Since returning to her Greater Victoria roots Maggie Bolitho has immersed herself in the writing culture here.
Now the seeds she planted prior to her Island return are coming to fruition. The Oak Bay fiction writer published her debut young adult novel Lockdown, recently released by Great Plains Teen Fiction.
The story follows Rowan Morgan, who thinks she’s prepared when a great earthquake devastates the Pacific Northwest. At her father’s insistence, she and her brother have taken first aid courses and learned to fish and hunt. But she quickly learns there is more to emergency preparation than stockpiling food.
Disasters change people.
Bolitho feels her desire to centre the story around a disaster scenario started with a personal connection while she lived in Sydney, Australia and their home backed onto 10,000 acres of parkland.
“That’s a red zone in terms of ever-present bushfire threat. I can remember an entire month when the car was never unpacked. It remained stuffed full of irreplaceable belongings, insurance policies, pet food and a few changes of clothes,” she said.
“As members of the community fire unit, we kept our overalls at the end of the bed and slept with a window open so we could hear if the sirens moved closer to our house.”
Her husband is from Austrailia and so she spent two decades living there. She made her return to the Island last spring, when the couple settled into Oak Bay and began renovations on their home.
“Victoria was always his favourite city in Canada,” Bolitho said.
She’s been dabbling in writing for more than a decade. Short stories are a forté, with a half dozen published that earned awards, prizes and distinctions.
Lockdown is her first novel, she started sending it out to publishing houses in 2012, after three-and-a-half years of development.
“A lot of that was just on the shelf. And I do have to shelve things. I have to let it compost … and come back to see what my characters are doing.” she said. “I rewrote this start to finish at least three times.”
Lockdown was named in The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s “Best Books for Kids & Teens” Fall 2014 edition.
“I really like reading young adult [novels],” she said. “It’s for young adults and the increasing adult who is reading young adult [literature]. It really does have a wide audience.”
The book is available at Ivy’s Books in Oak Bay and Munro’s Books in downtown Victoria or reach out to the author at maggiebolitho.com. The GVPL will also stock six copies with a place in their Emerging Local Authors collection in April.