A Ladysmith author explored themes of friendship, love and death in her debut novel, Shimmy, which was inspired by true events.
The idea for the story came to Anne Cateaux over a decade ago when her sons witnessed a fawn drowning on a beach after being frightened by the family’s German Sheppard, Rubrum and running into the water.
“Super tragic and as you could imagine my sons were really overcome with grief and shock and what really followed was this question about ‘where do our pets go when they die?’” Cateaux said. “We always had pets and it required more than just an ‘it’s OK’ kind of answer.”
It took her over a year and a half to answer the question through storytelling, writing between her full time job and other responsibilities.
“I have always had an active imagination and from that this whole story just kind of exploded in my mind, which was to answer their question,” she said, adding she would write on weekends and at night after the kids had gone to bed.
She took inspiration from her sons and their friends to create characters — she said they were all very excited to hear the story. They had a four-day sleep over and she read the novel start to finish, getting feedback from the kids.
“What started off as a really small story just blossomed into this pretty huge novel and they loved it and I was on my quest to get it published, but it took a decade and now it’s doing really well,” Cateaux said.
She aimed the story at young adults, but said she has gotten feedback from all ages who loved it. “It just seems to be a story that really appeals to the young in all of our hearts.”
She said she would like to see the word shimmy become common to describe a “transition.”
“My belief system is that we are energy and we take this from while we are alive and well in the 3D existence, but when it is time to transition we just go back to source — we go back to energy, as do all living creatures,” she said. “I guess that’s the big heavy message there.”
This was the foundation of her story where she addressed big concerns her kids were going through at the time — drama and friendship dynamics, bullies and secrets.
“Really at the heart of it, it is about relationships. It’s about love,” she said.
Cateaux said she is working on a sequel to Shimmy and plans to continue writing fiction after.
“I was really blessed to be born into a family where my mom, who is from London England, was a teacher/librarian. There were five kids running around in our house and there was always books,” she said.
“It’s just the importance of writing both for me — it’s a gift for me to get whatever these ideas are and these character out of my head down on paper, but then hopefully for those that are actually indulging and enjoying the stories.”
The book can be purchased locally at 49th Parallel Grocery Stores, Triple Spiral in Victoria, Wishes in Duncan and Aurora Arcana in Nanaimo. It can also be found on Amazon and other major book retailers.