When an author I read regularly (and enjoy) suddenly veers in a new direction and publishes something quite different from what they usually write, it piques my interest. E. A. West has made a name for herself as a prolific author of inspirational romance, and her books often feature veterans and/or people with handicaps. But Crash Course is about teenagers, and I wondered what E. A. had to say about them. I’ll share my thoughts at the end, but first I’ll tell you about the book, and then let E. A. tell you how she went about writing it:
Back Cover Blurb:
Parties, dirt bikes, boyfriends… Angie has it all, but everything changes when her father kicks her out. Gone are the freedom and parties she thrived on. Now she has to survive a conservative mother with strict rules and a stepfather who may or may not like her. Then she meets freestyle motocross rider Brady Scott. He’s gorgeous, talented, and shows her respect at every turn. There’s only one problem — his opinions of life are opposite hers. The more time she spends with him, however, the more she’s drawn to him.
As Angie struggles to find her place in two conflicting worlds, she gets a crash course in life lessons and has to make a difficult decision — give up the partying life to hang out with Brady and his youth group friends or continue down a dangerous path that could destroy her.
Doesn’t that sound great? When I began reading, I knew nothing about the world of motocross, and I wondered if this was something E. A. grew up with. I asked EA to share with us how she chose this setting for her book, and thankfully she agreed.
When Patricia asked me to share my journey researching and writing Crash Course, my initial reaction was, “But there’s no journey to write about!” Some authors have exciting tales of world travels they went on for research. Me…not so much. Yet I did do quite a bit of research for this book, although it might not be what most people expect.
Crash Course was inspired by people I knew in high school and far too many weekends watching freestyle motocross competitions on TV. Most of what Angie goes through in the book didn’t require much in the way of research. Sadly, I was able to draw on memories of friends who lived in similar ways (minus the dirt bikes). Many of them were so unhappy with the way their lives were going and didn’t like themselves, and it broke my heart. My experiences with them gave me a strong desire to show that there is another way to live, that no matter how far down a person’s choices take them, they can turn their lives around and become people they like.
Brady was inspired by freestyle motocross rider Travis Pastrana, who I first saw in a competition when he was fifteen. I loved the idea of writing a teenaged character who had a career doing something most people wouldn’t dream of trying while also showing him being a regular teenage guy. Brady took on a life of his own as I wrote Crash Course and kind of went his own way, but I love the character he became.
The motocross aspect of the book took a lot of research because I had no personal experience to draw on. Watching the X Games and the Dew Tour on TV gave me a good start and plenty of inspiration, but I needed more. I spent hours online reading articles about freestyle motocross and dirt bikes, interviews with riders, and forum posts to pick up the lingo. I also watched a ton of YouTube videos showing various tricks until I understood the techniques well enough to realistically write them.
Writing is definitely a labor of love, but it allows me to learn so many things I would otherwise never know. It also gives me a greater appreciation for people like freestyle motocross riders who do death-defying tricks while flying through the air with a dirt bike. Knowing how much work they put into their chosen careers, knowing they risk injury every time they launch off the end of a ramp, makes watching what they do even more awesome. I can only hope I did them justice in Crash Course.
Thank you so much! E. A. shared a few of the videos that helped her research. This one features the rider who inspired Crash Course’s character Brady Scott:
And here’s another video illustrating one of the stunts Brady executes:
Angie is a teenager who’s experienced more hardship than most adults see in a lifetime. Reading about the abuse she suffered made me fearful for the potential dangers my grandkids face each day. Angie’s sudden move from California to Virginia means that she’ll suddenly have rules and expectations, and she doesn’t trust the clean-cut kids in the youth group. The good guys and the bad guys are well-defined, though there’s a definite surprise when a new friend from her parents’ church provides an unwanted link to her past life. Her fears and anxiety are well-portrayed, and I had no trouble reading this in a few days, because I didn’t want to put it down.