• carolanneshaw


Updated: Apr 27


I hope April finds you all well, and that summer will be a more hopeful one than our last.

I'm thrilled to have finally finished my latest young adult novel, THE PECULIAR LANGUAGE OF LLAMAS. Honestly, it was so much fun to write! So much so, I could not let Myles and the gang go even after I wrote "THE END" on the novel's last page.

So, there was only one thing to do: write book #2 (tentatively called, THE TAO OF TALKING TO TURKEYS) Yep; that's what I'm going to be doing all summer.

When all is said and done, there will be three books—all part of what I'm calling "The Garcia Island Chronicles." (They say good things come in 3s, right?) I'm pretty excited about this series.

Anyway, if you're interested in THE PECULIAR LANGUAGE OF LLAMAS, I'm leaving you with a little snippet from the novel which you can read below. And if you'd like to purchase the eBook, you can pre-order it here:

(There will also be a paperback version which will be released at some point over the summer months.)

Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by, and remember... LIVE, LOVE, LLAMA!



An Alien Landscape

Have you ever felt as though you've been plucked from a perfect life and deposited on a completely alien planet? You wake up one day, only to find everything you thought you knew has morphed into something unrecognizable? That's what happened to me a couple of days ago. I was snatched from the familiar buzz and whir of the city and dumped on a rural B.C. gulf island—one where feral sheep run wild and the Wifi is sketchy at best. Welcome, new friends, to Garcia Island.

The move was all Dad's idea, so we now live at the south end of Garcia in a bona fide log cabin; really just one big room. There is a bathroom and my bedroom (aka closet) at one end, and a kitchen and Dad's slightly bigger "closet," at the other. In the middle of the living area sits a wood stove resembling a giant vintage teapot. I think it must be at least a hundred years old. It says 'Winterson' on the front of it. Apparently, this is how we will be heating our new home. This also requires that we split wood. With an axe. In the rain.

Log cabins are cool, I guess, but the place is kind of dark. Dad says the previous renter of the cabin was into hunting and fishing and stuff, which accounts for the stuff the left behind: a stuffed bass on the wall just inside the door, and a couch made from alder logs lashed together with dried deer tendons or something.

Anyway, there are cobwebs on the ceiling, old rat traps on the porch, and I even found a tiny, dried mouse in front of the stove two seconds after we "moved in." It had a fruit loop (orange) clutched between its little petrified paws. I hope this isn't some kind of omen.

My room has a one window that opens sideways at one end and a leaky skylight in the middle of the ceiling. All that fits into the space is my twin bed and a three-drawer dresser. That's it, and when I stand up straight, the top of my head almost touches the ceiling. I think the room used to be a tool shed, but whoever lived here before Dad and I moved in must have dragged the structure across the yard and nailed it to the side of the cabin. I think this is because there are faint outlines of garden tools drawn on one of the plywood walls, made with a black felt pen: hammers and garden shears and such.

If I look out the window, I have a clear view of the alpacas that live next door. Wow. I never knew alpacas were such dicks! When Dad and I were unpacking the van this afternoon, I went over to say hello, and the biggest one—a brown and white dude with an embarrassing 90s boy-band haircut—spat right in my face. Nice, eh?

Dad said that all llamas spit and that I shouldn't take it personally, and I said. I thought they were alpacas, to which he didn't even bother to reply. He just heaved out his lazy-boy recliner from the back of the van and motioned for me to pick up an end.

I think Dad is under the impression that he will suddenly be transformed into some super-rugged outdoors person by moving to this tiny island. This morning he put on a flannel shirt and Levi's, which was bizarre because my father has never worn a pair of jeans in his life, at least not that I'm aware of. And when we got off the ferry, we made a stop at the general store, and he bought an axe and a giant coil of rope. When I asked him what the rope was for, he just shrugged and said, "Dunno, but I feel like rope might be a good thing for us rural folk to have on hand." Yeah. He actually said that: us rural folk.

It gets worse. After the van was unloaded, I heard Dad talking to The Llama Whisperer next door, a thirty-something woman named Misty. She's pretty and lives in a rambling farmhouse with her seventy-one-year-old father, Norm. I heard Dad say, as he leaned casually against the fence, "This change is going to be great for Myles. I think it'll really help toughen him up." And I'm like, excuse me? What does he mean, toughen me up? I am seriously offended. My own father, selling me out to our hot neighbour before all our stuff is even out of the van. Thanks a lot, Dad.

What makes it even worse is that Dad told me an hour ago that Misty has invited us to dinner tomorrow night. I argued that we should chill out and maybe make some burgers on the ol' barby and crack a couple of beers, but my dad just said, "Myles, it's not BBQing season; it's the middle of December, and you are only fourteen years old, so nix on the beer. And we're going to Misty and Norm's, so don't even think about getting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or anything."

Right—like being a hypochondriac is something I choose to be for the sheer joy of it.


Still Life with Gallstones

I think my dad has a crush on Misty. He is way more interested in alpacas/llamas and the nature of their fleece than any normal father should be. Yesterday, right before dinner at Misty's, he even went as far as to buy one of her hand-knitted vests, then put it on and wore it the whole evening, and, not to be unkind or anything, but he didn't look seasoned gulf islander; he just looked like an underweight chartered accountant wearing a.Peruvian vest.

Not gonna lie; the dinner was weird. Misty (who is very lovely and wears low cut shirts, which is also very lovely) made this strange vegetarian stew: chickpeas and tofu and vegetables and something else I couldn't quite identify. The thing is, whatever was in there, reminded me of the mason jar in their living room. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Misty's father, Norm, had fourteen gallstones removed in the summer, and that's where he keeps them. In the jar. I think he's quite proud of them.

When he caught me looking at them, he pointed at the jar with his cane and said, Yep, grew 'em myself. I didn't know how to respond. No one has ever shown me a part of their body they'd had removed. No. Wait. That's not true. In grade seven, Evan Dunbar showed me a photo of a cyst his grandma had taken out of her stomach. It had fingernails and hair stuck in it. I had nightmares for a little over two weeks.

Anyway, I was as polite as I could be and said, as one does, Wow, nice gallstones. And then Norm picked up a small baby food jar and put it in my hand. In it was another gallstone—more prominent than the others—the size of a brussels sprout. Norm said, "I call this one Duke because that is a badass kind of name, don't you think?" But I didn't have time to answer because my dad cut in and began telling Misty and Norm about this kid he went to high school who went by the moniker, Duke, who could bench press 350 and once picked up a car by its bumper with one hand. Dad never shuts up about Duke; he acts like they were best friends, but I happen to know Duke thought Dad was a dweeb back in the day—my mom told me this two years ago in confidence. That is, back when Mom was still a part of the family—before she ran off with her Pilates instructor, who, by the way, is a she.

Come to think of it, I'm surprised Dad didn't name me Duke when I was born, but I'm glad he didn't. I could never pull off a name like that. I'm pretty slight in stature, so Myles is a much better fit for me, I think.

Anyway, despite the gallstone stew, Norm and Misty were pretty lovely, and Misty hugged me when we left. She hugged Dad, too, but Norm slapped me on the back and said, Good luck at school on Monday, you little shit! And then he laughed and laughed and laughed like he knew something I didn't. Understandably, I'm a little freaked out.


Go with the Flow

The Garcia Community School is overcrowded, and all the rooms smell like nutritional yeast. Also, (because it used to be a farmhouse), the rooms are small, the heating isn't great, and there are only two bathrooms with ONE toilet in each of them!

All the teachers want us to call them by their first names, and their first names are totally made-up ones. It's so obvious. For example, my English teacher's name is MaKeelah, and my math teacher refers to himself as Raven. I'm not even kidding. He's old, too, like at least 40, so you know he's not in some weird quarter-life crisis phase or anything. Also, I'm pretty sure that's not H20 in his Game of Thrones water bottle.

After today, which happens to be my fourth day at this school, I have concluded that my drawing class is the weirdest class of all. It's taught by a woman named Skyla (no last name), and today she had us making sculptures from found objects. I'm not artistic by nature, so I just brought in a bunch of urinal pucks. I did this because our old neighbour back in the city is a janitor in a medium-security prison, and for some reason, we have several boxes of the things. Go figure. Anyway, I found some copper wire and made this weird tree thing that Skyla thinks is my commentary on the unrelenting tenacity of the human spirit. (Well, if it gets me an A, then who am I to argue?)

On another note, there's a girl in my class—Scarlet something or other—who is making her sculpture from feathers and tampons, which, personally, I think is a bad idea. Our projects are currently being constructed outdoors around the back, and if it rains (which it's supposed to tomorrow), her sculpture is destined to fail because, … well, tampons. When I told her this, she rolled her eyes like I was a few toys short of a happy meal and explained that her piece was meant to evolve "organically." Then she said a true artist shouldn't try to control the process; instead, they should act as a conduit for Divine Inspiration. She finished off by saying I should learn how to "go with the flow."

Given that her sculpture is constructed chiefly from feminine hygiene products, I thought "Go with the Flow" would be an apt title. But when I suggested this to Scarlet, she told me I was mocking her and that I should take my testosterone someplace else.

When I mentioned to Scarlet that I thought she was making a sweeping generalization about my gender, she threw her box of tampons at me and called me a misogynistic bastard. So, I packed up my stuff and decided to work next to Skyla because no one ever bothers the person who hangs out next to a teacher. But Skyla was wholly immersed in a People magazine she'd pulled from the collage cupboard, so she'd missed the entire exchange. I guess reading about celebrities with cellulite is more exciting than a grade nine art class.

Suffice to say; I think my takeaway today is that it's a bad idea to talk to girls who have red names and no sense of humour.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All