That’s My Boy

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Us

Readers familiar with my background know that I have an intellectually disabled, neurodiverse son, and readers familiar with my work know that intellectual disability and neurodiversity feature in the novels Kindling, Are You Seeing Me? and Munro vs. the Coyote / Exchange of Heart.

Inevitably, the question has arisen:

“Is that your boy on the page?”

The long answer is I used aspects of his manner, language, attitude and interests as a jumping-off point to create characters that assumed their own living, breathing, authentic fictional lives. The short answer is no.

My new novel Boy in the Blue Hammock will be out next spring and, surprise surprise, it centres an intellectually disabled, neurodiverse protagonist. And already I can hear the question again, distant but persistent, making its way towards me like I’m a destination on Google Maps:

“Is that your boy on the page?”

My answer this time around?

Yes.

Absolutely, yes.

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Square Peg…No Hole?

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Sans round hole?

“Not a great fit for us…”

“Doesn’t really fit our list…”

“You’ll find a better fit elsewhere…”

Any author who’s ever had work rejected is familiar with these statements. Over 20 years and eight novels, I’ve had my fair share of ‘fitness’ fails and I’ve come to understand it’s sometimes literal, more often publisher shorthand for ‘We don’t think it will sell’ or ‘We don’t love it’ or ‘We don’t love it enough’. Typically, I would shake it off and saddle up for the next response, hope springing eternal from decisions not yet made.

The eighteen months of contractual futility that haunted my upcoming 2022 novel, Boy in the Blue Hammock, though? It was different. The parade of passes based on fit seemed to be communicating a new shorthand, not so much a situation of square peg / round hole.

It felt like square peg…no hole?

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Wear It With Pride

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An imaginary jacket worn by failed guide dog protagonist, Tao, plays a key role in Boy in the Blue Hammock. It gives him courage and strength in moments when he might falter. It brings with it the voice of Trainer. It permits him to do things beyond the limits of his lesser self.

He is proud of the jacket.

As I am of this one:

Many thanks to the Nightwood Editions team and their designers for this beautiful cover. And to my CAN/US agents, Olga Filina and Ali McDonald for their expert input during the process.

Boy in the Blue Hammock will be published April 30, 2022.

It is available for pre-order here.

‘Boy in the Blue Hammock’ – The Teaser

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Spring 2022, to be specific.

In a time of isolation and scarcity, a regressive regime rules with absolute power, turning neighbour against neighbour, and crushing dissidence with deadly force. A microcosm of this monstrous time: the tiny Pacific Northwest town of Gilder.

In a house on the fringes of the decimated hamlet, Tao – a failed service dog turned pet – wakes to find his leash tied to the stair, his hind leg broken and his family killed. With the world he knows shattered, there is one course of action: lay with his slain masters and wait for the enemy – the “hounds” – to return and end his life.

But it is not the hounds that find him – it is Kasper, fifteen years old, disabled, limited ability to speak, sole survivor of the family. With the discovery of Boy, Tao understands he now has a duty: guide the last living member of his pack through the ravaged streets of Gilder to safety. The destination? The only refuge he can conceive of in a world gone mad?

The site of his training five years before.

Boy in the Blue Hammock is an epic tale of loss and loyalty, of dissent and destruction, of assumption and ableism. With a powerful narrative and evocative prose, the novel poses one of the important questions of our time: when evil silences the people, who will protect those without a voice?

COMING SPRING 2022  

Five Years On, Still Seen

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AYSM - Cover With Quote 2

It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the fifth anniversary of Are You Seeing Me? coming into the world.

The little novel about Justine and Perry’s last glorious vacation together was released August 2014 and things would never quite be the same for its grateful author.

It managed to do amazing things, including this.

And this.

And even this.

Perhaps most impressively, it has managed to stick around, still getting read here, still being discussed there.

To celebrate AYSM’s continuing journey, I thought I’d share a little bit of the behind-the-scenes that shaped the novel we know today. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about AYSM.

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Rapture in Blue

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IB Cover

Behold the cover for Infinite Blue, a contemporary fable penned by Simon Groth and his dodgy older brother. It’s hitting North American shelves September 11, 2018.

All credit for this beauty goes to the brilliant pair responsible: artist Iveta Karpathyova and Orca Books designer Teresa Bubela. If you’d like a peek inside the creative process, Iveta has posted a couple of cool videos here and here.

Counting the days!

Ceaseless Wonder

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Phil Advice

quickmeme.com

With the AUS/NZ release of my new novel a mere four weeks away, here’s a little insight into the wondering that produced the tale.

Exchange of Heart / Munro vs. the Coyote grew from two story seeds.

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Heart On My Jacket

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Exchange of Heart Cover

A second round of cover goodness has arrived – this one, the Aussie front for my new YA novel out later this year, titled Exchange of Heart in Oz.

Fans of Are You Seeing Me? might be pleased to see the similarities in style, design and font. I’m pleased to see that I did indeed write Are You Seeing Me? and it wasn’t all just a lovely dream.

If you’re in Australia and wish to pre-order Exchange of Heart, you can do so here.

If you’re in Canada/US and wish to pre-order Munro vs. the Coyote, you can do so here.

‘Exchange of Heart’ – The Stuck-in-an-Elevator Pitch

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Sometimes, Life takes on a life of its own…

Since the sudden death of his younger sister, Munro Maddux has been stuck. Flashbacks. Anger. Chest pains. And a voice – taunting, barking, biting – that his counsellor calls ‘the Coyote’. Munro knows a student exchange will not be the stuff of Disney movies. But in Australia he intends to move beyond his troubled past.

Forced by his new school to join a volunteer program, Munro discovers the Coyote is silenced in one place: Fair Go, an assisted living residence in Brisbane’s west, where Munro gets to know his team of residents: dogged designer Bernie; sleeping refugee Shah; would-be wedded couple Blake and Dale; comic creator Iggy; and self-defence tutor Florence. As this unlikely group shows Munro the sights, Munro’s notion of what it means to be a big brother begins to change.

But the burden Munro carries is not so easily cast aside, and unexpected developments at Fair Go prompt a devastating flashback that threatens to end the student exchange. Will the Coyote ultimately triumph? Or can Munro find the fortitude necessary to mend his heart?

‘Funny-sad, authentic and uplifting – Groth is a writer who can pivot from heartbreak to humour without missing a beat.’ Vikki Wakefield, author of All I Ever Wanted

Exchange of Heart will be published in AUS/NZ July 31, 2017. In CAN/US, the book will be released October 17, 2017 under the title Munro vs. the Coyote.
You can mark it as ‘to-read’ on Goodreads here and here.

Coyote Uncovered

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img_2063

My brand new YA novel is coming out this year. In North America, it’s titled Munro vs. the Coyote and the cover looks a little like the awesomeness above.

Not bad, eh?

Every image within the Coyote’s head speaks to moments, elements and characters in the story.

I can’t wait to see this jacket on the real deal come October.

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