Have you ever lived in a foreign country, tried to learn a foreign language, go to school there? Do you remember what it was like? How did the other kids treat you? Were they friendly or did standoffish?
When Keth, the main character in my novel Relocated, arrives on Aleyni, he already speaks the language fluently, thanks to his father's insistence. Yet when he finds himself living with an Aleyni, studying with Aleyni kids his age, he finds he's got some gaps in his language.
Both my parents spoke French, and I studied the language in school. I spent several summers in France, and another working as a student co-op in the Netherlands, and I experienced a lot of what my main character did. The Netherlands really are flat, with windmills, and people do wear clogs (wooden shoes). Everyone rode bicycles, and wore socks with their sandals. The friends I made all spoke four languages, while I was lucky to be able to express myself in two. And I learned to call my country the United States after meeting an American from Nicaragua.
But I also made some good friends and saw a lot of a beautiful country, including a visit to the Van Gogh museum outside Arnhem. I corrected math exams for the professor I was working for; he supplied me with a list of phrases in Dutch to use in my comments. And when he visited New York, my parents and I showed him around.
When fourteen-year-old Keth's dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn't know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval. Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth's friend's father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.
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