New YA novel explores grief, guts, and healing at high altitudes

by Conrad on February 3, 2014

9780544232693_lresDear Readers,

I’m happy to announce that my new young-adult novel will be released on April 8 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY is the story of Arlo Santiago, a seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie who catches the eye of the U.S. military with his top ranking on a drone warfare video game.

Arlo, who lives in a dusty corner of New Mexico, joins the military’s drone program but grows increasingly troubled by the blurred line between simulation and reality. Meanwhile, he’s got a father who drinks, a dangerously ill younger sister, and a girlfriend who won’t let him run from his past. He’s still healing, emotionally, from a violent death in his family.

I was recently asked by the West Seattle Herald to describe how Arlo and Jonathan, the narrator in my previous YA novel, differ. I like how the reporter summed it up:

“Betraying his love for the Beatles, Wesselhoeft explains that Jonathan (ADIOS, NIRVANA) is a poet-philosopher like John Lennon—loud, caustic, and vulnerable. Arlo is more like George Harrison—quiet, spiritual, and escapist. Both are young men at a developmental stage of their life, haunted by grief, and confronted with a crossroad.” (Here’s a link to the article.)

I’ll be speaking at Barnes & Noble in West Seattle at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 7. This is part of the “Words, Writers, and West Seattle” series sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. My main focus will be on ADIOS, NIRVANA, which is set in West Seattle, but I’m going to sneak in a reference to DIRT BIKES, too.

If you live in the Seattle area, please join me.

Best wishes,


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Barbara Lennhoff March 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Wish I could have gone, Conrad! Sometimes I wish I still lived in Seattle …

Anyway, looking forward to reading the new book!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: