I have just completed Brendan’s Extraordinary Assignment,a middle grade novel.
Brendan’s Extraordinary Assignment
Set in present day Ireland, thirteen-year-old Ryan discovers that the inexplicable actions of a wild dolphin are not by accident. In the process, both Ryan and the destiny of his town are profoundly changed.
Why I wrote it
A story always has a beginning. Not only what is revealed to the reader, but a seed where the story idea is born. Brendan’s Extraordinary Assignment began over twenty years ago. At that time, I wasn’t looking for a story. I was just walking through my life. I never knew my Irish grandmother. The photograph I have of her shows a young woman in her twenties with dark hair and deep set eyes. She fled Ireland in the early nineteen hundreds and ended up in New York. She worked as a nurse at the Mary Immaculate Hospital in New York City, and met my grandfather there. They had a child, my father. When Dad was four years old, she died of Tuberculosis.
Dad never remembered his mom, but knew that she had come from a small fishing town in Ireland called Dingle. Somehow, through a family member in the U.S. Dad contacted his cousin in Ireland. We flew to Ireland and met his cousin who was “the spitin’ image” of my dad. From there we went to the house where his mother, my grandmother lived as a child. It was a moment to remember forever. His eyes bright with tears Dad absorbed the scene in amazement, knowing that his mom had lived under the same roof years and years ago.
Dingle is a fishing town with winding cobblestone streets and more pubs than anyone can count. Situated on a beautiful bay on Ireland’s southwestern coast, National Geographic Traveler once called it “the most beautiful place on earth”. One of the most amazing things about Dingle is that in 1985 a lone wild dolphin arrived in the bay and is still there. The dolphin who they call Fungie has changed the destiny and future of the town.
I took all this home with me and let it simmer. I didn’t want to forget my grandmother, and couldn’t forget this unusual dolphin. Finally, I returned and once again consulted with my Dad’s cousin and his family learning more about the past and the problems that still show up in the economy, along with the changes in the fishing industry.
I decided to write a story. One that described the ruggedness of the fishermen of the Irish coast. I wanted the story to be in the present, highlighting economic problems and changes in the fishing industry. I pictured the main character as a boy whose mother had died, and was left with a father unwilling to give his son the love he needed. As the boy struggles to understand the effects of a failing economy on his life, he searches for a way to save a wild dolphin threatened by the very plans that could rescue his town from disaster. Once I had all the components, I began writing Brendan’s Extraordinary Assignment.