Nick Novaczek is a cautious soul, a 17-year old with a quiet thirst for danger. On the eve of his grandmother’s funeral, danger finds him by the motel swimming pool. Her name is Celia and she’s everything he’s not. This foul-mouthed beauty is hitchhiking across the country to make amends with her estranged father and doesn’t carry an ounce of fear or hesitation in her tattered suitcase.
Hours after meeting Celia, Nick is hopelessly hooked and “borrows” his parents’ car to join her mission, even though her story is full of holes. It’s the mistake he’s been waiting his whole life to make. After weeks of detours, with hundreds of miles left to go, their wild adventure unravels, but she won’t turn back, no matter how desperate things get. Celia’s got a charming smile to pay her way, a willing accomplice, and an endless supply of lies. Not to mention a gun.
The fictional road trip takes forty-one days, beginning in Kingman, Arizona, where Nick and Celia meet for the first time. The breathtakingly beautiful hitchhiker who’s planning to walk all the way to New Jersey if she has to, no matter how long it takes, gets a ride with Nick, the clean-cut seventeen-year old who makes off with his parents’ car in hopes a spontaneous road trip adventure will give his boring life some meaning. He’s got nothing to lose and a hopeless crush, so he begs his way to making Celia his passenger by uttering the smoothest line of his young life: “This could be the best two thousand miles of our lives.”
Celia’s in charge of the map, even though she hasn’t a clue how to navigate, and Nick, who knows darn well they're going the wrong way more often than not, figures the longer it takes them to get to their destination, the more time he has to win Celia’s heart. They travel for weeks, going in zigzags, making countless pit stops along the way, sometimes to scheme and steal gas money, other times to take in the sights.
This map shows their inefficient route, the roads and places where their story unfolds. The blue dot over Bakersfield, California, represents Nick’s hometown, two thousand eight hundred and seventy-six miles away from the place Celia so desperately wants to get home to. They’re from completely different environments, living worlds apart, but when you spend forty-one days in the car with someone, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together, it has a way of making maps and miles meaningless.
This Celia on the Run-inspired photo gallery contains mostly my own work, snapshots from previous travels and close-ups of textures and shapes I didn’t want to forget. Each discolored and grainy picture represents a piece of Nick and Celia’s cross-country journey, and they’re shown in chronological order. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, between 50 pictures and a 90,000 word novel, I believe Nick and Celia’s story can be wholly shared.
My main characters, Nick and Celia, have almost nothing in common except for their love of legendary rock music from decades past. Throughout their trek across the US, the radio is on, the volume is up, and the music is more than just the background noise for their journey. When I’m writing a story like Celia on the Run, I can see the endless highway in my mind, I can feel the grit on my face, I can smell the Indian fry bread, and I can hear the music playing. I wanted you to hear it too.
The first music collection is called Nick and Celia’s Playlist. It’s what they would have rocked out to as they drove thousands of zig-zaggy miles from Arizona to New Jersey. Several of the songs from this list are specifically mentioned in the story. Nick and Celia were purists when it came to music and would be the first to point out that anything worth listening to was released between 1965 and 1975.
Unlike Nick and Celia, I’m a bit more eclectic, although Led Zeppelin holds a big chunk of my music-loving heart. The second playlist is my own personal Celia on the Run Soundtrack. These songs reminded me of the characters, carried the vibe of a certain scene in the story, and even inspired bits and pieces of the novel.
Nick and Celia’s Playlist
Celia on the Run Soundtrack