How handy is this? Today is brought to us by the letter D!! Which means I can pull off a super-smooth segue and mention my new, soon-to-be-released book, Deadpoint. This will be my third in the Orca Sports series of novels for reluctant teen (tween) readers and (conveniently, given this series of posts all relate to climbing), it’s set in the world of – yes, climbing.
It’s not the first time that an obsession of mine has made it into a book. The StableMates series of novels all have to do with horses and riding and kids having adventures with their equine companions…
In the Tarragon Island novels there are some sailing references and in Down to Earth I wrote quite a bit about my farm and local food production…
In Deadpoint, three teenagers find themselves stranded on the side of a mountain when their leader is knocked unconscious by rockfall. As with all my books that blend fiction and reality, I drew on personal experience in various places in the book – people who know me well will recognize my fear of falling, my reluctance to crawl out of my sleeping bag at night when nature calls, and my interest in the street art versus graffiti debate. There are also various Fabio-isms sprinkled throughout the book (my favourite being, “You can’t fall off if you don’t let go.”)
The title, Deadpoint comes from a particular moment in the story when the kids have to climb past the crux on a pitch that requires them to have faith and launch upwards as they reach for a handhold. In climbing parlance, deadpoint refers to the moment at the top of one’s upward dynamic move (it’s a bit easier to imagine a basketball player at the very top point of a layup) when one appears to be suspended in the air (and not because you are hanging from your rope). It’s the moment just before gravity reclaims you and drags you down.
It’s the moment just before gravity reclaims you and drags you down.
In climbing, it’s the moment when you can let go of the hold below and reach up for the hold above. Timing, balance, and nerves all have to come together for dynamic moves like this to work out in your favour and, of course, for those of us (Ayla in the book, me in real life) with fear of falling issues, it can be pure awfulness to leap and reach and trust that things will work out ok.
One of the things I love about writing fiction is the trauma I can inflict on the characters in my books. I sure had fun tormenting everyone in this novel! There are head injuries and a broken leg, friendship troubles, climbing challenges and near hypothermia. There are also snuggles and bonding and finding ways to dig deep and get through nasty situations, so it’s not all grim.
Unfortunately, in all the gazillions of climbing photos I have I don’t have a single one that shows a deadpoint moment. By nature, that moment is fleeting – gravity doesn’t have a whole lot of patience.
(** I was also going to add some tips on nailing drop knees… but maybe I’ll hang onto drop knees for the letter K)