Mundie Moms

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Author Guest Post: Diana Renn

Hello & welcome to today's author guest post. I am so excited to have Latitude Zero author, Diana Renn on the blog today! Before she takes it away, here's a little bit about her recently release:

About The Book

Published by: Viking / Penguin Teen
Released on: July 3, 2014
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to GoodReads 

“I have to run,” said Juan Carlos. “You will call? Please? It is very important.” 
“Yes. I will call. Definitely. At two.”

That’s what Tessa promises. But by two o’clock, young Ecuadorian cycling superstar Juan Carlos is dead, and Tessa, one of the last people ever to speak to him, is left with nothing but questions. The media deems Juan Carlos’s death a tragic accident at a charity bike ride, but Tessa, an aspiring investigative journalist herself, knows that something more is going on. While she grapples with her own grief and guilt, she is being stalked by spies with an insidious connection to the dead cycling champion. Tessa’s pursuit of an explanation for Juan Carlos’s untimely death leads her from the quiet New England backwoods to bustling bike shops and ultimately to Ecuador itself, Juan Carlos’s homeland. As the ride grows bumpy, Tessa no longer knows who’s a suspect and who is an ally. The only thing she knows for sure is that she must uncover the truth of why Juan Carlos has died and race to find the real villain—before the trail goes cold.


Getting in Gear
I spent the first years of my life in a house by a bike path. With bikes whizzing by all day, my parents of course had to buy me one. My first was a light blue frame with a banana seat and a plastic basket. Despite the girly details, I named it “Columbus,” and I imagined myself a fierce explorer as I set off on solo journeys to local parks.
My next bike was a silver ten-speed Schwinn, way more sophisticated. Columbus got junked in some nether region of our garage. I received the silver ten-speed not long before my parents divorced. And their divorce had two implications for my bike-riding career.
For one thing, my preoccupied parents were not available to teach me how to ride it effectively. The whole gear-shifting business remained mysterious. The clatter and jerk of the bike chain frightened me. Every time I shifted, I felt like the bike was going to blow apart. I decided that the objective was to find a gear you liked and stay there, so that’s exactly what I did.
Then it turned out both my parents had a thing for hills. My dad lived at the bottom of a steep hill with switchback turns. My mom, my sister and I moved to a house at the top of a hill—a hill so steep even car wheels churned and complained.
Maybe their living choices were all part of a scheme to deter potential boyfriends, making my homes extra hard to reach. Only the determined would attempt the journey.
I don’t know. But I do know that living on hills deterred any serious bike riding on my part. Since I was stuck in a middle gear, I couldn’t ride up these hills. And I was terrified to go down. The effort of walking the bike up and down the hills just so I could find flat ground (rare in Seattle anyway) soon made biking a less frequent occurrence. I also didn’t know how to pump a tire, so when the tires eventually deflated, so did my biking dreams.
Flash forward over twenty years. I meet this really nice guy. We go out a few times. He admits over dinner, somewhat embarrassed, that he happened to sign me up for a two-hundred mile, two-day charity bike ride, to raise money for cancer.
I stared blankly. I might have hyperventilated. I believe a glass overturned.
“It’s just that the registration closes tomorrow,” he hastened to explain as the restaurant kaleidoscoped around us. “And I thought, depending on how things work out – no obligation, of course –you might, I don’t know, want to do the ride with me. And so I had to register you. Otherwise you’d miss the chance.”

After momentary panic, I shrugged it off. Even if we did keep going out, no way was I riding a two-day, two hundred mile bike ride. I hadn’t ridden in two decades. And I only rode in one gear. As he went on to describe the hilly route, I knew I was safe. Yep. I was so not doing that ride.
But more dates led to more, and more. Months passed. The next thing I knew, I had a shiny Cannondale road bike. With twenty-one gears. And I was learning to ride it. On actual roads, not bike paths. On actual hills. And by August that year, I was on that two-hundred mile charity bike ride, the Pan Mass Challenge, which I successfully completed. I went on to do the ride with that guy two more times. And, reader, I married him.
I now see bikes as I once viewed my childhood bike named “Columbus.” As vehicles for exploration. As invitations to adventure, and even to freedom. With multiple gears at my disposal, and all the roads, I can go anywhere on two wheels.
When I started concocting the idea for my bicycling mystery, Latitude Zero, I knew that my heroine, Tessa Taylor, was similar to me in that way. In the beginning of the book, she’s stuck in a particular gear. Tessa is a sleuth, investigating a murder mystery she happens to swerve into. But she’s also a sleuth in her own life, I think, looking for her own sources of strength and finding her own ride. And that’s something any of us can do any time we get on a bike!

About the Author
Diana Renn writes contemporary mysteries for young adults. TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin), an Indie Next Pick, was published in 2012, and her next novel from Viking, LATITUDE ZERO, releases in July 2014. Diana has published numerous short stories and essays, and she is also the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an award-winning online magazine featuring short-form writing for teens. A Seattle native, Diana now lives outside of Boston with her husband and young son.

Find Diana via her: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook