Author Carman revisits teen years in new novel 2010

VERO BEACH — With two teenage daughters, children’s novelist Patrick Carman has been spending lots of time at high school sports events. He also has been reflecting on his own high school experiences.

“It’s as if our two worlds collided,” said the New York Times best-selling author. “As my daughters got older, I was reminded of my teenage years. It felt like a good time to write something for an older audience.”

The result is “Thirteen Days to Midnight,” a superhero story geared to emergent young-adult readers. Carman will speak about it and sign copies at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the teen loft of the Vero Beach Book Center’s Children’s Store.

The book revolves around a gift bestowed on Jacob Fielding by his foster father with his final words, “You are indestructible.” With his best friends Milo and Ophelia, Jacob tests the boundaries of his new power. He can withstand a beating from the high school bully without a scratch, walk through a burning building without so much as a singed eyebrow and even transfer the power to another person.

When Ophelia suggests that they begin experimenting to save people who are at risk of death, they discover that the power is linked to a curse that even the world’s greatest escape artist could not outrun.

“It’s the first novel in which I’ve drawn on people and places I know well,” Carman said. “The characters are composites of students I knew, and the setting is my old high school, which was taken over by the neighboring community college the year I graduated. One of the challenges was to decide how much I wanted it to be real and based on my experiences and how much should be fiction.

“The greater challenge was to come up with a strong mythology. I wrote about 50 pages, but threw them away when I decided to follow a Houdini-type path.”

Carman, author of the best-selling “The Land of Elyon” and other series, said “Thirteen Days” is a complete and finished story.

Patrick Carman