Calgary

Calgary author L.D. Crichton signs Disney deal after overcoming obstacles

Raising three kids while working in the oilpatch may have provided the inspiration behind Calgary author L.D. Chrichton's new novel, All Our Broken Pieces.

Multitasking novelist juggled children, a job and school while writing book

L.D. Crichton's new novel, All Our Broken Pieces, is categorized as young adult fiction but she says older readers will also appreciate it. (Elllis Choe/CBC)

L.D. Crichton is a Calgary writer whose new novel for young audiences, All Our Broken Pieces, was published May 7 by Disney-Hyperion. Crichton spoke to Doug Dirks last week on The Homestretch about how she juggled children, a job and school while writing a novel.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Tell me about your new book.

A. My book came out on May 7th with Hyperion, which is a branch of Disney. It's called All Our Broken Pieces and it's about a girl named Lennon with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a boy named Kyler, who is scarred and a musician.

Lennon has scars on the inside and Kyler has scars on the outside and they meet and love blooms — and they teach each other that normal is boring and it's better to be different.

Q: What inspired this story?

A. I have diagnosed anxiety. So do two of my kids. I wanted to write about that in a way, just explore it.

But I gave her obsessive-compulsive disorder instead because then it's not that personal and it might not destroy me while I write it.

I had to learn about obsessive-compulsive disorder and research a lot. I wanted to explore my own anxieties, but do it in a safe way where it wasn't too traumatic.

Q: What age group is this book for?

A. 14 and up.

Q: Would you consider it a young adult book or just for anyone over the age of 14, including someone who may be a little more mature like myself?

A. I have a lot of mature readers that enjoy it. It is targeted toward teens because what makes young adult fiction "young adult fiction" is the fact that the characters are teenagers — but it's a pretty heavy book at times. There's a lot of intense things in there that I think older readers would also appreciate.

The first place Calgary author L.D. Crichton saw her new novel was on a shelf inside Barnes and Noble in New York City. (Courtesy L. D. Crichton)

Q: How did this contract with Disney come about?

A. I have an agent, which any aspiring writers out there should know that that's the harder part — getting the agent.

It involves hundreds and hundreds of rejections — but eventually I got an agent.

It took me a year to write the book because my father passed away in the middle of it and everything, but eventually I finished it. 

I sent it to my agent. I had originally been sending them 60 pages at a time, so he was reading them while I was writing. Then, I just stopped after like the third round of submitting pages. 

I finished the story, submitted that, and said, "sorry, this isn't what you wanted, but this is what happened — this is what they did."

And he said, "It's perfect."

Three weeks later, it was on submission to various publishers. Three weeks after that, Disney was the first [publisher] we heard back from — the first company with an offer.

Q: What was it like when you got that offer?

A. I was at work and my agent called. I just remember shaking and thought, I may as well just go home — like, there's no point. It was in the morning, too, so why am I even here?

Q: What's it like to see your book on the store shelves now?

A. It's the most surreal, most incredible feeling ever. I  thought I was going to cry on book launch day, because every time I thought about it coming, I got all teary but I didn't. 

I was in New York on launch day and the first time I saw my book was in Times Square, Barnes and Noble. That was amazing.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A. My whole life — but seriously since 2006 probably, when my mom passed away. I started writing because I just thought I always was going to write a book and I had excuses.

Then my mom passed away and I'm like, "life's pretty short! I better write that book."

Q: Were you writing while you were working in the oil and gas industry?

A. Yes. There were times where I was working full-time, raising three kids, going to SAIT, taking classes at night, and writing a book.

So when people tell me they don't have time for things, I kind of laugh — because you make time for what's important.

Q: You were rejected hundreds of times before an agent said yes. Any advice for aspiring writers?

A. Everybody gets rejected. The industry is so specific to that particular agent or that particular editor that what someone hates, someone else is going to love.

Don't write on trend and don't forget why you wrote. I know so many people who start writing thinking, "I'm going to get a book deal. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that."

And then it doesn't work out. And they are just frustrated — and I think that along the way, you're trying so hard to get those things that you forget that you're writing because you love to.


With files from The Homestretch.

About the Author

Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: stephen.hunt@cbc.ca

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