A new middle-grade novel is set in 1991 in a fictional small town on Lake Minnetonka. The author, Emily Blejwas, who grew up in Excelsior, took details from her own experience and some that seemed to come from nowhere, she said, to write ‘Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened.’ It is Blejwas’ third book.
The Sun Sailor had a conversation with the author about her book, which was released April 14.
Sun Sailor: Where did you get inspiration for this story?
Blejwas: All of my stories start out very small, with just an idea. For this one, I wanted to write about a 12-year-old boy who is set apart from his peers somehow. Then I started writing and the details filled in as I went along. Writing is a strange and magical process that way. Some details came from my own experience, some from putting myself in the main character’s shoes and some from out of nowhere. When I talk to kids about writing, I emphasize that living and observing and trying new things are as important as practicing writing, because all of your experiences will fold into your writing.
Sun Sailor: It takes place in a town on Lake Minnetonka, how do you do research for this? Do you visit all the locations you write about?
Blejwas: I grew up in Excelsior and decided to set the book in 1991, so it was just a matter of putting myself back in that space and time. I live in Alabama now, though, so to get the light and color and air right, especially in winter, sometimes I’d pull up images of Lake Minnetonka to remember that atmosphere. I also looked up things like the ice-out date and the North Stars schedule, to get the timing right.
Sun Sailor: Can people anticipate reading about local places they know?
Blejwas: Yes, definitely! I set the story in the fictional town of Wicapi so I could invent details when I needed them; I didn’t want to be confined to the reality of a particular town. But there is much in the story that resembles Excelsior.
Sun Sailor: Without giving away too much, what is this story about?
Blejwas: Justin is a 12-year-old boy grappling with his father’s death, which was both embarrassing and slightly mysterious. The story follows him through seventh grade, as he moves through the challenges of junior high and his own grief and uncertainty. Ultimately, it’s a story of optimism, of the people who get us through, of looking for big things in small places, and of believing there is always more to come.
Sun Sailor: Where can readers find your book?
Blejwas: You can find it at your independent bookstore (bookshop.org) or on Amazon. More information on the book can be found by searching it at penguinrandomhouse.ca.
Follow the Sun Sailor on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor.