A note from Heather Henson about Wrecked

I love Shakespeare. Always have. Probably because my dad quoted from Shakespeare plays like The Tempest throughout my childhood. My dad was an actor, and started his own theatre in Kentucky called Pioneer Playhouse.

Lots of plays, including The Tempest, found their way into my novel Here’s How I See It/Here’s How It Is, a story about a young girl growing up in a theatre much like Pioneer Playhouse. From that book on, The Tempest was like seed–planted, taking root, sprouting. Over time I wondered how I could use the iconic story of a father and daughter stranded on a deserted island as framework for something new.

At the start of The Tempest, we learn that Prospero and his daughter Miranda were shipwrecked long ago, the consequence of some double cross in Prospero’s mysterious past. Ultimately, The Tempest is about revenge. But it’s also about first love, sacrifice, betrayal, and rebirth.

At first, I thought about going futuristic with my retelling. Possibly post-apocalyptic. It worked with the whole deserted island thing. But I’m a Kentucky writer – all my books have been set in Kentucky – so I decided to place my story in a world I know.

The knobs are real, though in my fictional story, I take liberties and rename landmarks. In my story, the magic practiced by Prospero is linked to something real–something darker, more menacing.

The opioid crisis has been devastating in Kentucky. I’ve known friends, and sons and daughters of friends, lost to addiction and to overdose. I’ve listened as words like oxy, meth, heroin, and fentanyl have become part of everyday conversation.

Wrecked isn’t a retelling of The Tempest; the play became more of a jumping off point. As I write a book, I listen carefully to what my characters have to say, and my three protagonists, Miri (Miranda), Fen (Ferdinand) and Clay (Caliban) definitely had their own stories to tell.

Full of grit, passion, and mystery, Henson’s latest portrays setting as an untamed beast: wild, beautiful, dangerous. Set among the rambling and richly drawn Kentucky mountains, the book takes a searing look at first loves and second chances, family secrets, and the devastating effects of the opioid crisis, all while exploring the ways home may affect us, but does not have to define us. Wrecked is a raw gem of a book.
-David Arnold, NYT Best-selling author of Mosquitoland

Heather Henson has written a breathtaking and harsh and beautiful novel about the knobs of Kentucky, about meth addiction, and about the incredible rush of first love. Wrecked is exquisitely plotted and fast-moving. What I felt most of all when I read the last words is that this is a novel about the tenderness an author feels for a land and its people, and the heartache that underlies a nation struggling.
-Cynthia Kadohata, National Book Award-winning author of The Thing About Luck

In this romantic thriller set against a backdrop of dangerous drug activity in the woods of Kentucky, two teens fall hard for one another while a third loses his way.
First-person narration alternates among three main characters in this winding, twisty mystery. Smart, thoughtful, mechanically inclined Miri yearns to escape her charismatic but strange father, who is a large-scale producer of crystal methamphetamine. She meets newcomer Fen, who’s moved there from Detroit to live with his dad, and is instantly drawn to him. This new relationship is deeply troubling to Clay, a slightly older friend of Miri’s family who has been on his own since his mother was sent to prison for cooking meth. The off-the-grid compound replete with huge gardens, free-range chickens, and menacing dogs where Miri lives is vividly imagined, providing a solid anchor for this contemporary story of troubled relationships and first love. Fen’s affinity for recording natural sounds as an art form is a captivating detail that helps flesh out the immediate connection between him and Miri. Readers will know early on that there’s more to his family’s backstory than is being revealed but may not suspect everything. An afterword by the author references Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but readers need not be familiar with it to be pulled in by this novel. All characters are White.
An intense story of love, friendship, and family that takes unexpected turns. (Fiction. 14-18)
–Kirkus Reviews