About the Writing of Porcupine

When my agent was trying to sell Gemma she sent it to Doug Pepper at McCleeland & Stewart. He read it and then gave it to Kathy Lowinger at Tundra, the children’s branch of their publishing house. She felt that Gemma was most emphatically not appropriate for teens, but approached me to see if I would be interested in attempting to write a novel for young adults.

I was.

We were raised without TV. Money was very tight with so many children in the family and only my mother working, so purchasing the great quantities of books that us children consumed was not an option. However, the library was! We lived for library day, when we would take the ferry over to the mainland, load up on a weeks worth of groceries and a weeks worth of books. And with so many brothers and sisters, we were able to check out a massive amount of books. In many ways I always felt that books saved me as a child.

They gave me windows into other peoples lives, showed me there were other ways of doing things,

other people who survived hardships and how they coped. They showed me what was possible. Or there were the comforting books of normal everyday life with a mother and a father and warm cookies after school. I also loved the historical books that would take dried up, dusty old history and make it real, tangible, engrossing. There were magical books that filled my heart with hopes and dreams, of fairy tales and escape and maybe someday it would happen to me. The library and the books it supplied was a great source of comfort to me as a child and young adult.

So, when I received the letter from Kathy Lowinger suggesting that I try writing for Young Adult, it was an incredibly exciting idea to me. It was like I was being handed an opportunity to speak to myself when I was young. I wanted to write the kind of book that I would have enjoyed. A book that would have helped me. Made me feel seen, heard, my experience validated.

I had several ideas rolling around in my head, then one day, Jack, a 12 year old girl,

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