest he feels a greater sense of responsibility and protection than the younger, more trusting campers do, which dictates his actions. In a sense he acts as a knowing spy, having crossed into an age of skepticism and awareness that children who believed in Santa Clause not as long ago have not yet crossed into. He’s young enough to be sent to a fantasy camp yet old enough to feel and accept adult type pressures resulting from being among the oldest. To my mind the in-between age of fourteen was the best age where one could simultaneously pass as a child yet be able to potentially accept and fulfill adult type pressures. That age also allowed for the hints of awkward pseudo crushes which I also wanted to write about. Besides, since everyone is, will be, or has been age fourteen, why can’t there be a fourteen year old protagonist?
Soundtrack to "Delano in Hollyhook".
Here are some of the favorite songs of the characters from "Delano in Hollyhook."
Lenore Nevermore is put into the "dour" group at the camp. She has a dry sense of humor and mostly likes moody rock music from bands like "The Smith's" and "Radiohead" as well as Lana Del Rey.
The Smith's: "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" is one of her favorites:
People really should be more sensitive, she thinks. Although the last refrain "I've seen that happen in other's people's lives..." will no longer apply to her after her experiences in Camp Hollyhook.
She also really likes the song "PDA" by "Interpol".
The song makes her think of Delano and Hollyhook because of the pulsating beat and the lyrics about deserting ordinary life, there being "a last winner" and the suggestion that maybe it was all a dream.
Sometimes Lenore just likes to trance out and escape the world and the song "Spring Hall Convert" by "Deehunter" helps her to "go so far away...":
Lenore spends a lot of time listening to music, which is why she has the most songs on this playlist. She thinks "Here's where the story ends" by "The Sunday's" is nearly perfect:
Jackie Patakie was classified as a "Quirk" at camp, and going by her musical tastes she would certainly qualify.
She loves the Icelandic singer Bjork, especially her earlier stuff. The song "Delicious Demon" is a spazzy frenetic weird song from Bjork's teen punk band "The Sugarcubes", that also may hint at a secret which Jackie is hiding.
Jackie also loves French electronic music from bands like "Daft Punk." She always requests "Kelly Watch the Stars" during the bubble cave rave parties, because she loves dancing to it while pretending her name is "Kelly". The song reminds her to remember her ultimate goal, despite her impulse to become distracted and scatterbrained.
But her all time favorite dance song is "One More Time" by Daft Punk. Celebrate!:
Thug the Slug was classified into the "Angries" at camp Hollyhook. He likes songs that have men screaming in anger. He really likes "The Pixies", especially their "I got something against you!" song. Although, that might not be a great song to share with other kids because it ends with a bad word. "Velouria" by the Pixies is a nicer sounding song about a magical place far away:
Delano was either too busy or too hard to get a hold of to share some of his favorite songs, but this Paramour cover of the Foo Fighter's "Hero" is a good song for him. Lenore says once while listening to it and thinking of Delano it almost made her cry (but what does that mean really?)
Wheeze says he doesn't think that he's cool or knows enough to want to include any songs, but adds that he likes most of the songs already listed.