Plain Kate (2010)
(a novel for young adults)
In a market town by a looping river there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate ….
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.
Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.
Just out from Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic) and simultaneously from Scholastic Canada.
The Mongoose Diaries (2007)
When my oldest daughter was a newborn, I used to send weekly bits of my diary to friends and family. After hearing a few dozen times that “you ought to write a book” — I did.
But while the e-mails where sweet if slightly hysterical, the book is sharper and wilder, still funny but also full of the strangeness of becoming a mom. Diary entries frame essays and poems, and chart my first pregnancy, the death of my beloved sister, and my journey into motherhood with my baby mongoose, Vivian.
Published in 2007 by Wolsak and Wynn (Toronto)
Seal up the Thunder (2005)
(poetry for adults)
So, I wrote a book of poems about the Bible. Does it sound like the last thing you want to read? It’s the last thing I ever imagined writing. But sometimes great passions surprise us.
My favorite description of Thunder is this anonymous comment from Amazon.com: At last, poetry on scripture that is not saccharine or smarmy - not shy of difficulties and doubt - not proselytizing, not plastic - a rejoicing book, the work of an honest believer.
Published in 2005 by Wolsak and Wynn (Toronto)
Ghost Maps: Poems for Carl Hruska (2003)
(poetry for adults)
Once upon a time, I was trying to write a novel about WWII. In trying to figure out they everyday lives of my characters — what’s in their pockets, how do you sleep in foxholes — I met a veteran, an ex-infantryman who lost a leg at the Battle of the Bulge. He agreed to help me with my questions, on the condition that we not discuss his own story.
What neither of us realized was how intimate the everyday was. Slowly we grew close, and slowly, the details of his own story came loose. When he died a year later, he left me his combat infantry badge.
I put my novel aside, and tried to honor my friend’s stories. Six years later, I found my way to this book of poems.
Published in 2003 by Wolsak and Wynn (Toronto)