…the ones about unlikely friendships, classic sports moments, maybe a tear-jerking scene or two? Well, those are the kind of screenplays I’ve had the great fortune to write. My name’s Mike Rich and my best-known works are Finding Forrester (Sean Connery’s character was named after my high school English teacher), The Rookie, Radio, Secretariat and Cars 3. I wrote those stories because they’re stories I love myself—and it’s the reason I decided to put pen-to-paper to write Skavenger’s Hunt.
I grew up in a small town in northeastern Oregon. Population 2000. Not much to do…which was why big, sweeping magical stories meant the world to me. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The Wizard of Oz. Stories I got lost in.
I’m so happy to present you with my first novel, which was inspired by (and a tribute to) those classic, adventurous tales of childhood. Within the first few pages, Skavenger’s Hunt poses the question:
What if there was one man, more than a hundred years ago, who held the first, greatest, most elaborate hunt ever? And what if that man’s name, Hunter S. Skavenger, was the reason—lost-to-history—for calling these hunts what we do today?
Better yet…what if this greatest of hunts was never solved, but all the clues remained?
Skavenger’s Hunt is the story of 12-year-old Henry Babbitt; a good-hearted, intelligent kid still reeling from the sudden loss of his beloved father—a man who promised his son that one day they would sail somewhere, climb mountains, take part in great adventures.
Adventures that never were, unfortunately, after Henry’s father died in a car accident at West 96th and Riverside in New York. Adventures that Henry’s mother, Eloise, understandably tried to shield her only child from even thinking about anymore.
But when Henry’s eccentric grandfather, on a snowy Christmas Eve night, tells him the legend of the mysterious Skavenger and the lost clues the old man himself tried to find—it sets into motion a late-night enchanting moment that places Henry—and Henry alone—back in the year 1885. Back at the precise moment and location where the greatest of hunts was about to begin.
The adventures that never were…become the adventure Henry and his late father could never have dreamed of taking.
Henry knows the key to getting back home rests with Skavenger himself, and that the only way to meet the enigmatic puzzler is by winning the hunt that stumped thousands a century-and-a-half earlier. He teams up with a rag-tag trio of 19th century youngsters, each determined to solve the unsolvable for their own reasons. Ernie, orphaned when his parents were murdered in New York’s notorious Five Points. Mattie, a whip-smart girl able to match wits with the most brilliant of hunters. And Jack, who has the street smarts to know there’s something untold about Henry.
The elaborate hunt begins in New York’s Central Park, but doesn’t stay there for long. Those clever enough to solve the first clues journey throughout the still young United States, while others gamble on crossing the Atlantic Ocean for Europe. Iconic, historic locations await them – as does a cast of literary heroes, inventive geniuses and business legends. But also awaiting them is Skavenger’s lethal rival: the menacing Hiram Doubt and his malevolent Dark Men. Not only must Henry and Company solve every clue in the great contest—they’ll have to stay ahead of Doubt and his agents of danger to do it.
So there’s your springboard for Skavenger…and I hope that short description sparks in you the same memories of the stories I mentioned earlier. The ones I got lost in when I was a child. Back in 1999, shortly before I left home for New York to watch the filming of Finding Forrester, I asked a friend what advice he had for me as I embarked on this wonderful, amazing journey of writing. He offered a simple answer.
Tell stories you’ll be excited to share with your grandchildren.
I didn’t have grandchildren then…but I do now. Three beautiful souls who snuggle next to me when I pull out books to read to them.
It takes my breath away thinking of the day I’ll tell them this story – with roots that first took hold long ago when I was the one snuggling up to listen. I’d be honored if you choose to share that journey with me now.
Let the adventure begin…