Awake and DreamingAWAKE AND DREAMING:
Theo has a difficult life. She and her young mother, Rae, live in poverty in Vancouver; sometimes they are so broke that they have to beg on the streets. Rae is not a good mother and sometimes she even hits Theo. Theo, however, has two escapes: books and her imagination. She's always reading stories about magic and she pretends that she belongs to a perfect family with four children. When Rae decides to live with her boyfriend, who doesn't want Theo, she takes Theo to Victoria on the ferry to live with Rae's sister. On the way Theo meets a family exactly like the one she has made up. She wishes on the new moon that she could belong to them forever and the next thing she knows, she does! It seems like magic, until the terrible day that the magic starts to fade.

About this novel:
I often get ideas for books when I'm travelling, because I'm so snoopy! I stare at people and imagine what their lives are like and I even listen to their conversations. One day I was on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria when I saw a mother and daughter. They were surrounded by luggage and they were having an argument about how the girl never listened to her mother. Then the girl, who looked about nine, stopped talking and stared sadly out the window. She had such a yearning look on her face, as if she were wishing for something. I decided that she was wishing for a perfect family.

Because this novel has a ghost in it, I'm often asked if I believe in ghosts. All I can say is that I don't not believe in them. Once I was staying in what was supposed to be a haunted hostel in Scotland. My blanket came off during the night and I felt someone pick it up and cover me with it. Maybe it was the resident ghost!

My favourite books when I was young were the "Swallows and Amazons" titles by Arthur Ransome. In those books he made the setting in the English Lake District so vivid that one can find, as I once did, most of the places in real life. I wanted to do the same thing in this novel. It takes place in the Ross Bay Cemetery and other locations in Victoria, and you can find them all if you're diligent. Every year I do an "Awake and Dreaming" tour of the cemetery, where I read from the book and a guide tells the real stories of the gravestones. (See the News page for information.)

Covers around the world:

Ruth Schwartz Award
Governor-General's Award
Red Cedar Award
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award
CBC "Young Canada Reads" winner