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Shana Abé

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Sweetest Dark, The
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Susan Juby
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I was raised in Smithers, BC, Canada and lived there until I moved to Toronto at age 20. I had a brief and unsuccessful career as a fashion design student and, after a series of low paying jobs, such as server, record store employee, etc., I began a degree in English Literature at University of Toronto, which I finished at the University of British Columbia. After graduating I became an editor at a self-help/how-to book publishing company based in Vancouver.

When I was a kid I wrote fiction but gave it up for a life of crime (no, not really) until I was about 26, when I started writing in the morning before work, first on the bus, then in a coffee shop. This writing became Alice, I Think, which was first published by a small Canadian press in 2000.

I set out to write a comedy that would make my 30-year-old best friend and my 50-year-old godfather laugh. It was only when it came time to get published that I was told that I'd written a teen novel. I am inspired by writers like Sue Townsend and J.D. Salinger as well as Gerald Durrell, Stella Gibbons, John Kennedy Toole and David Sedaris.

My intention was to write a book about a teenager who doesn't fit in, but doesn't allow that fact to crush her. Alice is my homage to oddballs. I wanted her to have the courage and integrity to find her own way and define herself independently of other people. I've always admired people who can do that.

I always tell people that if one person who's feeling isolated or left out reads my book and laughs and thinks "I'm not alone" or "at least I'm not that bad", then I've achieved my goal. And if one adult reads it and laughs and thinks, "thank god those days are over" it's been a success. The books are intended as much for adults as they are for teenagers.

I'm married and my husband James and I live on Vancouver Island with our dog.

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