The Making of Hiding in Plain Sight

My new novel, ‘Hiding in Plain Sight‘ hit the virtual shelves almost a month ago. So far I’m thrilled with the response it’s been getting.

This is the first novel I’ve written specifically for a young adult audience. I was amazed at how comfortable this genre is for me. I guess that means that I haven’t completely grown up yet (which is a good thing in my humble opinion)

So, where did I get the idea for this book?

The first draft of this novel was written during NaNoWriMo 2009. At the stroke of 12 on November 1st I had four names and I knew one of the characters was an alien.

That’s it, That’s all.

My goal was to write a 50,000 word first draft by the end of the month. On November 30th, I had 55,000 words yet was nowhere near the end of my story. I stalled and procrastinated for another 6 months before I was forced into finishing it by a friend and fellow writer who wouldn’t let me alone until it was done (Thanks by the way). When I finished the first edit and send the final chapters off to my proof-readers we discovered that I’d made a fatal faux-pas – my ending happened without my main character. I had to re-write it, ditch the beautiful reconciliation scene and add in more action. The new version, I’m happy to say is much better.

As you can probably tell, I’m not much of a plotter. I break out in hives if I try to figure out what’s going to happen too far in advance. Sometimes I write my characters into a corner, but usually that just makes for a more interesting story as I write them back out again. For Hiding in Plain Sight, I was halfway through the first chapter when I realized that the whole family was from another planet and it wasn’t until later that I learned there were bad aliens coming to get them.

Why did I decide to use Saint John, New Brunswick as the setting?

Saint John is my hometown and I just pictured my characters there. I cheated a bit and had Hilary live in the house beside the one I grew up in. So when Ben moved in next door, he moved into my house. Alex, his little sister, has my old bedroom. Shannon lives in the the first house at the head of the subdivision across the street.

I say I cheated because I used a location I knew well. It meant that I didn’t have to put much effort into designing the setting, I simply pulled from my memories.

My characters went to Saint John High School, just like me. A lot has changed since I went there so I picked the brains of one of the SJHS teachers, who incidentally graduated with me. He updated me on the things that have changed since then and what hadn’t. A huge shout out to Peter Larsen. He was a huge help. FYI – if I got any of the details wrong, it’s my bad not his.

Where did I get the names for my characters?

My main character names are an ‘I never forgot you’ to my ex-husband’s nieces and nephew. I left when they were still really small, they probably don’t even remember me. But losing the ability to be part of their lives and watch them grow up was one of the hardest adjustments to make in the aftermath of my divorce.

The alien names were just jumbles of letters until something looked pronounceable. The name for the bad guys, the Hurliingen, is actually a misspelling of the Dutch word for pirate.

After writing this novel, I have a whole new appreciation for Tolkien and his ability to a) create so many names and b) keep them all straight. During my editing process I discovered at least three spellings for Myonus and four for the Hurliingen. I am in awe of any writer who has mastered this task.

If I’ve made you curious (I hope) and you’re interested in buying the Hiding in Plain Sight to read for yourself (crosses fingers) go to

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