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The Landing

August 28, 2012

The Landing

Published 2012
Formats: Print, e-Book


W hen songwriter Danny escaped to the Atlantic coast seven years ago, he laid to rest his unrequited affection for childhood friend Meghan Harting. Their communication faded with yesterday and their lives have become deadlocked. Now Danny, haunted by an inner stronghold and determined to win Meghan back, must create a masterpiece and battle for the heart of the only woman who understands his music. As memories resurface, Danny and Meghan embark on parallel journeys of self-discovery-and a collision course to seal their mutual fate.

A tale of purpose, hope and redemption, The Landing is a "sweet story" (Publishers Weekly).

Before the Amazon bestselling novel From the Dead, John Herrick shared his heart in The Landing. Published here for the first time in response to reader requests, The Landing was a semi-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

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  • "Exquisite and honest. The Landing goes beyond language to pursue that elusive something that, when found, lingers and leaves you changed. Let John Herrick's characters and their triumphs strike a chord in your heart."
    Phyllis Wallace
    Syndicated radio host
  • "A powerful, absorbing tale, that will touch the heart and the mind as never before. A page turner."
    Doug Wead
    New York Times bestselling author and advisor to two presidents

As people read The Landing, sometimes I'm asked, "Was this particular detail based on personal experience?" or "Why did you choose to design an event this way?" Here are some personal notes and other odd trivia nuggets.

Prologue

The Andy Williams Christmas Album was a staple at our home during the holidays. Back then it was on LP, but today I still listen to the CD. But despite its mention in the prologue, "Little Drummer Boy" is one of my least favorite songs on the album.

Chapter One

The audience reactions to Danny's performance are based on reactions to my brother's performances during an open-mic night years ago.

The song extract is just that: a mere extract. I wrote it as a teenager - one of those occasions where I got a verse on paper but couldn't make the song work. Finally, I've found a use for it!

Chapter Three

Meghan's front-to-back-seat stunt in the moving-vehicle may or may not have been an actual occurrence. That will remain a mystery.

Chapter Thirteen

I purposely left "Meghan's Song" to the reader's imagination. I needed a strong emotional element for this pivotal scene, and concrete lyrics didn't seem to do Meghan justice.

Christine's process of playing "Meghan's Song" was based on an actual event. An acquaintance of mine plays the piano by ear. He took a look at a lead sheet I once wrote, plunked through it one time, then returned to the beginning and infused it with a gorgeous arrangement. Such ability fascinates me.

Chapter Eighteen

A friend attended University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

The unicycle incident in the hallway was an actual occurrence. While a student at Mizzou, my neighbor practiced his unicycle skills in the hall. His goal was to play Truman the Tiger, the university's mascot, at football games.

Chapter Twenty-one

In 1998, I nearly gave up on my dreams as a writer. Years of deadness followed until I rebooted and rebuilt that dream. The emptiness I felt inside is manifested here through Danny. The novel itself proved therapeutic for me as I wrote it in 2004-2005.

Chapter Twenty-four

I attended my first year of college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The town's college-themed retail street is commonly called "uptown" by the students due to the uphill walk from the campus to the retail street. Several of the environment's details are real, based on memory - including the two-screen cinema on the street corner. I believe the cinema's brick wall was painted royal blue at the time, but I don't recall for sure.

I saw families walk along the uptown street, and it always struck me as a student: "I'm here short-term, and I'll be leaving for the summer. But for these people, it's their home."

Meghan enters a bar and grill. The restaurant itself is not based on an actual restaurant, but its wooden door is.

Discussion Questions

  1. Which character, Danny or Meghan, experiences more growth over the course of The Landing?
  2. How does the author use scenes from the past to provide context for the Danny and Meghan's present circumstances?
  3. Why do you think free-spirited Meghan wound up in a stagnant lifestyle over time? Did she fear something deep down? Did she feel beaten down by life? What insight can the reader find in the flashback chapters?
  4. Why do you think the reserved Danny finds comfort in performing for an audience?
  5. By the time the present-day story opens in Chapters 1 and 2, Danny and Meghan have, in effect, traded places: Danny made a sudden, free-spirited move to Sunset Beach, while Meghan confined herself to a comfortable relationship. Is this a coincidence? Or did each character, on a subconscious level, adopt characteristics of the other in an attempt to search for the other?
  6. In Chapter 4, the author provides a background on Danny's post-college lifestyle in Ohio. He contrasts the cold Cleveland weather with the warm weather of Sunset Beach. How is each a metaphor for Danny's life stage at the respective location? Or how does each weather condition conflict with Danny's internal condition?
  7. Jay McGrady's personality differs from those around him. What purpose does this character serve in The Landing?
  8. In Chapter 17, when referring to Danny's relocation to Sunset Beach, Meghan's mother says, "I don't think he drove to the beach. I think he ran." What did she mean by this?
  9. In Chapter 20, Meghan undergoes an overwhelming emotional response to Danny's new song, "Breathing Yesterday." Have you ever heard a song on the radio that impacted you or arrived at a pivotal moment in your life?
  10. In Chapter 21, Danny decides to abandon the prospect of Meghan's love-and an era in his life. Have you ever walked away from a dream? Do you believe someone can walk away from a deeply ingrained dream, or will it come back to haunt him or her?
  11. After reading The Landing, reconsider its Prologue and Epilogue. How does the Prologue foreshadow events to come? How is the Epilogue a parallel to the novel's present-day ending?

In The Landing, main character Danny Bale introduced you to some of his song lyrics. Read some more of his lyrics below, along with background tidbits behind each one.

WHEN THE MOON SERENADES YOU

"I sang this to Meghan in the woods that night. It kept burning in me, so later on, I had to finish it."

View Lyrics...


I WANTED TO BE USED

"I tried my hand at a country song here."

View Lyrics...


CLEVELAND'S RESCUE

"I was thinking back on my roots here and got into a semi-spiritual mode. In a massive crowd of people, each person has a story. That struck me."

View Lyrics...


SHE DANCES IN THE RAIN

"Some moments remain forever etched in your brain, like a mental photograph. Moments where time stands still and you just soak in its beauty. I would only trust Rascal Flatts to record this song."

View Lyrics...


UNFAITHFUL

"This is one of those angry songs where you unleash your pent-up frustrations."

View Lyrics...


WATER'S EDGE

"A song of freedom..."

View Lyrics...


WOMEN

"Some things never change..."

View Lyrics...


HEAVEN SHINE A LIGHT

"Sometimes you're empty-handed and just need answers."

View Lyrics...


YOU'RE MY DIVISION

"For some reason, I decided to write a song that's a play on opposing ideas. Here's what I came up with."

View Lyrics...


BREATHING YESTERDAY

"And, of course, that song for Meghan, written from Sunset Beach."

View Lyrics...

Chapter 1

Danny Bale leaned against the restroom wall, ran his finger along his wrist.

Running his fingers through his beach-blond hair, he exhaled with a heavy grunt and tilted his head toward the ceiling, the details of which he had surveyed many times before. The circles of water damage. The hole at the edge of a beige panel. An aging light bulb that had developed a mysterious, maize-colored tint. Since his arrival at Sunset Beach, this room had grown familiar. He had branded it into his memory and could re-create it with his eyes closed.

His skin was tanned, a shade between local-light and tourist-brown. Bleached by the penetrating sun, his dark blond hair had developed a bright sheen and shouted his status as a permanent beach dweller. Leaning toward the mirror, he examined the creases that had begun to form along the corners of his eyes. It seemed premature for signs of aging to begin.

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Chapter 2

Her office was located on the far edge of Oxford, Ohio. Today, Meghan Harting would take her time getting there.

A quiet town about a half-hour from Cincinnati, Oxford was home to thousands of Miami University students, as well as a smattering of local residents who observed the migration of young adults to their hometown every autumn. As the community's largest source of revenue and employment, Miami had positioned itself as a force to be reckoned with. Plus, with a greater concentration on academics than a splashy athletic program, the university's football games provided an avenue for family entertainment that remained affordable.

A visitor to the town might imagine the significant slowdown the town must have experienced during the summer months. But Meghan had seen it firsthand. An Oxford native, Meghan had spent her entire life walking around campus with her dad. But these days, she found herself on site as a non-traditional, part-time student: part-time hours, part-time academic years, part-time class attendance. Since childhood, her casual attitude had surfaced much to her father's dismay, but he had grown to accept it as a distinct feature of her personality. Besides, with Travis Harting a professor at the institution, Meghan's tuition carried a hefty discount. And perhaps she would even locate a career path in the process.

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Chapter 3

The black convertible pealed from the drive-through window, past a stop sign at 30 miles an hour, and onto the suburban street. Summer breeze sent a rush through the teenagers' lungs.

This weekend, Meghan and her brother, Greg, had driven to northern Ohio in Meghan's car, separate from their parents, as the Hartings visited the Bales in Solon. And though a year older than his sister, Greg was content to let her drive so he could keep his freshly waxed vehicle at home, safe in the confines of the garage.

For all his research and study with the university, Meghan's father could not seem to understand the logic behind the separate vehicles. To Meghan, however, her car represented more than a mere ride; with her license in hand for a year, driving had emerged as her means of escape from the plastic world of high school. Plus, she had shaved an hour from her drive to Solon, courtesy of her lead foot.

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Subsidiary, foreign and film rights are available. If you are a publishing industry professional, feel free to contact John Herrick at represent(at)johnherrick.net.