Inspiration sometimes comes from interesting sources. When sorting through my library recently, I came across a novel that I’ve kept since my teaching days: Invitation to the Game. Part of the inspiration for my novel, The Medal, came from this book by the late Monica Hughes, a prolific YA novelist who wrote predominantly science fiction. I am not a huge fan of that genre, but our school had invited Monica Hughes as a Guest Author and I was reading several of her books with my grade 8 class in preparation for her visit. Invitation to the Game was, at the time, her newest release.
The story is set in a dystopian future where certain individuals are chosen to take part in a game that eventually turns real. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious why each person has been chosen – except one. The reader does not discover until the end that the entire book is a chronicle of the group’s survival and that the last person was chosen to be the writer and historian.
“What,” you might ask, “does this science fiction novel have to do with The Medal, a contemporary coming-of-age story set in Kingston, Ontario?” The answer is: nothing. Nothing, that is, if you only consider the content – but that was not what inspired me. It was the structure of the book that I found intriguing. I loved the twist at the end when the reader discovers that the whole book is actually a journal. I remember thinking at the time that some day I would write a book with that same structure.