So, okay, I’ve never written a blog post before – or anything besides homework, come to think of it – but here goes.

My name’s Bailey Johnson, and I’m kind of the main character in an upcoming novel, Mailboat. Which is weird, ‘cuz I’ve never been a main anything before.

But a little about me … I guess the big thing is, I’m a mail jumper. Where I live in Lake Giovanna, you can get your mail delivered by boat, if your house is on the lake. We have this big tour boat, and we board about 150 passengers every morning, and we take them with while we deliver the mail.

Mail Jumper on the Lake Geneva Mail Boat

Neill Frame and Fiona McCarter delivering mail on board the U.S. Mailboat, Lake Geneva, WI. Photo by Danielle Hanna.

My job is to get the mail from the boat to the mailbox on the pier. And with such a big boat and so many deliveries to make every day, we can’t exactly pull up at every pier. So … I jump. While the boat cruises past. And then I have to jump back on before it’s gone. The tourists love it.

I don’t exactly hate it, either. Kinda the coolest thing that ever happened in my life. FYI, I have no idea how I qualified for the job, considering that this is me we’re talking about. Walking down the sidewalk is usually a hazard.

I’m also in high school, and saving up for college. Not a clue what I wanna study. I just really, really want to go to college, ‘cuz … I don’t know.

‘Cuz I guess I wanna believe I’m not gonna be a total failure. I mean, that’s what you hear a lot of people say. You know. About us foster kids.

Like, here I am, sixteen, still “available.” Thing is, nobody wants to adopt a sixteen-year-old. Babies are cuter, and teenage foster kids are “at risk.” If you’re a teenager in foster care, apparently you’re just expected to be doing drugs and flitting in and out of juvenile detention.

So, I have, like, two goals in life: get adopted and go to college.

I’ve kinda given up on the first one. But still saving up for the second.

I decided a while ago that I’d like to write a book about my life – which is bonkers, ‘cuz, like, what teenager writes a memoir?

Anyway, point is, the idea wouldn’t go away. Where I live in Story World, some of us characters get the notion that we’d like to have a novel written about ourselves – and somehow, that idea got stuck in my head.

So the first point of business was to find an author who could do the job. I started hanging out at some online groups for story characters, looking for advice, and this guy named Ian Hunter said he thought that his author, Danielle Hanna, would be perfect for my story. He’s been working with her since she was, like, even younger than me. He said the two of us had a lot in common, which would make her perfect for the job.

So, I got over my nerves and sent Danielle my story idea. I’d never done something like that before, and it’s really bizarre. You actually get inside the author’s head and just … show them your story. Yeah. Kinda creepy. I guess I must have really wanted this – to have my story written.

To my relief, she was thrilled. We started work right away. It was awesome. I just kept showing her scenes from my life, and she started a journal to write it all down.

But I guess Ian wasn’t kidding when he said we had a lot in common.

Like, everything.

Okay, Danielle was never in foster care. But it turns out her dad died when she was two, and then a guy she looked up to as a father figured died when she was eighteen. So she knows what it’s like to think you can depend on someone you love … only to have them, like, vanish on you. And that’s pretty much what foster care was like for me. Not to mention, I have zero clue who or where my own dad is.

She told me she was really sorry, but she couldn’t write the story with me. She said she was still working out a lot of her own issues, which would compromise her ability to approach my story objectively. She recommended I find a different author.

I was totally bummed. Especially when I heard Danielle was mad at Ian for recommending her to me.

After that, I was too scared to try to find a different author from scratch, so I figured that was the end.

And then – to my surprise – Danielle came back. She said she’d thought everything over carefully, and came to the conclusion that writing my book might actually be a way for her to work through her own issues. She would be my author – but we’d progress with the work slowly.

That was about five years ago, in your world. (Time doesn’t mesh well between your world and mine. I was in high school then, and I’m still in high school now. I’m not that dumb.)

And now … (fanfare) … I’m really happy to say that my novel, Mailboatis actually gonna be a thing. After all those years of letting the story “percolate,” as she calls it, Danielle is working on the first draft now, and plans to publish it this summer. I’m so excited!

The manuscript currently looks like a big awful mess, but Danielle told me not to worry. She said they always do. Ian kinda smiles knowingly and says I’ll be perfectly happy with the end results. I hope so! Still kinda nervous, I guess. Anyway, I’m really glad he told me to talk to her. She and I really do have a ton in common – like, more than either of us ever imagined – so we really are perfect for each other.

She even made a research trip last summer all the way to Lake Geneva, WI – the parallel location in your guys’ world – to do research for the novel. She even tried mail jumping!

Anyway, thanks for reading, I guess. Danielle said I should write a post every so often. IDK. We’ll see.

– Bailey Johnson

(Okay, and now I feel really lame, ‘cuz auto correct thinks my first name is supposed to be “Basket.”)


Note from Danielle: 

The novel Mailboat and its setting were inspired by the real-life Mailboat in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Check them out!

2015-02-08 More in common2015-02-08 How I Became the Main Character