I just came across an article I wrote in 2014 for the WCDR Wordweaver. After reading it, I was surprised to see mention of my future novel, THE CAMINO CLUB. I didn’t know I had formed the idea for the novel so early. I mean, part of me did…but this article from June 11th 2014 definitely proves it! Wow. I really did carry that novel with me for a while. It released on October 6th, 2020, but I walked with it in my head in May, 2014 as I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain.
Here’s the article:
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The Camino de Santiago – Walk Now, Write Later…
by Kevin Craig
Pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago since medieval times. All the Camino routes lead to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle St. James are said to be buried.
I recently walked the Camino from Ponferrada to Santiago and grossly underestimated its power. Naively, I thought I would be able to write while on my journey. I even contemplated leading others through writing exercises. I strapped a brightly coloured journal to my backpack and planned to fill it with the wonder I was to encounter there.
On day one, prior to that first step, I sat in our hotel lobby and began to write. The entry was filled with the eager anticipation I had of taking those opening footsteps with my fellow peregrinos (pilgrims). The entry took up a quarter of a page. I made it short, as I was enamored with the oversized contraption filled with fresh oranges and colorful gadgetry in my periphery. I quickly learned it made orange juice. A Willy Wonky moment! I was in the Chocolate Factory.
I never opened my journal again.
I always talk about writers writing when they’re not writing. On the Camino, I lived this belief. I struck out on the path as a child, filled with wonder. After a glass of orange juice, made from a magical contraption, I knew immediately I was off to see the Wizard.
I’m now certain the Wizard of Oz is a parable for the Camino. I followed not the yellow brick road, but yellow arrows. I walked not with the lion and the Tin Man, but with my fellow peregrinos. We were all looking for something, and we all had unwavering faith we would find it once we arrived in the mystical city of Oz.
Like Dorothy, I met many people along the way. But I’m a writer. Whether I walked in solitary or in a group, I always clung to that kernel of need; I must write about this. I must share this experience in words.
On the day we walked up a steep mountain pass of jagged rocks and mud, I began to form my 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel idea. While walking I thought, ‘a YA novel about a group of inner-city kids in trouble. They each have to choose—face the serious consequences of their actions or walk the Camino.’ The idea formed as I walked barefoot through mud and pine needles. I was giddy from the splashing, the cushion-y comfort of needles, and the powerful aroma of the eucalyptus forest surrounding me.
As the Camino is wont to do, it later gave me a timely present. Two Irish women walked up and started talking to me about barefoot walking. They had already met my fearless Camino mentor, Sue Kenney. After a few minutes, we got into what they were there for. They had brought a group of teens. They offered numerous insights into how those teens viewed the Camino. Novel research! Practically wrapped in a bow.
I walked some breathtakingly beautiful terrain. Some of it seemed impossible, but the Camino gives you what you need to finish the trip. And in the end, you walk into Oz (Santiago) and you wake up from your dream. You arrive at the Wizard’s castle (the cathedral) and you look around you. All the faces are familiar. They are all old friends from far away. And you stand in the square and you say, “I had a dream!” And you point and say, “You were in it! And you were in it! And you were there, too!”
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The novel I wrote about in the above article, THE CAMINO CLUB, is now available to read!
THE CAMINO CLUB (Duet Books/Chicago Review Press) – After getting in trouble with the law, six wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselor guides. When it becomes clear the long walk isn’t really all that much of an option, they set out on a journey that will either make or break who they are and who they are to become.
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