When Hunter's mum decides to take the family on a road trip to far North Queensland, he finds it hard to conceal his resentment. No Facebook. No internet. No Xbox.
It is a trip that his mum thinks will bring the family closer together, especially now that his stepdad and little brother are part of the mix.
With tension and secrets sizzling beneath the happy family facade, the road trip soon becomes Hunter's worst nightmare. The further away from home he gets, the more he can't shake thoughts of the accident that took his dad away from them.
Can one trip really help bring a family together?
For Nikki Buick, the themes of blended families, absent fathers, mental illness, disability and self-discovery came from her years of study and work in the area of Family Dispute Resolution, listening to and counselling young people through issues they struggled to navigate on their own.
-There's an expression 'you can't choose your family" but in a blended family, there is a choice made somewhere, but it's rarely the kids making the choice or having any say at all. I have met many young people who have felt vulnerable and unable to express, particularly to their parents, their raging, writhing frustrations and feelings about their place in the newly reconfigured family unit,' she says.
Nikki has always had an affinity for teenagers. They fascinate, frustrate and inspire her in equal measures.
As the mother of three teenage sons (and two younger ones), Nikki naturally drew on their collective souls in writing Sandy Feet to breathe life into the character of Hunter. -I sat down and wrote the story of an angst ridden teenager, dragged along on a family adventure that held no interest whatsoever for him. My sixteen-year-old son Harry could well relate to such a tale and still has nightmares!' she comments.
Nikki now feels like Hunter has become her honorary, make-believe son and she loves him almost as much as the others!
Sandy Feet is a gritty, confronting young adult novel that Nikki hopes will take readers on an unexpected journey of discovery, one that reminds us of the true value of family, friendship and love.
Nikki Buick has had a varied career, from film and television acting to teaching to legal counselling. She lives in Queensland with her husband and children. One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars (written under her maiden name, McWatters) was her first book. It was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards – Best Emerging Author.
Author: Nikki Buick