When Erin Cerise steps off her plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, she is focused intently on her mission: do something unique that will erase the mess she made of her life days before her 17th birthday. She’s already lost her swim team captainship, her boyfriend Ben, and her reputation. Her mother is certain studying abroad will regain Erin’s chances of a good future. Once Erin sees her uninspiring host family and city, though, Erin’s not so sure.
Before Christchurch, Erin wasn’t always intense and focused. A mission used to sound like a fun adventure, and the only ivy she cared about was the stuff growing around her grandparents’ back porch at their peaceful Upper Peninsula home. When had her priorities gone upside down?
Now Erin balks at NZ’s scratchy school uniforms, cold houses, and her hosts’ utter inability to pronounce her name correctly. Christchurch does boast amazing rock climbing, gorgeous scenery, and at least one guy who could make her forget Ben if she lets him. With months ahead of her, Erin slowly begins to draw on the years behind her, one step back into her memories and then another, as she rebuilds her life from the other side of the world to find that when life turns your world upside down and you’re farthest from home, every way you move takes you closer to where you came from.
“In here!” Jade pulled Erin into a gymnasium.
They sat on the floor, and Jade said, “How are you finding New Zealand?”
“Still jet lagged,” Erin said.
“True kiwi lunch here, want some?” Jade held out a plastic container of brown and grey food.
“Every time someone mentions kiwi, I picture fuzzy green fruit,” Erin said.
“Aye, we’ve got kiwi fruit, too. This is bangers and mash.”
“Funny, isn’t it? Last night, Felicity asked whether I liked—whether I fancied—kumara. An orange vegetable. Not a carrot. Soft in the middle when cooked, but not a squash. Then she served it and it was a sweet potato.”
“Kumara are my favorite in winter.”
“Yeah. My grampa used to make them with brown sugar and cinnamon. I love them, so you see how off-kilter I feel. Same cars, but yours are smaller. And slower. Everything is a little slower. We speak the same language, to an extent. But sometimes? I have no idea what people are saying. And sometimes, words have entirely different meanings. At home, biscuits are small, fluffy, buttery breakfast breads. What you call biscuits, we call cookies.”
“Sounds delicious, either way,” Jade said.
Outside, a circle of guys bunched up over the rugby ball, pushing hard but not moving in any particular direction. “Aren’t words funny?” she said. “I once met a girl at a resort in North Carolina—that’s actually in the southern part of America—and she and I realized when a Chicago native says she skis, she means skiing in snow. But we also go water skiing.
“In the south, though, where it’s warm, skiing means water. And they call the other kind snow skiing.”
“Here, of course, the North Island is the warm part, and we get the cold down here,” Jade said. “One of us is upside down.”
“Yeah. It’s definitely me.”
I was born in Trumbull County, the only square county in Ohio, where books were my favorite means of escaping an unhappy childhood. Writing was my transparent attempt to create the things I craved: big happy families, international adventures and unconditional friendship. From a young age, I was drawn to people’s stories, and I still want to know how you met your best friend or fell in love with your partner.
In high school, I embraced my inner geek and wrote my first novel. In college, there were short stories and still more novels. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in English, with concentrations in critical theory and creative writing.
Full-time work sapped my creative brain for several years, but my professional life was one of reinvention. In state government, business management consulting, and nonprofit fundraising, I adapted easily and absorbed the languages of different professions. My last paying job was as an independent fundraising consultant for nonprofit organizations. That was seven years ago.
Since then, I have been writing and traveling (and, let’s be honest, chasing down small people who don’t like to wear clothes). I’ve traveled to all 50 states and dozens of other countries, always collecting pieces of characters and ideas for stories. I recently spent a year on sabbatical in Christchurch, New Zealand, where I may have left my heart at Ilam School. Now that we’ve settled back in the States, I’m writing for adults and young adults, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and baking like a fiend. (You’d thinking baking would be the same everywhere, but it’s not. Something is different about kiwi butter.)
When an idea strikes, I scrawl sweeping plot outlines, character idiosyncrasies, and ideas for scenes on the nearest blank spot of paper. My current manuscript was born of those torn slips of paper, used envelopes, lollipop wrappers, fuel receipts and–once–that little paper bit that keeps a nursing pad sticky until it’s time to use it. My manuscripts are better than the quality of papers where they began. Promise.
Outside of writing, I am a tabletop game enthusiast, passionate skier, and lover of prime numbers. I also am a mentor at the Moving Words Writing Clinic, and a freelance copyeditor.
I live in Seattle with my husband and three growing children.
3 winners will receive an ARC of ANTIPODES (when they are available in January 2018), US Only.