Thursday, June 20, 2019

"Last Bus to Everland"

Sophie Cameron was born in the Scottish Highlands and studied French & Comparative Literature at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived in France, Canada, Germany and now lives in Barcelona with her wife.

Cameron applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Last Bus to Everland, and reported the following:
Last Bus to Everland has two settings: one is Everland, a magical dimension that the main character, Brody Fair, visits every Thursday night with his friends; and the other is modern-day Edinburgh, where Brody lives in a cramped apartment with his parents and siblings. Brody’s dad has agoraphobia as a result of PTSD and rarely leaves the building. On page 69 of the book, Brody is looking back at how his father’s condition began after waking up from a short coma caused by a vicious attack:
But then I remember Mam rushing into our bedroom to tell us that Dad had woken up. I remember the car ride to the hospital in our pajamas, and that giddy mix of relief and joy and nerves when we arrived to find him sitting up, bruised and bandaged but smiling. It was in the papers and all: “Brave Father Makes ‘Miracle’ Recovery after Intervening in Leith Attack.”

I thought that was it. I thought Dad was better, that everything was back to normal. But when he walked through the front doors of the hospital the following week, before we’d even reached the car, he had a panic attack.

Doesn’t sound like much when you say it like that. It doesn’t sound the way I remember it: Dad gasping for breath, eyes wide and face pale, clammy hands tugging at his collar as if his clothes were suffocating him. It doesn’t sound like the horror in his face, or the fear that seeped out of him and snatched my own breath away. It doesn’t sound like Keira crying, or Jake asking over and over what was wrong.
In many ways, this page isn’t particularly representative of the novel as a whole: there is no sign of the magic here that Brody discovers when he’s taken to Everland. But on the other hand, it does show some of the challenges of the difficult (and occasionally dangerous) real world that Brody lives in, and his love for his family. Brody finds his father’s condition frustrating and unfair, but he’s always empathetic. He understands that it’s a real disability and that his dad is doing his best.

Despite being a fantasy novel, the family dynamics are really the heart of Last Bus to Everland. Brody’s home life isn’t always easy: his father’s disability means he can’t work, his mum is struggling to make up the hours, and Brody is caught between his genius older brother and his attention-seeking younger sister. He doesn’t feel seen or understood, but he loves them regardless. When the doors to Everland begin to close, he’s forced to choose between the magical dimension (and Nico, the boy he’s fallen in love with there) and his family – and it’s not an easy decision at all.
Visit Sophie Cameron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue