Friday, December 11, 2009

Searching for the “Vanished”

My book Vanished: True Stories of the Missing is newly available, and with a slightly different subtitle than shown here:

As of now, the book is available in one of two ways: by ordering via the Scholastic Book Club or by simply calling Scholastic directly. (If it does well, it may then become available in stores.)

I’m told that these are the three book clubs in which it will be offered to start:
  • The Arrow (grades 4-6), January 2010, which shipped to schools in early December
  • The “special offer” history-themed catalog, January 2010
  • The TAB (grades 6-9), March 2010
To order directly:
  • Call Scholastic at 800-724-6527, push prompt 3, then prompt 1.
  • Using a credit card, order item #514472; price $4.95.
  • Wait by your mailbox nibbling on your nails.
The 118-page book consists of seven true and often terrifying text-only stories. Here's how I found family members and other key figures mentioned in each (to send them a copy):

Erica Pratt, second grader—“Escape from the Basement”

The event occurred in 2002, so Erica is now roughly 14 years old, and still in Philadelphia. She lives with her grandmother, whose name is somewhat common. I couldn’t quickly find a phone number for her grandmother so I searched for other relatives with less common names. I found one—a cousin—on Facebook. He kindly gave me an address to send a copy. Erica’s grandmother has been contacted enough times about this that she chose not to speak with me directly, which I understand. However, through the cousin, the grandmother did thank me for the book. I also sent a copy to a kind woman I quoted; she said Erica would be an inspiration to others. I found her on Facebook.

Percy Fawcett, explorer—“The Real Indiana Jones”

Percy disappeared in 1925, the story in the book that dates back the furthest. Even though I’m sure there are descendants, I didn’t invest the time to try to find them.

Grant Hadwin, woodsman—“The Golden Tree Killer”

John Vaillant, author of the compelling The Golden Spruce, kindly told me the city where Grant’s ex-wife was living, last he heard. (She and Grant had divorced about six years before he disappeared.) A search of the Canadian white pages instantly confirmed she’s still there. I left a message, figuring I would not hear back. But she did return my call and was most kind. I also sent a copy to the Council of the Haida Nation, since the Haida people play a prominent role in the story.

Henry Grimes, musician—“Play That Song Again”

He was the easiest. He has a site and I’d already contacted him through it during my research. His manager kindly vetted my draft for accuracy. I also sent a copy of the book to Marshall Marrotte, the man whose impressive detective work led to him being the one who rediscovered Henry after more than 30 years.

Everett Ruess, nature lover—“I Leave No Trace”

Luckily for me, Everett’s story made the news this summer—75 years after he disappeared. Bones had been discovered which matched certain traits of Everett’s. However, after testing, the family learned that the bones are not his. I found the family spokesperson (whose name was in some of the articles) on Facebook.

Hannah Klamecki, kindergartner—“Very Harder Than I Thought”

Her father is a pastor and I reached him via his church. At the same time, I found her mother on Facebook. They have kindly reported that Hannah (now about seven) was thrilled to see her name in a book. I spoke with her father. He's the first person I've written about (in a work already published) whom I've then spoken to. (Most I've written about so far were gone before I started.)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, aviator/author—“Pilot, Poet, and Prince”

He’s the most famous name in the book so this is not his first time. For that reason, and because I believe most of his family is in France, I didn’t do more than e-mail the (French language) site dedicated to him. I haven’t heard back. But I didn’t write in French. C’est la vie.

my cousin—"About the Author” (last page)

Read this to learn the “Vanished” story from my family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this blog is really worth the time that I took to read it - and I hope that I get the book Vanished.