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.