Wednesday, February 27, 2013

LEAP into Books - Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

The end of February arrives sooner than I think it will every year. It's the perfect time to check out a book I almost missed seeing. My guess is... maybe someone else (almost) missed it, too. Please welcome Heather Walsh, author of this funny-but-deep book called Dented Cans...

Dented Cans
Dented Cans
by Heather Walsh
Kindle Edition, 150 pages
Published November 2nd 2012 by Amazon Digital Services


A family secret is revealed during an ill-fated—yet hilarious—trip to Disney World.

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Sampson knows her family is not what you would call normal. Her father compulsively buys dented cans and has a particular fondness for cans without labels, which are extremely discounted because their contents are a mystery. Her mother takes countless pictures of her family and then glues them down into the pages of her scrapbooks, but does not allow anyone to look at them. Ryan, Hannah’s mischievous fourteen-year-old brother, is headed straight for the remedial track at the local community college, if he’s lucky. Ben, her eight-year-old brother, is a walking sound effects machine, who prefers to communicate with noises rather than words. While Hannah is focused on escaping her working-class Connecticut suburb, she also finds herself being tugged back home as she worries about her brother Ben.

Hannah’s parents inflict one last family vacation on the Sampson children, a trip that goes comically wrong almost from the get-go. Hannah is forced to confront her family’s past in Disney World, of all places, when an emotional argument prompts her parents to disclose a secret they have been keeping from the children for sixteen years. Ultimately, she must decide whether to leave her hometown and not look back, or to focus on helping her family.

Where did you get the idea for your story - can I ask?  So many of the family quirks sound too close to reality!!
I didn’t have a grand plan when I started writing Dented Cans. I sometimes start with a thought or character and see where it takes me. In this case, I came up with the idea of a teenage girl and a family trip to Disney, and eventually it led to Dented Cans.
While most of Dented Cans is fiction, a few things from the novel are plucked from real life. My dad really did buy dented cans—even unlabeled ones! My family went on a number of vacations to Disney World, although our trips tended to be a lot more successful than the Sampsons’. I have three younger brothers (Hannah has two), and I grew up in a suburb in Connecticut similar to the fictional North Prospect in the novel.
Do you have a favorite scene?
I have a soft spot for Chapter 6, where Hannah is studying her SAT words and incorporating them into her description of Disney. I especially like the scene in this chapter where they are on the Spaceship Earth ride and not exactly being model tourists.
Share something personal!
I am a foodie. I’ve lived in New York City and San Francisco, two of the best places for a foodie to live. We just moved to Brookline last year, so I have been exploring the food scene here. Each city has its strengths when it comes to food. I also have a terrible sweet tooth, and I am happy to report that all three locations have great desserts.
Website/Blog  *  Goodreads  *   Twitter


1 Print Copy of Dented Cans for a winner in the USA & 1 eCopy of Dented Cans for an International winner provided by Heather Walsh. Must be 18 to enter. See all my applicable rules under the About tab.

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Sample from Dented Cans

Here is a brief sample, during the trip to Disney World. This is in the voice of Hannah, the narrator of the novel.

We did a few more rides, and then we went to the World Showcase, the section of EPCOT that consisted of pavilions “showcasing” various countries. In reality just a bunch of overpriced restaurants and gaudy gift shops “hawking” ethnic food and trinkets. Before we were allowed to eat lunch, we had to locate a restroom so we could rid our hands of the thousands of germs that only Dad had the ability to detect. Then we spread out across two benches in Italy right next to Alfredo’s Restaurant, where people who actually purchased their food went to eat. It was a good thing we’d brought our own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That and chicken fingers would have probably been a hard ethnic cuisine to place. Maybe the Nutritionally Defunct Pavilion?

Mom began passing out the sandwiches. I felt as if I shouldn’t eat mine, knowing the hard work that went into making it.

“This World Showcase is so boring,” Ryan said.

“This World Showcase is so stereotyped,” I said. “Who knew the only thing Italians do is listen to ‘O Solo Mio’ while they eat spaghetti and meatballs? And if you’re German, you obviously dance the polka. Half of it isn’t even true.”

“Yeah, I didn’t know that Mexicans just hit piƱatas all day. And you can buy your own to whack for just 19.99,” Ryan said.

“Hannah, stop questioning everything. Just try to enjoy it,” Dad said.

Stop questioning everything. I think Dad was just quoting Socrates there. Didn’t he say that? My fellow Greeks, stop questioning everything. Just enjoy. Enjoy EPCOT.

“OK, I won’t point out that Africa, the second largest continent on the planet, isn’t even represented here,” I said.

“We’ve heard enough of your opinion on the matter. Can you please just let your younger brother enjoy this?” Dad said.

Sure. I could keep the truth to myself. Socrates and I were kindred spirits. Perhaps Dad had some hemlock for me to drink?

“Did you bring any canned peaches for dessert?” Ryan said.

I laughed.

“OK, very funny,” Dad said.