Destiny at Dolphin Bay (Destino en la Bahía de los Delfines) – International/Inspirational YA Adventure. In this Genesis Award finalist, Baltimore teen Melissa Travis flees from guilt over her grandmother’s death to visit her sister on a rustic Chilean island. While on this involuntary mission trip, she is sucked into a storm of chilling calamities and bizarre superstitions. Then when a major earthquake hits, Melissa and her friend Nicolás team to help a group of homeless children, trap a bogus shaman who uses the chaos for his own agenda, and make life-changing choices.
Here I’m sharing two potential prologues for Destiny at Dolphin Bay which I decided NOT to include in the book. Enjoy a peek behind the scenes:
How did a gringa from the suburbs of Baltimore turn a remote island in southern Chile upside down? It wasn’t her sister, the missionary, or her preacher brother-in-law. It wasn’t the earthquake that year, or the local dolphin-whisperer or the legendary ghost ship or even the wicked witchdoctor.
Instead, a teenage girl rocked our family boat and caught the Caleuche. Just an average city kid from the USA, on a visit with a double-edged agenda, but she rewrote the legends.
When Melissa Travis arrived that January afternoon—the zenith of the summer in South America—Chile shuddered under a tsunami of changes. In the universe outside, those were the days of Nintendo, Walkman, heavy metal bands, and spiral perms. In Chile, democracy dawned again, after sixteen years of dictatorship.
And with it, their exiles returned. A trickle at first, then a deluge. For some, it was a happy homecoming. For others, a tragic reminder of all they had lost. My husband John [not his real name] fell in that category.
For long months, he debated whether to risk going home to his family in the Chiloé Islands. The roundup of radicals, real and imagined, had ended. So they said. But the islanders have longer, darker memories…
Melissa traveled to Chile as an exile of sorts, too. Unaware of Chile’s history and mysteries, she burst onto the timeline… And the world as she knew it was about to change.
… and Prologue 2
My husband and I shuffled along outside an iconic clam shack in Ellsworth, Maine, on a sultry August evening. The mingled aroma of hot grease and seafood might have repulsed me in any other setting, but this was quintessential New England summer. So what if the line-up in front of us wrapped halfway around the block? I had to have a basket of plump fried clams before we sailed back to Nova Scotia on the brand-new catamaran the next morning.
“There’s only a gazillion spots just like this up and down the coast.” John Fabián mopped his brow with his T-shirt. He loathed the muggy, buggy heat. “From here to the Bush retreat in Kennebunk, I imagine. All the same. Why does it have to be this particular joint?”
“No complaining.” I laughed and patted his bronzed arm. “Because…there’s only one Captain Jim’s.”
A pretty teenage girl ahead of us spun around, her golden-blond ponytail bouncing. “I agree, that’s what I just told my sister. We have to get a clam basket from Captain J.’s before we head back to Baltimore tomorrow.”
“Oh, you’re an outah-statah, are you?” Turning on my heaviest Downeast accent for the summer people always tickled me.
“Yeah, from away, as they say, I guess.” She smiled, her eyes sparkling like sun-on-sea. “But I’ve spent lots of summers—or parts of summers—here. My family’s had a cottage out in Northeast Harbor for, like, a century.”
Uh-huh. I refrained from sniffing. She might look the friendly girl-next-door type, but I smelled a connection to old money somewhere.
“What about yourself, ma’am?”
Ma’am? Honestly, I was only 32. Must’ve been John’s wind-sculpted crinkles. “Oh, I’m local, though just back on vacation now,” I said. “Grew up in Trenton, stone’s throw out of town. Went to Ellsworth High.”
“Really? So did my brother-in-law.”
The girl tilted her palomino mane toward a kiddie playground on the opposite side of the snack bar’s teeming complex. “They’re waiting for me across the way. He’s the true Mainer in our family. Has a hankering for clams, too.”
“Of course he does. I don’t understand why Johnny doesn’t like ’em. He may not be from around here, but he grew up on the ocean. An island off the coast of Chile, actually. South America, ya know.”
“We don’t bread and deep-fry clams in Chiloé.” John shook his head and pretended to scowl. “And our clambakes there are nothing like the mediocre ones here—put you to shame, Di.”
“Can’t beat our lobster, though.” I elbowed him and threw a triumphant grin at the girl.
She was staring, and I didn’t think it was amazement over the relative culinary merits of seafood dishes. “Chiloé! Did you say Chiloé—off the coast of Chile?”
John peered at her. “Ever heard of it? If you have, you’d be the first person.”
“I spent some time there a couple of years ago, believe it or not. During the, you know—Listen, you’ve got to meet my family. How long have you been away, anyway?”
“Sometimes,” John said, “it seems like a lifetime. I’d give anything to go home.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“He’s a political exile.” I squeezed John’s hand. “But things are looking up there now, I hear, since the change of government. Maybe we could think about it sometime, honey.”
“It’s not just Pinochet’s long arm,” he said. “There’re ghosts and monsters in Chiloé you know nothing about, Di.”
“But Chiloé is changing too,” the girl said.
“I bet.” John’s Chilean-Spanish accent thickened with sarcasm. “That’s what they said before the coup back in ’73, eh? But it only takes one bad apple to spoil a whole island.”
“Or one good nut to save it. Like…God can change things, you know. My sister and brother-in-law are missionaries there.”
“God, huh?” I said. “Reminds me of an old school friend of mine. He’s a missionary or something like that now. Cole Peterson was my first crush, Johnny.” I laughed up at him. “Religious or not, that guy could play soccer to rival your hero Pelé.”
The girl stared again, her aquamarine eyes as wide as carat gemstones now. “Oh, wow, I can’t believe—”
“Ordah, please,” called an aproned Mainer from the clam shack’s screened window.
“After we get our clams, you’ve got to come with me.” She offered her hand. “I’m Melissa Travis, by the way. Have I got a story to tell you.”
…Melissa’s story as told in Book 1 of Desert Island Diaries, Destiny at Dolphin Bay.