Charles A. Salter is the author of How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, book 3 in The Kare Kids Adventures:
How can three brothers stop the plot against their father’s aircraft carrier? When he’s not excelling in soccer, 12-year-old Matt likes to pretend he’s a Force Recon Marine, along with brothers Ryan, aged 10, and Jack, who is 8. Their father is a Captain in the U.S. Navy, currently deployed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Maryland, where they all live. Growing up in a military setting, the boys are familiar with armed forces strategy, tactics, and weaponry. They long for the day they can don uniforms themselves…just like the Marines on the navy ships they’ve seen. In a Recon game one day the three brothers scout out an abandoned airfield. They notice a team of skydivers mimic the classic military special operations tactic of jumping out of a plane at high altitude and opening the chute at the last possible moment to avoid detection before landing on an enemy target. Quickly the boys discover these are NOT U.S. military, but rather hostile agents training to land with guns and explosives on a navy aircraft carrier. Their Force Recon Marine play suddenly becomes very real as they struggle to determine the exact target and time of the coming attack, to evade the terrorist gang, and get their intelligence information back to the navy in time to save their father’s ship. Captured by the gang, can they use their junior Force Recon Marine skills to escape, get back to headquarters, and devise a plan to defeat the terrible plot without anyone getting seriously hurt?
Read on for an interview with Charles and an excerpt from the book.
S.R.: You’ve published two books in the Kare Kids Adventure Series in just a couple months. And you’ve got plans to get book #4 out in early fall. What’s your process like? And how crazy is your schedule right now?
C.S.: I took many months to write, edit, and polish the first three book manuscripts, but I timed publication so that one would come out each month of summer, intending to provide a reading series for kids out of school. My writing process involves coming up with unique characters who are confronted with an unusual situation or problem they must struggle to handle. But right now I sometimes wonder if I bit off more than I can chew myself! It can be difficult handling several different books at once, each in a different stage of development. I started writing book #5 a few weeks ago and then realized, “Nope…it will have to wait till the others are finished…I just don’t have the time and energy for yet another one right now.”
S.R.: What can readers expect in books 2 and 3 of the series?
C.S.: Hopefully Middle Grade readers, ages about 8 to 12, can expect a lot more adventure! And the adventures in all the books of this series are refreshingly realistic. The kid heroes can’t rely on magic, or super-powers, or some other outside force to solve their problems for them. Instead, they must look within for their own heroic qualities and translate their concern for family, friends, animals, and the environment into real action to solve the problems they face. For example, in Book #2 (Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place), 9-year-old Charlotte discovers that a patch of the woods behind her house is sinking deep into the earth. The sinkhole traps two puppies, including her own, and threatens the entire nearby kennel. Charlotte alerts her family and the authorities, but there comes a crisis point in which she is the only one around as the center of the sinkhole rips open and threatens to swallow the fallen tree to which the pups cling. What will she do? In Book #3 (How Three Brothers Saved the Navy) the brothers, aged 12, 10, and 8, discover a terrorist plot against their Navy father’s aircraft carrier. Using only their junior military skills, how can they determine the plot details, escape the gang, and get the vital information back to their dad and the Navy in time?
S.R.: In Book #2, Kelcie, who was the 10-year-old protagonist in Book #1, is now all grown up and has a daughter of her own. What was it like transitioning from writing Kelcie as a kid to writing her as an adult and moving the focus onto her daughter? (Especially since the character Kelcie is based on a composite of your two daughters.)
C.S.: Book #1 was set a couple of decades in the past, when Kelcie was ten. As you note, I based her character on a composite of my two daughters as young girls at that time. Now in the real present, my two daughters are grown up and one of them has her own daughter, age 9. In Book #2, I base the main character Charlotte on this granddaughter, and some of the details in the book really did happen to Charlotte. I had no problem making the transition since I am writing about real people I know extremely well.
S.R.: How many books do you have planned for the series?
C.S.: Four so far are either published or nearly so. I plan to take time off from writing more while I devote myself to publicity and book promotion. Once I gauge the level of reader interest and which themes readers like best, I can decide what to do next. I have some tentative thoughts for a series of ultimately as many as 20 volumes or so. But whether I actually complete them all depends upon reader interest and demand.
S.R.: What’s been the best part about writing this series, so far?
C.S.: I’ve been a writer all my life, one with an intense desire to write. You might say I can’t NOT write. I am always coming up with ideas, jotting them down, expanding them, and then developing fully the ones which appeal to me the most. The best part for me about this particular series is writing what I consider a tribute to my real children and grandchildren, each of whom as fictionalized characters appears throughout the series.
S.R.: What do you hope readers will take away from your series?
C.S.: Like any writer, I want most of all to find readers who will enjoy the books and want to come back for more. But, in particular, I want to encourage youth readers to realize that they do possess heroic qualities and can make a difference in their world. They may not be able to battle dragons with magic wands or put on a cape and fly on their own power around the universe. But they can make their own corner of the world a better place if they try. I hope the KARE KIDS ADVENTURE series will help readers see that.