Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. But this impossible mission starts to look easy in comparison to Matt's other challenge: to swim the 100 yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to man) and impress the gorgeous Kelly West.
And here is the man himself!
“Did those things really happen to you? The things that happened in your book?”
For some reason I am asked this quite a lot. Since my books are based in reality, I suppose it’s a fair question. Although, it’s a very loaded one. Sure, I can admit to having been on the swim team. And yes, my friends and I used to try and create the most disgusting drinks possible by mixing things like chocolate milk and tomato juice together just to see if we could get each other to hurl our lunch all over the kitchen table.
I’ll even confess to having once gone in search of a much-rumored-but-never-completely-verified nude beach. A fantastical place that could only be reached—or so it was told—by walking for miles and miles across scorching hot sands and over countless tick-infested dunes.But once I start admitting to these small truths—things that I expanded and expounded upon in order to ground Matt’s story in believability—it can become a slippery slope. Because, if these things are true, then perhaps other, much more embarrassing things are true as well. And that’s when the questions get more specific and probing:
Did you dress up like a girl and sneak into the women’s locker room?
Did you accidentally soil your pants in front of the girl you had a crush on?
Did your grandfather hit on poor unsuspecting widows at their husbands’ funerals?
The answers, of course, are no, no, and no. But will I be believed? One would hope so, though I sometimes wonder.
This is my writing process, however. Sometimes I will take tiny seeds of reality—be it mine, or my family’s, or my friends’—and then stretch those truths, fictionalizing them beyond recognition, so that they fit the tale that wants to be told.
And so, the real answer to the question, “Did the things in the book really happen?” is, no, nothing happened to me exactly how it happens in the novel. Did I use things that happened to me to spark my imagination? Yes, absolutely.
But did my friends and I actually hide in a closet at a party in hopes of catching a glimpse of a couple having sex?
Next question, please.
BIG MAJOR THANKS to Don for taking the time to write this!! You can read the first chapter of Swim the Fly right here