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Friday, 9 September 2016

Beginnings of two Middle Readers: Punch-Out! and The Search for the Ugg

Temporary cover design for book. 
The images help me to edit text down to the basics. 
Back in Thunder Bay for a couple months, I've been working on first drafts for two novels, both middle readers. (Special thanks again to Ahti Tolvanen for use of his space! I wouldn't be getting all this work done without his help.) Which novel gets attention at any one time depends on my mood and which story's "voice" begs the most for completion. It's some kind of internal moral drive attached to themes needing to be unearthed. Audience reaction to my previous books has given me much more confidence in my work, so I truly believe I can have a positive effect in a child's life and beyond. Punch-Out!, set in Thunder Bay and various small towns in Mexico is a story of a boy named Devin who has a few adventures when he is signed up for an exchange program. He deals with the kind of violence that occurred in my childhood. I was only peripherally involved, taking on one bully (the basis for the first chapter) by getting him to follow me along a fence from which he fell into a yard protected by an angry dog. Set in a time when Thunder Bay was one of the most violent cities in Canada the story deals with realistic growing pains and some of the thrills involved in growing up. To add further dimension to the story one of the characters, Jimmy, is a tall and lanky First Nations kid who provides insight into what it means to be an indigenous boy growing up amongst the children of immigrant parents. Jimmy suffers his own growing pains witnessed by Devin, including two violent encounters that further bond the two boys. Devin's sister and his new friend in Mexico, Veronica, are secondary characters whose story lines build throughout the novel to become equally important to the underlying themes of the novel. Although I have no imagery yet for Punch-Out! this book may not need imagery, mostly because it's based on a number of true stories from a couple of my experiences and those of Mexican friends who gave me an idea of what life was like for them in Mexico when they were children. Potential illustrations for this story might be superfluous and a hard fit with the general mood. Special thanks to my hosts in Texcoco.
     Punch-Out! appears to have heavier themes in comparison to The Search for the Ugg, which is a fun fantasy journey with mad-cap characters, but there is a strong message about Canada needing to go green. (We are big polluters. Each Canadian contributes about 350 times the average CO2 emissions of the majority of people on the planet.) The protagonists have to deal with issues surrounding the Tar Sands, running out of oil, pipelines, protests and being forced to find other methods of travel. It's fun to deal with issues and have characters react in different ways. One of the protagonists is Silver, a First Nations university student who is asked by the mayor to chase down the Ugg on her own. While everyone else heads off in the wrong direction, Silver finds the Ugg and gives him a mission, one that causes havoc.
Dr. Yes tries out new foods outside of the International Fast Food Restaurant.
     When I write I do so directly into InDesign to format the text with the images, which is phenomenally  easier than having to write the text first and then create and place the illustrations later. Creating imagery simultaneously with the design will save a great deal of time and trouble.  
    All this fun work has to be balanced with selling my other books at markets and festivals and staying on top of getting groceries and paying rent, costs of which have gone up dramatically in Thunder Bay in the last couple years.

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