Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guest Post: Diana Renn on Summer

Author Diana Renn has stopped by IFB with a guest post in promotion of her upcoming novel, Latitude Zero. Check it out below:

18668068Release date: July 3rd 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
“I have to run,” said Juan Carlos. “You will call? Please? It is very important.” 
“Yes. I will call. Definitely. At two.”

That’s what Tessa promises. But by two o’clock, young Ecuadorian cycling superstar Juan Carlos is dead, and Tessa, one of the last people ever to speak to him, is left with nothing but questions. The media deems Juan Carlos’s death a tragic accident at a charity bike ride, but Tessa, a teen television host and an aspiring investigative journalist, knows that something more is going on. While she grapples with her own grief and guilt, she is being stalked by spies with an insidious connection to the dead cycling champion. Tessa’s pursuit of an explanation for Juan Carlos’s untimely death leads her from the quiet New England backwoods to bustling bike shops and ultimately to Ecuador, Juan Carlos’s homeland. As the ride grows bumpy, Tessa no longer knows who is a suspect and who is an ally. The only thing she knows for sure is that she must uncover the truth of why Juan Carlos has died and race to find the real villain—before the trail goes cold.

My Not-So-Adventurous Summers

I’m often asked why I write novels featuring globetrotting teens. People assume I traveled a lot as a teen, or maybe studied abroad. No, and no. I think I write about traveling teens because I was not one myself. And I write about summer adventures in far-flung locales because I never had them. 

So many teens today are on the global circuit, doing volunteer programs, studying languages, or just traveling with family. But traveling abroad was not common when I was a teen in the late 1980s, in a quiet Seattle suburb, in the hush before grunge made my hometown cool. The world was larger then. People still mailed letters. Other countries were colorful shapes on the pull-down maps at school, things to memorize for tests and forget about every summer.

Like many teens in my neighborhood, I spent my summers babysitting and working mind-numbing jobs in the food industry. I also passed time by fighting with my sister, scheming to see friends, shuttling between my divorced parents’ houses, enduring occasional family road trips. I spent time reading, writing, and above all . . . waiting. 

I wasn’t really sure what I was waiting for. But every summer I felt this vague prickling sensation, like something was happening somewhere . . . just not where I was. Not behind the counter at Wendy’s serving up fries. Not bussing tables at the Mocha Tree Restaurant. The days bled into each other. I recently looked back at the journals I kept, and I’m struck by the profound sense of longing I had. I wanted some kind of adventure, something exciting to happen to me. 

There were moments of excitement, to be sure, and even dark intrigue that might have launched me on my eventual path to writing mysteries. One day I got held up at Wendy’s, and had to hand over all the money in the till. Another summer, I got followed home by a lonely man, a typesetter (whatever that was), who would come to the Mocha Tree every day and order a slice of lemon pie. After my mom coolly informed him I was seventeen, and chased him away, I shook for hours. That wasn’t the right kind of adventure. That was a David Lynch movie.

But summer after summer, I kept reading, haunting my local library. I began to gravitate toward fiction set in other countries. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s sumptuously written Love in the Time of Cholera. A lovely slim book called The Census Taker, by Marilyn Stablein, about a girl who fled California and went wandering around India and Nepal. I browsed travel guides. I thought about joining the Peace Corps. By the summer before my senior year, I had a sense there was a wider world out there. I wondered if instead of waiting for adventure to come to me, I could go find it myself. I became determined to travel.

My growing wanderlust was at odds, however, with my minimum wage jobs, and the fact that I did not get a full ride to college and would have to contribute my earnings.

So it was not until after college graduation that I would scrape up the money to travel abroad, on a shoestring budget and a Eurail pass. But my yearning for adventure, cultivated slowly during my long, boring summers as a suburban teen, did lead me to the adventure of going to college on the opposite coast and eventually traveling through Europe on my own. I don’t regret the hours spent dreaming my summers away, though I do regret the passivity. You can have adventures close to home, too, without spending thousands of dollars. You don’t have to wait for life to happen. You can make things happen. With many more summers behind me, I can see that now.

So I write about globetrotting teens because I’m amazed by all the teens who get out there and take on the world. Maybe my books will inspire more kids to study or volunteer abroad. But I also write about globetrotting teens because I know there are still some who, like me, could not have afforded such summer adventures. And I’m writing for the teen that I was, curled up in the library, an adventurous dreamer.

About the Author
Diana Renn is the author of Tokyo Heist and Latitude Zero, both available from Viking/Penguin. Her next book, Blue Voyage, is set for release in 2015 from Penguin. Renn is the author of numerous short stories and essays and also serves as the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an online magazine featuring writing for and by teens. A Seattle native, Renn lives outside Boston with her husband and son. More information can be found on her website,


  1. I always wanted to travel as a teen, but never really did. My husband went to Europe and around the US and I'm still a but envious of his experiences.
    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Drea. I want to do some travelling too :) Hopefully soon.


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