When sixteen-year-old Robbie Daniels leaves Port Protection, Alaska, for the nearby fishing town of Craig, king salmon season is less than forty-eight hours away from starting without him. The few salmon fishermen who can afford to hire help have already found their deckhands, and time is running out on Robbie's dream of fishing the open ocean for kings.
A tip from a teacher puts Robbie on the trail of a legendary captain named Tor Torsen, but when Robbie boards Tor's fishing troller without permission, he happens upon a piece of Russian history that Tor would do just about anything to hide. Then Tor surprises Robbie by hiring him on, but for reasons darker than Robbie ever could guess.
Catching king salmon from dawn till dusk, Robbie thinks himself lucky -- until he discovers his captain's true intentions. Tor is searching along the coastline for historic metal plaques buried by early Russian explorers laying claim to Alaska. When Robbie finds out how valuable these possession plaques are, he fears he may know too much to survive. Tor's wrath and a violent storm at sea put Robbie's courage and wits to the ultimate test.
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Will Hobbs is the author of fifteen novels for upper elementary, middle school and young adult readers, as well as two picture book stories. Seven of his novels, Bearstone, Downriver, The Big Wander, Beardance, Far North, The Maze, and Jason's Gold were named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Far North was selected by the ALA as one of the "Top Ten" young adult books of 1996, and Ghost Canoe received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1998 for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Will's books have won many other awards, including the California Young Reader Medal, the Western Writers of America Spur Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Colorado Book Award, and nominations to state award lists in over thirty states. A graduate of Stanford University and former reading and language arts teacher, Will has been a full-time writer since 1990. He lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado. In His Own Words...
"Readers often ask me, "What made you want to write in the first place?" That's easy for me to answer: It was because I loved reading. If you like reading stories, you too might start thinking, I want to try that. I want to write a story!
"I grew up in an Air Force family. We lived in Pennsylvania, Panama, Virginia, Alaska, northern California, southern California, and Texas. I have three brothers and a sister. While we were living in Alaska, I fell in love with mountains, rivers, fishing, baseball, and books. Books I read on my own were always the best part of school for me. I was always going on adventures in my imagination.
"We moved from Alaska to California when I was halfway through fifth grade. I roamed the hills almost every day after school, and in the summers I went backpacking in the Sierras. After graduating from Stanford University, I moved to southwestern Colorado, where my wife, Jean, and I now make our home. We do lots of hiking in the nearby San Juan Mountains. You won't be surprised to learn that I was a reading teacher for many years before I became a full-time writer.
"About half of my ideas for stories come from life experiences, and the other half come from reading, as I learn more about whatever has sparked my interest. In the Grand Canyon one year, we met some rafters from Canada who told us about a remote river they loved called the Nahanni. I found a book on it, and we soon found ourselves heading way up into northern Canada, hiring a bush pilot, and flying in to the Nahanni. A thirteen-day trip on our raft led to months of fascinating reading about the land and people of the Northwest Territories. The result was Far North, set on the Nahanni.
"Learning to write well is like learning to play a musical instrument or a sport. It takes practice and dedication. My big breakthrough was learning to write with the five senses. In the world of the story, both writer and reader are imagining what it's like to be someone else, so you want to let the reader hear, see, taste, touch, and smell what your characters are experiencing.
"When I'm starting a new story, it takes a lot of faith. I'm like a woodcarver staring at a block of wood. It helps me to remember how, in the story of Pinocchio, that block of wood turned into a real boy. If you just keep working, you'll reach a point when the story starts coming to life. That's what a writer lives for! From that point on, you're hearing conversations in your head, you're seeing things happen, and you're just writing it all down."
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