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  • Writer's pictureValerie

A Chat with Becca Wierwille


Road Trip Rescue Cover

 



 

Valerie- Today we are talking with Becca Wierwille, the author of the middle-grade adventure, Road Trip Rescue. Welcome to BookWorthy Becca.


Becca- Thank you, Valerie. I’m so excited to be here.


Valerie- It is a pleasure to have you here. And to start us off, I like to ask a generalized question. And since your book is about a road trip, what had been your favorite road trip as a kid or an adult?


Becca- The one that comes to mind first is a few years ago, my family went to Colorado and we flew to Colorado. We did not drive all the way there. So I’m in Pennsylvania. That would have been a long drive. But once we got there, we drove around. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park and went to Colorado Springs and went to see some cool things there. So that was a lot of fun.


Mountain scene

Valerie- So fun. Well, I’m in Texas and for my kids, I think the most memorable road trip is one where we didn’t leave the state, because most of the time, my youngest, who’s nine now. A couple of years ago, we went to San Antonio. Most of our other family road trips have been out of Texas. We had gone to Florida, Colorado, and Nebraska. And this was our first road trip inside Texas. And he was like, “Are we still in Texas, Mom?” And I’m like yep, we are. He was so confused that we hadn’t left the state.

Texas flag

Becca- That’s funny. You’ve got plenty of states to explore there.


Valerie- Lots of states to explore for sure. Well, tell us a little bit about your book, Road Trip Rescue, which has a road trip as its setting, and a little bit about Kimmy and why this road trip is so important to her.


Becca- Yeah, Road Trip Rescue is a novel for kids about ages 8-12 and it has themes of friendship and faith. And Kimmy is a 12-year-old girl. She’s looking at a magazine one day and stumbles across this photo of a dog, who was her dog that was missing. It’s been missing for two years. And so, this dog meant a lot to her, and she is determined to find him. Of course, her parents don’t want to take her, but she has an aunt who goes on road trips every summer. She convinces her aunt to make the trip to the Adirondack Mountains, which is where she thinks the dog might be, as a stop on this road trip. But her aunt has a lot of stops along the way and the road trip doesn’t exactly pan out the way Kimmy expects.


Valerie- Now, I think the dog’s name is Bo, correct? In the book. Now did you have any special pets in your life growing up?


Becca- Oh, I did. So our first pet that I remember a lot was Barney. So he was a stray dog actually that showed up and we kept, or I can’t remember now, I thought he was a stray, maybe we got him at a shelter when he was young. Then my other dog was Esther and, I named her because I wanted to name her Queen Esther in the Bible. I thought that was a fitting name for a dog. Um, and that’s part of the inspiration for Bo’s name in the book. He’s named after Boaz because Kimmy thinks Boas is Prince Charming of the Bible, so she feels that’s a good name for her dog.


Valerie- Oh, that is so sweet. I didn’t know that little nugget about Bo. So fun. What was the overall inspiration for your book?


Becca- So the inspiration kind of came from two different areas. The first one, my family had been planning a trip to the Adirondack Mountains. And that’s just not too far from here. That’s in upstate New York, we’re in Pennsylvania. And as we were planning for this trip, I was doing some research, trying to find some things to do while we were there. And I found this photo online of a dog eating an ice cream cone. It was from some ice cream shop up in New York that was dog-friendly. And it got me thinking, what if a kid saw that photo and was just convinced that it was their dog that had gone missing?


Ice Cream COne

So the story began to form in my mind of a girl who’s reading a magazine instead of the internet, and stumbles across this photo of her dog that went missing two years ago. Once I had that idea, I kind of had to form the character in my mind too. And inspiration for that, Kimmy was born with a missing part of her right arm. So she has a limb difference and that’s something that I share in coming with her. So I was also born with one arm and I’ve always imagined myself one day writing a story with a protagonist who also has a limb difference. But at first, when I was writing this story, I didn’t necessarily see that would go together. But then as I started thinking more about it, I was like, no, that’s why this matters so much to her. She’s had trouble making friends. She’s had friends who have betrayed her in the past. Some of it is related to her arm. And her dog was always there for her. Dogs don’t care if you have one arm or two. And so she is determined to find this dog who is not just part of her family, but also a dear friend to her.


Valerie- That’s sweet. I love how you’ve pulled in your own experience to this character and made it relatable, not just for anyone with an arm difference but for any kid. Being misunderstood and unseen is a very common struggle for young preteens and teens are having in our social media world. I love that Kimmy is so relatable, no matter what your difference might be, whether an arm difference or a learning disability, which is something in my own family. Now, what was it like to write about some of your own struggles in such a vulnerable and relatable way?


Becca- It was interesting because, while I’m writing, I almost feel like I’m not writing about myself, but yet then as I’m writing down some of her feelings, I think, did I ever feel that way? And I think I was drawing out some feelings that I might have experienced when I was young that I probably didn’t recognize at the time or was not able to identify. So it was this neat ability to start processing my childhood and some of the feelings I’d had, some of the things kids had said to me. Now our experiences don’t like up completely. In the story, Kimmy’s best friend, whom she calls her ex-best friend, betrayed her because she didn’t want to be spending time with someone with one arm. She didn’t want the way that affected her social circles. That never happened to me. I was fortunate to be at a small school where everyone grew up with me. By the time I was Kimmy’s age, most of the kids probably didn’t think too much about it. But I still have kids make thoughtless comments. Some things were challenging that happened, and I do remember that my dog, I would have had Esther around the time I was Kimmy’s age, feeling like I could talk to her about anything. Feeling like she would never judge me for my arm or anything else.


Dog Walker

Valerie- That’s the sweet thing about pets, no matter whether it’s a dog, a cat, or a lizard. There’s a lizard as a pet in my home, hence why I say that. But there is just this, you can be so unguarded with someone you know is going to love you no matter what. It won’t form an opinion and won’t have an agenda. I love that about bringing pets into my kids’ lives. So do you have any pets in your home right now?


Becca- We do. Yes. We have a dog named Georgia. She’s a Beagle and Australian shepherd mix. And actually, she has inspired one of my favorite scenes in the story. So when Georgia was a puppy, she caused quite an accident in my in-law's house. We, my husband and I were away for the weekend. It was Easter weekend and we left her at home and my in-laws put her in the upstairs bathroom when they went to church. They figured that it would be a nice safe place for her. She couldn’t get into any trouble.

When they came home from church, there was water pouring down from the dining room ceiling. She had flooded the bather and it went down through the floor of the upstairs bathroom, down into the dining room. I won’t give too many more details about how it happened, because I borrow that story pretty closely for an experience that Kimmy reflects on Bo having when he was a puppy. So that story is in the book and it’s not the same as it happened but pretty close. So, you’ll have to read the book to find out more about that.



Valerie- I love how your experiences have informed this book and made it so easy to read for young kids. Why did you choose to write for children?


Becca- That is such a good question. So I’ve always loved writing. After I got married, about six years ago, I decided to take it more seriously. And wanted to make that, I wanted to publish something, but I didn’t know what that looked like. And I started writing a lot of different things. I was writing nonfiction and fiction. I was writing fiction in a lot of different genres. It mattered to me to write stories of hope, but it wasn’t until I wrote a story that it was much more directly based on my childhood. It was about a girl with a dog. A girl with one arm now that I think about it, but that story will probably never see the light of day. But after I wrote that story, I felt like I had entered into the voice that I loved and felt like this is what I want to learn more about. So after that, I set that story way aside, way aside, and started learning a lot more about Kidlit and the publishing industry. I think I love writing for the 8-12 age range because the stories that I think back to loving and the ones that still stick with me are the ones that I read when I was that age. And I can still read them now and love them. But there is something formative about those years that these stories carry with you. And I think they can have a special place in your heart.


Valerie- I agree. I think it’s kind of that, not a sense of coming of age, but it’s this flip from being just a kid consuming to understanding what you’re reading. To understand your world in a new and fun way. That’s why those books kind of really hit your heart. Because you’re truly seeing a  story for more than good versus evil or you’re seeing the heart and the meaning between the lines as much as what’s going on in the story. So I love that you’re writing for that particular age range. I have a couple of kids in that age range too. Now did you always want to be an author?


Becca- Yes and no. So when, from the time I was really really young, like probably before I could write, I loved creating stories and I remember in elementary school, I took the late bus, so we’d have to wait in the cafeteria after everyone else had left and wait for the bust to come. I remember other kids would be playing games or talking or whatever. And I’d be sitting


journals

at a table with my purple notebook, writing stories about islands made of candy and talking teddy bears and all these interesting stories. I think at that time I would have said, yes, I want to be an author. And then in middle school and high school, I kind of lost that specific dream because I just didn’t see people doing it. And when we talked about careers and things to do, that didn’t seem like a real possibility to me. It wasn’t one that people talked about. It wasn’t on when we did job shadowing where they were like, oh, do you want to job shadow an author today? So I just wasn’t around it a lot. So it wasn’t until really after college that I started to have that dream again. And not necessarily that I thought it would be the only thing I did, or I wanted it to be the only thing I did, but the fact that I could do it while I was still doing other things because exciting to me. So I think there was like a lull in the middle, but I‘ve always loved to write. And even when that wasn’t a specific dream, writing is like a part of who I am. So I’ve always been writing stories.


Valerie- So fun, I can just picture you sitting in the cafeteria writing in the little purple notebook. Such a sweet picture. Where do you get a lot of your story ideas?


Becca- A lot of them come from either a specific setting or a character, that I experience something in the real world and then it gets me thinking. So Road Trip Rescue, like I said, I was just looking online and saw that picture of a dog eating an ice cream cone and that’s where the story came to me. But I’ve also been in situations where I’ve been at a park and seen a park bench and something about that park bench gets my attention and I start thinking about what if… what if a child came or what if a child was sitting alone on that park bench> Why would they be sitting there? What if they went to this park bench every day at the same time> Why are they doing that? And then I start asking myself, why is this happening> And kind of get deeper and deeper into that story idea. So that’s been how most of them come to me. And a lot of time I’ll just kind of keep a running list of random thoughts and ideas. And sometimes they can come together and sometimes not. But that’s been the main way that I’ve come up with ideas.


Valerie- That’s lots of fun. And I love the childlike attitude you have with asking that question, why, what, when. And I think we all desire to have those answers, but we don’t always take the time to ask the question. I think that what makes writing fun is to ask those questions that we’d want to ask if we took the time to do it right. So, what is your favorite book?

Because of Winn-Dixie Cover

Becca- That’s such a tough question. There are so many books and it depends on what day you’d ask me. I’m sure I’d have a different answer. So the one book I think of because I talked about middle grade and how those books stick with me, Because Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a story that I loved as a kid. I still love it now. It’s a dog story, of course. You can tell I like dogs. But also I loved the characters in the story and I think I carried a similar theme to Road Trip Rescue of not being alone and the characters in there and the community that Opal forms. They stood out to me then, and still stand out to me now. So that is in terms of like a kid’s story that I love, that might be my favorite.


Valerie- That is a very good book. I love that one, and of course, you gotta bring the dog in there. They always are great at honing in on just the heart of a story and making us see things from a good perspective.


Becca- Yeah, I remember being so excited the first time I went to a Winn-Dixie grocery store, and it wasn’t that long ago. Maybe it was in Florida. But I was so excited to walk into this grocery store because I was like, oh, this is in the story. Even though I was an adult it had been a long time since I read the book. I was very excited.


Valerie- I think we always keep those books that impact our hearts close to that inspiration and childlike level. I don’t think we ever lose that joy that those particular books bring to us. Now you have a young daughter in your life, how old is she?


Becca- Yes, she’ll be nine months old soon.


Valerie- What are you reading to her right now?


I Pray You'll Be Cover

Becca- Oh, we’re reading so many books. One of my favorites is I Pray You’ll Be by Hannah C. Hall. That is a really beautiful picture book. It made me cry the first time I read it, which might have had something to do with the fact that it was like the week she was born that I read it to her. But that is a beautiful, beautiful book. I love anything, Max Lucado. You Are Special has always

been a favorite of mine. So we don’t always stick to the board books. We read the small board books too, but we also have been

You Are Special Lucado Cover

reading larger books and she listens pretty well so I’m hoping she’ll be a reader.


Valerie- She’s still young and she can’t run away from you yet. You can read it, whatever you want, as long as you want, because they’re kind of trapped until they start moving. What has been the most impactful book in your life?


Becca- Well, besides the Bible, which would be my immediate and the good Sunday school answer, as Kimmy would call it in the book. The Bible, of course, is living and breathing, every time I read it, I’m getting something different from it. So I love that. But in terms of the impactful, again, it would depend on the day you asked me. One that’s read that I’ve enjoyed and the book that I have gifted a lot is The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry Cover

So that’s nonfiction, but it has a lot to do with rest and with the Sabbath. I tend to be a very busy person by my own doing keep my days very full and like to be productive. I like to have to-do lists and get things done. So that book has been very impactful for me and reminded me to rest, reminding me about the importance of the Sabbath. So I enjoy that book and I think it’s continuing to have an impact on me as I reflect on how I could implement some of it into my life.


Valerie- It’s the hardest thing for a busy mom and writer to say, okay, I need to just wait till. Because a lot of the times when I try to sit still, my mind is like, no, we still have twenty other things to do over here. And I think it’s important for us to take that time. So that sounds like an impactful book that I probably need to add to my TBR list. What are you working on right now?


Becca- Right now I’m working on the sequel to Road Trip Rescue. So the goal is for it to be a trilogy, three books in the series, and Toar Trip, well I don’t have a name for number two yet, but it’s going to be written from the perspective of Kimmy’s friend Daniel. I didn’t originally write this book as part of a series. When I started, I was only thinking it would be one book. But when my beta readers were looking at it, I had several readers who said they would love to see a story from Daniel’s perspective. So I started thinking about what his story would be like. I started thinking about some lies he believed ways that he might go through a transformation and what kind of adventure might be fitting for him. And of course, it has to be another road trip adventure. So Daniel’s story is going to take us out of the country to Guatemala. I’m so excited about that.


Valerie- That does sound exciting. Have you ever been to Guatemala?


Becca- I have been there several times. I had been there for a semester studying abroad in college and after that, I went back for a month to help at an orphanage and then I think I was there two other times besides that just to visit. So I love it. But it’s been a while since I’ve been there. So writing is a little…I’ve been on Google Maps a lot trying to like remember what some of the towns were like and I have a couple of friends who are going to look at it for me to help me with the Guatemala details since they’ve been there more recently.


Valerie- Very neat. I love that it’s again, kind of just a heart thing, a place you have seen, a place that God has led you and encouraged you in reaching out in that area. I look forward to seeing what happens on that road trip. Now are they going from, I can’t remember exactly where Kimmy lives.


Becca- Kimmy lives in central Pennsylvania.


Valerie- That sounds like quite the road trip to Guatemala.


Becca- So they’re not going to drive to Guatemala. They’ll fly there and then they can have their road trip when they get there.


Valerie- It's kind of like your own Colorado trip. What do you hope to communicate to kids who read this book?


Girl Reading

Becca- Well, through this story, I hope kids can come to see that they’re not alone and they never have been, even when they feel like they are alone. That’s something Kimmy comes to see and she sees that God has always been with her, that God has always been listening to her prayers, even when she doesn’t hear him answer, and that he has placed people in her life. He’s given her a community of people who care about her. So I’m hoping kids come to see that. And also we talked a little bit about this, but that they are wonderfully created even in their differences, even in the things they might be insecure about or uncomfortable with, that God has created them that way for a reason. And so that’s something that I hope to communicate through the hall of my books.


Valerie- I love that’s your message of finding beauty and what makes you unique and different and extraordinary. I think that’s what you have on your website. I love that message for kids, especially in the 8-12 range. They’re kind of coming into their own and having to decide what I believe about myself and what are people saying about me. I love that you’re embracing that topic of you’re beautifully and wonderfully made as you are and God has a purpose for you in that. So I'm excited to see what comes next for you. Where can people find out more about your books?


Becca- People can find me on the website at www.beccawiereille.com I know that’s a mouthful. That’s a lot of vowels. You can also go to belovedchronicles.com. That’s my publisher's name, and that’ll also take you right to my website. And if you sign up for my newsletter there, I’ll send you some free short stories and also some character-building conversation cards based on the fruit of the spirit. That could be fun for a road trip or anything else. I’m also on social media at my name beccawiereille.


Valerie- Now quick spontaneous question here. Do you have any road trip plans?


Becca- Well, we just went on one over Labor Day. But that was our daughter’s first longer trip. It was the longest trip we've been on. It took us about eight hours. If it was just my husband and I, it would have taken us probably six. But that was quite an adventure. My daughter does not enjoy long drives at the time of this recording. Hopefully, that will change and we’ll be going out there again. My husband’s family lives in Ohio. Other than that, I don’t think we have any longer trips coming up.


Recommended reading: ROAD TRIP TIPS


Valerie- You gave it a try, and you need a break, right?


Road Trip Dashboard

Becca- Yeah, maybe like every few months we can try one, but we’ll be going away a couple of times like an hour and a half away, but that’s a more doable trip.


Valerie- There you go for a baby that is under one year old. Yes, well too fun. Well, thank you so much for being with us today, Becca.


Becca- Thank you so much for having me, Valerie. I’ve enjoyed our conversation.


Valerie- Me too, and thank you for joining us on this episode of the BookWorthy Podcast. Be sure to tell us in the comments or on social media what has been your most memorable road trip as a kid or an adult.

 

Happy Reading.

 

 


Becca Wierwille Head Shot

Fun Facts About Becca

  • She can unicycle. (Or, at least, she could at one point . . .)

  • She has roasted marshmallows on top of a volcano.

  • She loves spending time in God’s creation. The more, the better.

  • Peach pie is her all-time favorite food. If she had to choose one food to eat for the rest of her life, it would probably be pie (or salad—both have extensive options).

  • She was born with one hand.

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