Susan Juby doesn’t remember the last time she did a reading of her work in Nanaimo but the local author and VIU professor is making up for it by offering a sneak peek of a pair of unpublished books.
On Feb. 22 Juby will be at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library to read excerpts from At Your Service, an adult crime comedy about a former Buddhist nun investigating a murder at a Gulf Island new age retreat centre, and Me 3, a middle-grade book about a boy whose father has been accused of “impropriety” with women with whom he works.
During the discussion portion, Juby said she’s open to covering “just about anything that’s not completely off-topic.” She said that could include her writing and revision process, the publishing industry and the subject matter she’s tackling in her books.
“I’ll bring up what they’re about and we can have a conversation about that, including about is it appropriate for middle graders to get any exposure to the MeToo movement. How would you approach that? Because I have,” she said.
Both books are firsts for Juby. At Your Service being her debut crime novel for adults, while Me 3 is her first book aimed for middle-grade students. She said she wrote them simultaneously and doesn’t “pander to gatekeepers” when writing for different age groups.
“What I’m trying to do is just authentically create characters who are the age that they are,” she explained. “So if have a 33-year-old former Buddhist nun, I want to inhabit that consciousness. And if I’m writing about a 12-year-old whose family has suddenly fallen apart and who comes to terms with what’s happened, I want to inhabit that consciousness in as authentic a way as I can.”
Juby, a self-described “crime junkie,” has been working on At Your Service for the past three and a half years, long by her standards. She said she’s hoping to turn it into a series, “so it’s taken me a really long time to get the first one right.” Juby said she’s nearly done the first draft. She’s read portions of it in the past, but she’ll go further into the book on Feb. 22.
This will be the first time Juby reads from Me 3, her take on a child’s eye view of the MeToo movement. She said it’s important to discuss issues like consent and personal boundaries with middle-grade children, who range from eight to 12 years old.
“Before kids turn into teenagers, that’s when they’re developing a lot of their ideas about who they’re going to be in relationship to the opposite sex or what their ideas are about girls versus boys and boundaries…” she said. “So I hope that the book will start some conversations.”
WHAT’S ON … Susan Juby author reading at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library, 90 Commercial St., on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 2 to 4 p.m.