Having successfully published The Bear I am often asked “how does one go about writing a book?” In my case it started years ago when my children were young. Traveling in the car or at home on the weekends I would often tell them stories. Stories which I made up though they were often based in part on my own real-life experiences as a youth. As my girls grew older they used to tell me “Dad, you should write that story down so it could be shared with other kids.”
My girls are now grown women with children of their own and over the years, as I retold some of my stories to my grandchildren they would comment, “Dad we still think you should write it down.” So, The Bear is a response to that exclamation.
The Bear, a product of my imagination, populated by made-up personalities, is based on an experience I had as a boy during the summer between the 5th and 6th grades of elementary school. My grandparents owned a resort in the Cascades Mountains and during that summer my cousin and I, also a twelve year old, took it upon ourselves one day, rather than attending to our chores, to explore a nearby heavily wooded hill which was locally called Bear Mountain. Like Will the book’s main character in The Bear, my cousin and I were very wood and nature-wise young men. In climbing to the top of Bear Mountain we observed many of the scenes described in The Bear, including as we neared the top, signs that a bear or bears had been in the area. But, exhibiting a youthful, know-it-all attitude, we proceeded to the top of the hill.
The scene described in the book of Will, Jaime and Petey pushing and throwing logs and limbs down the cliff actually occurred though the boys were my cousin and myself. During the process I went around the big stump and came face-to-face with the bear. The shocking visions of the encounter and what went through my mind are graphically described in The Bear. The images of that encounter, which actually occurred, have never been completely erased from my mind. Standing three feet from a very large black bear in the middle of the forest is something one never forgets. The fastest escape route was down the face of the cliff which is the route my cousin and I took. We left the mountain top as fast as we could and the bear reinforced its ownership with a growl or two as we exited the area as quickly as we could.
Having spent a number of years as the principal of a grade three through six elementary school I am well aware of the stories youngsters that age like to read. Therefore, with encouragement from my daughters coupled with my experience as a principal, I sat down in my retired years and wrote The Bear.
Readers of The Bear will note that it addresses some elementary moral values. Just as when I used to tell the stories to my daughters, in The Bear I attempted to stress that there are right and wrong ways to do things, there are right and wrong ways to present oneself and a person’s word is their bond. The reader of The Bear will note that Will, the main character, recognizes at the end of his scary adventure that he had failed to live up to the standards of keeping one’s word and not promoting one’s self image beyond that which is deserved. I believe the lessons learned by Will are readily understood by the youthful readers and can be a valuable lesson in how they should comport themselves.