The Journey to Writing My First Novel by Alex Lyttle – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews YA welcomes Alex Lyttle who is celebrating the release of his debut novel, From Ant to Eagle. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 bookstore or PayPal gift card.

The Journey to Writing My First Novel by Alex Lyttle, author of From Ant to Eagle
When I was in my first year of medical school I had the difficult decision as to how I was going to spend my summer. In order to get into a good residency training program I needed to do something that looked good on a resume. Most people do research. It looks good on a resume AND helps you get to know the doctors in the area you are applying for.

But I didn’t want to do research. I’d already done a summer of research before medical school and most of that was spent asleep on a microscope. And I mean literally asleep. I would go into the dark room, place my eyes against the microscope and nap. I wasn’t a very good researcher.

So, I decided to take up painting! I knew that it wouldn’t be as appealing on a resume as research but hey, at least it would be a conversation starter in my interviews. I bought canvas, paints and watched one Bob Ross video on how to paint. My one and only painting was of a mountain that more closely resembled a spaceship. And not a very good spaceship. In fact, it was terrible. And not only that, I didn’t enjoy painting.

But I still needed to do something productive with my summer. So I decided to take up writing. About what? I wasn’t sure. I had some vague thoughts about writing about my brother. I’d tormented him when we were little, inventing a “game” whereupon I made him do horrible things to gain a “level” and I guess I harboured some guilt over that. I wanted to show people that despite the outward cruelty, there was a deep-seeded love that existed between us. So I started to write. And I loved it. But the book didn’t have any direction.

I continued to aimlessly pound away at the keyboard until third year medical school when we left the classroom and began rotating through the hospitals. One of my first rotations was in pediatric oncology and it was devastating. I’ll come out and say this: I’m a sensitive person. I cry in almost every movie, including Finding Dory, and sitting in on meetings with families being told their child has cancer was overwhelming. It would resonate with me long after I left the hospital. I didn’t sleep well. I kept thinking about those children and their families. Often, I would think about their siblings. The children brought to the hospitals day-in and day-out while their brothers or sisters underwent treatment. Since the focus of the caregivers is, rightfully so, on the children who are sick, the siblings are often left out. They are the forgotten ones and I decided to write a story from their perspective. I wanted to show young readers what these children go through. I wanted them to be able to empathize.

So I started the book again. And seven years later (pediatric residency does not leave much time for writing), it is finished. It is called From Ant To Eagle and will be available in stores April 1st, 2017. I hope that you read it. I hope that you like it. But mostly, I hope that it opens your eyes to the difficulties of children like Sammy and Calvin.

My name is Calvin Sinclair, I’m eleven years old and I have a confession… I killed my brother.

It’s the summer before grade six and Calvin Sinclair is bored to tears. He’s recently moved from a big city to a small town and there’s nothing to do. It’s hot, he has no friends and the only kid around is his six-year-old brother, Sammy, who can barely throw a basketball as high as the hoop. Cal occupies his time by getting his brother to do almost anything: from collecting ants to doing Calvin’s chores. And Sammy is all too eager – as long as it means getting a “Level” and moving one step closer to his brother’s Eagle status.

When Calvin meets Aleta Alvarado, a new girl who shares his love for Goosebumps books and adventure, Sammy is pushed aside. Cal feels guilty but not enough to change. At least not until a diagnosis causes things at home to fall apart and he’s left wondering whether Sammy will ever complete his own journey…

From Ant to Eagle.

About the Author:Alex Lyttle is a pediatrician living in Calgary, Alberta with his wife and three children. He was raised in London, Ontario – the setting of his first novel, From Ant to Eagle, which he wrote based on his experiences working in the Pediatric Oncology unit. When he is not working, writing or playing basketball, he enjoys learning new magic tricks to perform for his young patients.

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