Born in Nanaimo, Penny Chamberlain works as a physiotherapist in Victoria. The Olden Days Locket (Sono Nis) is her first novel for juveniles. It concerns a 12-year-old girl's fascination with the former, turn-of-the-century grandeur of Point Ellice House. Visions of a girl named Rose take her into the past, to a terrible disaster involving an overcrowded streetcar on the Point Ellice Bridge. She is also the author of Chasing the Moon (Sono Nis, 2006), a juvenile novel about rum running between Victoria and Seattle during Prohibition. Between 1920 and 1933, the Volstead Act in the United States strictly prohibited the production, sales and consumption of alcholol in the U.S. Chamberlain's story, although fiction, includes the most notorious B.C.-based rumrunner, Roy Olmstead, who reputedly smuggled two hundred cases of liquor into Seattle daily during the early 1920s, until he was caught and convicted. Chamberlain lives in a 90-year-old house on the outskirts of Victoria and she is a member of the Friends of Point Ellice House. She is married to entertainment reporter Adrian Chamberlain, with whom she has a daughter, Katie.

In Chamberlain's third book, Shack Island Summer (Sono Nis $9.95) it's the summer of '69 and Pepper and her misfit brother are spending it with Grandma in a tiny shack on an island just big enough to hold a scattering of cabins. The adopted Pepper knows nothing about her birth family. She's having strange dreams that come unexpectedly and appear to foretell the future. As Penny explores her new found ESP, she also searches for answers to who she is and where she comes from. By summer's end, she finds that those answers may not be the ones she's seeking.

Penny Chamberlain's adult novel, Songs from a Small Town in a Minor Key (Now or Never 2020), takes the form of a series of linked stories loosely based on a true incident of mass hysteria in Le Roy, New York in 2012, reconfigured for a small Canadian town. One by one, the girls develop a mysterious, twitching disease. Their arms shake and jump. They can’t control their movements. People speculate about what is causing the disease, but no one. Each story is told form a different point of view. Dark secrets come to light and hysteria grows.


The Olden Days Locket (Sono Nis) ISBN 1-55039-128-3, $8.95.
Chasing the Moon (Sono Nis, 2006)
Shack Island Summer (Sono Nis 2014) $9.95 978-1-55039-175-6
Songs from a Small Town in a Minor Key (Now or Never 2020)

[BCBW 2020]