Reedy takes off to new heights with new novel, ‘Stealing Air’

Reedy takes off to new heights with new novel, Stealing Air

By Nicole Livingston, Eagle Life Writer


Though Trent Reedy’s new novel is not filled with quite as heavy subject matter as his first novel, “Words in the Dust,” he is still as passionate while writing about the lighter side of life.

The story takes place in the small town of Riverside, Iowa, and centers around three sixth grade boys, Brian, Alex and Max, who try to build an experimental airplane in a secret workshop.  Their lives are complicated by the social constraints of junior high, bullies and interpersonal problems in addition to figuring out exactly how to build an aircraft.

“I’m really happy that ‘Stealing Air’ is on the shelves because it’s a story that I have had in my head for a really long time.”

During the sixth grade, Reedy was assigned to write a story, according to his website. That story became the setting for his new novel ‘Stealing Air.’ Before his first novel, Reedy had the manuscript ‘Stealing Air’ written.

“Stealing Air was the first novel-length story I ever wrote. I wrote this in my early 20s and I did what I thought at the time was revising,” said Reedy. “I checked for punctuation and things like that and cleaned up some sentences. I had sent this out to agents and editors pursuing publication, not realizing how completely unready for submission the manuscript was.”

However, when he was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Iowa National Guard during the war, it sat untouched. Reedy returned to graduate school after the war and, again, pulled out the old manuscript and said he was shocked.

“If I had not been sent to the war, I would have continued to send that manuscript out and just burn bridges with every publisher and agent in the business.”

He rewrote the entire story starting at page one. Though he had the framework, the plot and a set of characters, Reedy said it was not enough to salvage. Because of his learning experience with revision, he says he wants to pass on that same lesson through his work at the Writers’ Center, where he works as a responder.

“People come in and they want to work on grammar, they want to work on punctuation but it might really help their papers more or whatever they’re writing more to try to take a look at it in a radically different way,” he said.

In addition to revising and rewriting, Reedy had to do some research about airplanes. He was able to contact a fellow writer whose husband owned an airplane. He learned about all the controls and how those controls manipulate the wings and tail of the airplane to make it run smoothly.

This research was done so he could make the process of the characters building the plane seem realistic and he is even convinced himself that it is possible to achieve.

“I want readers of ‘Stealing Air’ to believe that they could really build this plane in their garage and fly around, like this would really work. I think it would. I don’t think it would be that hard if I had the time and materials and the engine expertise, I suppose. I think it would go.”

According to Reedy, his book is technically written for children and young adults, but he says he hopes people of all ages can enjoy his book the way he enjoys children’s literature.

“I really like kid [literature],” Reedy said. “I read books, novels written for young people all the time. Who wants to read about adults that just go to work and get their oil changed in their car and check their stock market when you can read about young people?”

“I think the greatest human adventure is all the discovery in growing up. Everything is so intense and everything is so new to them. It’s very important that they make the friendships they make when they make them, because that’s something that will affect the rest of their lives, really. How you first make friends and figure out how to socialize is something that will establish a pattern that will follow forever,” Reedy said.

Though Reedy said he had fun writing the novel, it did not come without its challenges. He said he “naively assumed” that the work would go faster and smoother since he already had one novel under his belt. He was mistaken.

“One night I was working on ‘Stealing Air’ really late because I had to meet this deadline and it must have been … two in the morning, four in the morning,” said Trent Reedy. “So, these boys have this secret workshop where this experimental aircraft is in the secret workshop and one of the characters puts his hand on the wing of the aircraft. And I remember thinking, ‘Wait a minute, when did these guys get chicken wings? I knew I had written in some Doritos and cookies.’”

Needless to say, he quit working for the night.

Amanda Reedy, Trent Reedy’s wife and assistant professor in the School of Social Work, has been given the opportunity to observe her husband’s writing behaviors in a more personal setting.

“One of the great things about Trent’s career is that he works from home most days,” said Amanda Reedy. “However, when he is drafting a new novel or working on revisions, then I don’t see much of him. He can easily spend whole days, and sometimes nights, working in his office.”

“When he does come out of his office to eat or take a break, his mind is still very wrapped up in the story. I think that is another unique quality I’ve noticed about Trent that may be common among other authors; he is always thinking of new stories,” Amanda Reedy said.

Amanda Reedy says that while they are sometimes apart when he has to travel, she is more than prepared to handle his busy schedule.

“Trent and I spent 15 months apart while he was serving with the National Guard in 2003 and 2004, so in many ways we have been well prepared for his current travel schedule,” Amanda Reedy said. “There have been several times where we agree that it would have been nice for me to join him on a trip, like to London and New York, but due to my teaching responsibilities and the timing of the trip it hasn’t worked out. I think that is the difficult part, wanting to share the new experiences together, but not being able to.”

Amanda Reedy says the two of them are planning a trip to New York to make up for lost time and even though times can get difficult she is happy her husband is doing something he is passionate about.

“Trent gets to do what he loves every day. We are very lucky,” she said.

Though this is his second novel, Trent Reedy says he is still amazed that being an author is his profession.

“I can’t believe I get to be a writer for a job,” Trent Reedy said. “Yeah, it’s work. It takes a lot of work, but the work … is always fun. It’s like really dedicated, concentrated play.”

In addition, he is still able to appreciate and enjoy his own work.

“I mean I would be working on going through my fifth, sixth, seventh pass through this manuscript and hit a joke and still laugh at it again. When I can do that, I know I am having a lot of fun with a novel.”