7 Oct 2015

Thirteen by Shannon Peel

An action packed blockbuster. Red Dawn meets 1984. The perfect book for kids 10-14, even those who don't like to read.
Jack wants to hang out with his friends but his mom's rules keep him grounded until they wake up to machine gun fire and everything has changed. Foreign soldiers have invaded his hometown cutting off power, shutting down communications, and restricting travel. To make matters worse, he doesn't know if his dad is alive, wounded, captured, or dead. He wants to find him, however, his mother doesn't care, the soldiers are in his way, and the cop who busted him is no help at all.
Feedback from a 92 year old great grandmother: My comment on it, is that Shannon did a wonderful job of writing Thirteen. It was well written, and the description of events was well thought out. It was exciting, scary at times, and sad as well. It's a book worth reading. -- OK so it was my 92 year old grandmother...Amazon.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
THIRTEEN is a mother / son story and their power struggle as he grows up. It's a coming of age story during a time in every boys life where he is no longer a boy and not yet a man. Thirteen is a tough age, lots of instant freedoms and desires to find oneself. It is also a geo political story about an invasion of Canada's Westcoast by a foreign power. Jack and his mom are caught in the global politics of an international struggle for power.

What inspired you to write it?
When my son was 8 years old I met a lost boy of South Sudan when I was emceeing a charity event and he was the speaker. His story about being an 8 year old boy walking across Sudan with a group of boys on their own to find safety in Ethiopia was heart wrenching. Starving, no water, bombs dropping, and wild animals attacking in the night. At 8 years old this boy was one of the oldest responsible for caring for younger boys, finding food, water, carrying for them when they were sick and burying them when they died.
This chance meeting inspired me to write a story about children in war so others would understand their plight, however, this man's story was not mine to write and every time I tried to write about a war in Africa it jumped the reader out of the empathy I hoped to inspire. It became other - their problem, oh yeah well that's Africa, it's sad but has little to do with me.
One day when my son was 13 the idea to bring the war to Canada came to me. As I was also battling a war with this thing that looked and sounded like my son but did not behave like him I brought this struggle into the story as well. I searched out mother / son stories and didn't find any.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
There is a lot symbolism in fire. It destroys, cleanses, and keeps you warm. The story itself has fire in it and I wanted something that portrayed something dark, dangerous, and anarchy. So I Googled photos of riots. I found this photo on istock and purchased it, ran it through a couple digital photo filters and had the image.
I had a couple of other cover ideas as well and put them all on my Facebook page to get some feedback. This one was hands down the favourite for inspiring interest in the story.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Interesting question, especially since I have a screenwriter begging to convert it into a movie.
Jack - This one is hard, cause I don't really know. Teen actors grow so fast and change so much. Every time I think of Jack I think of my son.
Sydney the mom - Lauren Graham, Ashley Judd, Colbie Smuthers,
Nick the cop - Gerard Butler, Channing Tatum, Chris O'Donnel

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
It's the first of a series. I've already started Book 2 and it's going to be a bit James Bond, a bit prison break, with a huge surprise secret reveal.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
It is set in Canada's WestCoast city of South Surrey / White Rock and Vancouver area. I set it there because I wanted to bring the war to Canada, I live in the area, and for the geopolitical plot that will develop over time it works. I am a proud Canadian and Vancouver is the most filmed city depicting other places in TV and film. You'd be surprised how many of your favourite shows and movies were shot here. It's never Vancouver and I think a good action story can be set in Vancouver, BC Canada and still appeal to a global audience

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I like Upper Middle Grade action / adventure because you can explore different relationships, not just romantic ones. Kids in this age group aren't ready for relationships yet but they want to read the YA novels because they are more challenging than the usual upper middle grade stuff. I wanted to write something for boys that would grab their attention and imaginations quickly. Something fast paced with little descriptive narrative to keep the interest of those boys who find reading challenging. I don't believe kids in this age group need to be talked down to as much as they are in books. They are intelligent young people who can have interesting conversations with adults.

What made you want to become an author?
I love stories. I always wanted to write. I was jealous of authors and wanted to be one, however I never had the confidence. Support from family is important when you are thinking about a career in the arts and I didn't have that. My parents wanted me to have a real job and writing wasn't a real job. I went on a ride along with a journalist and since I didn't ask a lot of questions he said I wouldn't make it as a journalist and I believed him. I didn't realize that I ask questions in my own way, I'm more observant than inquisitive, still I have a burning need to understand the why and how.
I never believed I could be a writer. I envied writers and wanted to be one, just didn't believe I had the talent, until one day I decided to try. I look back at articles I wrote for local newsletters, blog entries, and even research papers and wonder how I thought I wasn't good enough.

How do you come up with character names?
I always loved the names Jack and Sydney. They were both on the lists for my kids but weren't chosen in the end. Nick is my best friend's name. She has been my biggest cheerleader and support throughout the process.

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?
Yes I'm not very good at naming anything. I still want a better name for the series than THIRTEEN and I have no idea what Book 2 is going to be called, besides Book 2.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Jane Eyre. I love her independence and men like Rothschild.

Who, or what, inspires you?
My children.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I am a single full time mother and I have a full time paying gig. I write in coffee shops, on my couch, wherever I can. If I could chose to take some time just to write I'd go to my family cabin and write there over looking the lake in the spring or fall when no one was around and the wifi was shut off.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Inkheart. I know the franchise didn't go anywhere but I thought it was true to the story and well done. My children and I shared the book and the movie, it was our favourite.

Name two of your favourite authors.
That's hard. I don't really have 2 favourites. There are books that I love but I never read anything else by the author. There are series that I get right into and then get board of when the formula remains the same and the stories become predictable. Some character's I fall in love with, while others I admire or loath. No two authors have consistently wowed me with everything they've written.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I am one quarter Romanian and 3/4 the British Isles. All my grandparents were born in Canada and 1/2 my great grandparents as well, so I don't have any ties to culture beyond Canada.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Lauren Graham - I am definitely a Gilmore Type mom.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I live on Canada's Westcoast near the US / Canada border. It doesn't snow very often here, our winters are rainy more than snowy. I prefer snow and miss Albertan weathers of -40 with sunny skies.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
To continue with Jack's story until it's done. Then I have another book on the back burner, a bit more autobiographical in nature about finding oneself after divorce, learning how to date in the 21st Century after 20 years of marriage, and figuring out who she is beyond mother and wife.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
The main thing on my bucket list is to move to Paris France for 6 months and write in small cafes and integrate into the culture. This is a lifelong dream and one I hope to do one day after the kids are grown and gone.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
None. Myths and fairytales have their place in the world of story telling but they are fantasy with no basis in reality. They have been told over and over in so many different ways that they've lost their surprise, their uniqueness, their power.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a single career woman... I didn't do that. I was a career woman for awhile, but then I made other decisions and ended up with two amazing children I changed my life for. I would not change it. I do wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed in the financial world and worked my way up a corporate ladder. I like to think I would have been lonely. I would have been a very different person.

Shannon Peel grew up in Enderby, BC where her family's root run deep. Growing up where television was either non existent or very limited she relied on books & imagination to escape into the world beyond.
She went to UBC to study and earn a general studies BA with a concentration in Political Science and Economics. Macro analysis of world events, social justice and human motivations became a passion of hers. This passion is a driving force in all her stories, which have political, economic, and social justice undercurrents.
After a career in the financial field she decided to stay home and raise her two children until school age. In 2007 she return to the workforce as a sales / marketing / advertising professional. She currently resides in BC's Lower Mainland with her two teenage children.
THIRTEEN is her debut full size paperback novel. She also is the author of an adult fantasy series, JOURNIES IN ELADONIA, consisting of ebook novellas. Website

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