How My Eleven-Year-Old Character Changed My Mind about Traditional Narrative, a guest post by Louise Hawes

I never start with a story. It’s always a character, instead, who persuades me to build a book around them. When Hazel, whose road “handle” is Hazmat and who is the protagonist of my new middle grade novel, BIG RIG, first popped into my head, I knew that if we were going to write a novel together, I’d have a lot to learn: about trucks, drivers, and a whole long-haul culture with which I was totally unfamiliar. What I didn’t dream, though, is that Hazel would refuse to let our book end. That she would reject the whole idea of ​​settling down, finding a permanent home, and bringing our adventures to a close!

And it’s not that Hazel doesn’t know how most books (for both kids and adults) are structured. Her father, Blake, is a former English Lit professor, who’s been home schooling her for the last seven years as the two of them travel coast to coast…to coast …to coast. Which is why my young narrator can throw around terms like plot, rising arc, or resolution with the best of them. But it seems she’d rather throw those ideas out than let them shape her story.