By Karen Schreck
Wal-Mart, Amazon & Barnes & Noble
One year--he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.
The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war--to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.
I can be an army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all?
Even a Trip to the Grocery Store and a Handful of Long-Lost Photographs
By Karen Schreck
Now Sourcebooks Fire is sharing the story yet again, in a second, exclusive edition, released nation-wide at Walmart. The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work. The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle. I’m truly grateful.
I wonder what my mother would say to this incredible news? I like to think she would be grateful too. I like to think she would be happy. She wanted her story heard after all. So much so that it was one of the last things she told me, just before she died.
One rainy night when I was fourteen, right before cancer left her too ill to talk, let alone drive a car, my mother said, “Come with me. We’re going shopping.” We drove to the little local market and wandered up and down the aisles, as she threw in a can of tuna, some dishwashing soap, and other little things we didn’t need. We paid for these little things. She looked anxious and tired, still she hadn’t said a thing; we hadn’t spoken a word.
It was only when we were parked in our driveway again that my mother said, “I was married once before when I was very young. He died a hero in WWII.”
And that was that. Soon after, she died.
I thought about my mother’s mysterious love story for many years. I talked to relatives, found long-lost photographs. The story took seed in me. It flowered into a novel about a young women whose boyfriend leaves for the Iraq War. In her loneliness, she seeks out a grandmother she’s never met, whose first husband died in WWII. She seeks out a character inspired by mother.
A late night drive, a few words spoken in the dark. Even things as simple as this can inspire a novel.
Karen Schreck is the author of the young adult novel WHILE HE WAS AWAY (Sourcebooks Fire, May 2012), as well as the novel DREAM JOURNAL, which was a 2006 Young Adult BookSense Pick, and the award-winning children's book, LUCY'S FAMILY TREE. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She writes and teaches for a living, and she loves visiting schools and other gatherings of readers and writers to talk about her books the writing process.
For more information or to contact Karen, please visit her blog: karenshcreck.com/blog.