In case you missed this on the Lockdown page, here is the latest news on this novel:

Lockdown has arrived. It is listed in the Fall 2014 magazine Best Books for Kids & Teens, published by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. (p. 27)


 Word count: 220    Reading time: 1 min

As NaNoWriMo draws to a close, I’ve almost finished ploughing the field of my next YA novel. That’s right: I almost have a 50,000 word starting point. Or to borrow from Anne Lamott’s wonderful book Bird by Bird, I almost have a shitty first draft, a SFD. Emphasis on S.

That’s okay because I know the field needs more than ploughing. It needs harrowing and levelling as well. Revision is the harrowing and levelling of writing and I won’t start that for at least a month. What I will do is let it lie fallow so I can come back with a fresh perspective that allows me to see the plot lumps and the character weeds. Then I’ll read the whole thing, cover to cover, and try to sustain an attitude of confident optimism as I splash the pages with red ink. 

Before then, I have another field that needs attention. From January to October this year I rewrote last year’s NaNoWriMo effort many times. A YA novel, Lockdown takes place in Vancouver during a natural disaster. I believe it’s almost ready for harvesting.  

What’s growing in your paddocks? Are you working several crops at once? Do you rest your work? Or are you the mythical being who can produce a flawless tale in a single writing?

Photo by: Anna Fredriccsson

Unreal Fiction

Word count: 304                                                                                                          Reading time: 2 mins

Some books aren’t meant to depict reality. Yet the characters that populate fantasy, sci fi or futuristic worlds are often compelling to the point where everyday dramas pale in comparison.

In Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother Marcus Yarrow is swept up in a Department of Homeland Security dragnet and taken to Treasure Island for interrogation. When teenaged Marcus is released from prison he discovers that in a mania of paranoia and electronic surveillance every citizen is now a terrorism suspect. His dangerous response to this threat propels the reader on a heart-racing chase through the streets of San Francisco. At every point of the way the characters are three-dimensional and completely persuasive.   

I burned through book two (Catching Fire) of the Hunger Games trilogy in three days. What a buzz! Reading it was like white water rafting, one breathless turn after another. Suzanne Collins’s alternate world feels allegorical even if it wasn’t intended that way. The Capitol of Panem has ruthlessly destroyed the middle class and now uses its hapless citizens as fodder to be violently murdered for mass entertainment. Is there a parallel universe where capital markets destroy jobs, ruin futures, and threaten to further erode the shrinking middle class? Both worlds – Panem and ours – have ruling classes that show little mercy to those unlucky enough not to shelter behind their golden gates. 

The next book in my stack is Tender Morsels by Australian writer Margo Lanagan. I have her collection of short stores Black Juice and I know the different worlds she creates and the riveting characters she delivers. Tender Morsels is a YA fantasy. I will start reading it tonight. It’s likely to give me nightmares though, because she is that convincing.

What books have haunted you? What images linger years after you've closed the covers?