Parksville author Jocelyn Shipley shows her latest book, Impossible, written for teens and adults who don’t yet enjoy reading. — Adam Kveton Photo

Parksville author reeling in reluctant readers

Jocelyn Shipley’s latest book meant to engage teens who don’t yet love to read

Those who don’t like reading may simply have not met the right book yet.

That’s the contention of part-time Parksville resident and author Jocelyn Shipley and Victoria’s Orca Publishing.

Shipley’s latest book, titled Impossible, is part of Orca’s Soundings series, meant for “undiscovered or reluctant readers.”

Written in straightforward language and with a compelling main character and linear storyline, the book is meant to be an easier read, but no less fun to read, for teens or adults, said Shipley.

And she’d know. While researching the Soundings series before writing a book for them, Shipley came to enjoy the books as well.

“They are quite different from other books,” she said. “(They have a) linear plot and no sub-plots, no back story, not a lot of description. You take out all the parts that someone is going to skip reading anyway, that kids skip, all the boring things, and I found I really like that writing. It’s almost more like a script that you’re writing.”

Shipley has written 10 books now, including some for adults, though most of her books are for teens.

Though writing for reluctant readers is still a fairly new focus, Shipley said, these stories can really change a teen’s feelings about reading.

“I think so many kids are made to feel that they’re not smart or that they can’t read or they don’t like books because they’ve been given material that isn’t relevant to them,” she said.

While some people delight in Shakespeare and Lord of the Rings, their complicated use of language and non-contemporary worlds can turn some readers off.

When you’re also competing for a young person’s time with social media, Netflix, sports and school, that’s just not good enough.

“These books for reluctant readers are short, they are fast-paced, they are high-interest. This particular series is contemporary, and I like to think they engage on the first page,” said Shipley.

The idea for Impossible came to Shipley while going on walks in downtown Toronto, where she lives part of the year.

“There are sometimes shootings down in our area… and I’ve often wondered, I walk a lot, what if I was walking along and witnessed a shooting or something like that, what would I do?”

In Impossible, a 17-year-old single mom witnesses a drive-by shooting. But the only reason she saw it was because she’d left her baby alone in her apartment to buy diapers. The problem she’s faced with is to report the shooting and risk losing custody of her child, or let a killer go free.

Shipley drew on her own experience raising kids, as well as the lives of the teenagers in her life to accurately portray a contemporary 17-year-old mom. Getting the voice correct is, of course, very important for readers, and something she is careful to get right, she said.

Shipley said she’s “very happy” with her latest book, noting that she feels it’s best for ages 14 and up.

It’s available for teachers to order, and can be purchased online, at the Chapters in Nanaimo or borrowed from the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

For more info on Shipley and her books, visit online at www.jocelynshipley.com.

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