aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Happy Birthday to The Body in the Woods

TheBodyintheWoods high res cvrToday, June 17th, is the publishing birthday of The Body in the Woods. It's the first in my new mystery series for teens, called The Point Last Seen series.  I like mysteries and thrillers that are fiction with a big dose of reality.  For a long time, I’ve been looking for a good idea for a teen mystery series that was realistic.
Then just a little over two years ago, I was sitting with some old friends at a Kathleen Edwards concert. They told us their daughter Sarah was volunteering with Multnomah County’s Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (MCSO SAR).
SAR kids respondingI thought I knew what SAR did: help find people who are lost in the wilderness. And while they do do that, it turns out that our local SAR has two things that set it apart.
The first is that while other SAR groups exist across the country, most are not made up of teens. And those few that are usually either associated with Boy Scouts and/or just have an observational role. By contrast, MCSO SAR is the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office primary search and rescue resource. While there are adult advisors and a Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputy is present at any operation, the team leaders are all teens, as are most of the members.
The second is that about 30% of what they do is crime scene evidence searches. If someone was murdered outside, or if they police suspect the weapon or other evidence was discarded outside, or if the police know a gun was fired and they need the bullet for evidence, or if a body is found outside and they aren’t sure of the cause of death, these kids will be there.

SAR evidence search gaitersThey form a line on their hands and knees, wearing painter’s padded kneelers and leather gloves and they crawl forward shoulder to shoulder.  They never touch what they find, so they don’t enter the chain of evidence.  They are taught to look directly in front of them, as well as above them and behind them, to make sure they don’t miss, say, a knife someone sunk into a tree trunk.  The rule is, if they can’t see through it, they have to go through it, because they know that often a bad guy will discard evidence in a place he thinks no one would ever go, such as a blackberry bush.
And when I heard about this, I knew that I was going to right a series based on our SAR.  Less than six months later, I had made a two-book deal in what we’re calling the Point Last Seen series, and I just accepted an offer for more books.

So this book is about three teens.  Alexis is tall, pretty, quiet, and poor. She joined SAR in the hopes that it will look good on college applications in a few years.  Alexis also has a secret:  her mom is bipolar. Ruby is a bit of an odd duck, who knows she’s different but doesn’t understand how to fit in.  She likes unusual gum flavors, continuity errors in movies, and true crime.  And then there’s Nick.  He’s a hyperactive daydreamer who dreams of joining the Army, just like his dad, who died in Iraq.
And in the book, they are hunting through Forest Park for a missing autistic man when instead they find the body of a murdered girl.  Ruby begins to believe that there’s a serial killer at work.

Teen TrackerThe real SAR
While the state requires only 30 hours of training for certification, all members of MCSO SAR receive about 300 hours of training in first aid, emergency survival skills, radio communications, land navigation, GPS orientation, crime scene evidence searches, search techniques, human tracking, helicopter safety, wilderness medicine, rope rescues, urban search and rescue, snow and avalanche safety, and how to respond to terrorist attacks as well as natural disasters.
Its members are the first response team for missing, lost, or injured persons in the county and are often called in by other counties to assist at large search sites or when resources are drained. MCSO SAR members perform crime scene evidence searches at major or outdoor crime scenes for agencies all over the state of Oregon, and have been credited with finding key evidence in dozens of cases.
To participate, teens must be 14 years of age or older, maintain a 2.0 GPA, pass a criminal background check, have up-to-date vaccinations, be able to hike for long periods of time, be on call 24/7, and have the permission of their parents/guardians as well as their schools.

Blog tour
Monday June 9
YA Book Nerd

Tuesday June 10
The Book Addict’s Guide

Wednesday June 11
A Reader’s Adventure

Thursday June 12
YAdult Review

Friday June 13

Monday June 16
Reading with ABC

Tuesday June 17
Novel Novice

Wednesday June 18
Paperback Princess

Thursday June 19
Tales of a Ravenous Reader

Friday June 20
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Tags: the body in the woods
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