Born in Ponoka, Alberta in 1969, Susan Juby moved at age six with her parents to Smithers, where she was mainly raised, along with a brief stint in Salmon Arm. Inspired by her high school experiences in Smithers, Juby's trilogy about formerly home-schooled, 15-year-old Alice MacLeod of Smithers vaulted her into the literary and television limelight.

Raised by hippie parents, Alice is mostly anxious about learning how to conform. Other characters include her overly smart younger brother, her father's bandmates--including the local taxi driver and her father's gay best friend who runs the sporting goods store--and Linda, the 16-year-old town psychopath who has made Alice's life a living hell since first grade.

The debut volume called Alice I Think (Thistledown, 2002) won the Books In Canada First Novel Award. It was followed by Miss Smithers (Harpercollins, 2004) in which the would-be fashion designer competes in a local beauty pageant--as did Juby herself. This second installment received the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize in 2005. "This kind of makes up for the fact that I failed miserably in the Miss Smithers beauty contest," Juby said.

Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last (Harpercollins, 2005) occurs during Alice's summer preceding Grade 12 during which she writes a humourous screenplay entitled 'Of Moose and Men' and contemplates losing her virginity. Her mother has been sent to jail for overly zealous environmental activism and her boyfriend has moved to Scotland.

"Alice is who I might have been if I hadn't been so intent on fitting in at all costs," Juby has said.

Television rights for the Alice books were sold in 2005, whereupon CTV produced a 13-part half-hour television series starring Vancouver actor Carly McKillip in the title role. Filmed in Vancouver and Langley, B.C., this series was produced by Slanted Wheel Entertainment and Omni Film Productions in association with CTV and The Comedy Network.

Initially Susan Juby was unaware that she was writing young adult fiction until, after many rejections, someone identified the genre for which her work is best suited. In 2007, she spread her wings to write a love triangle about a girl, a boy and a horse, Another Kind of Cowboy (HarperCollins $17.89). It's the story of two dressage riders, Alex and Clio. She's hot to trot for romance, but beyond his macho façade Alex is another kind of cowboy.

For Nice Recovery (Viking 2010), she veered into adult realism, outlining her teenage problems with alcohol. "My family seems to specialize in people who enjoy drinking," she wrote. "And taking drugs. In such families, there is usually one person who stands out as particularly gifted in the field. When I was a teenager, that person was me. I was the star, the Alec Baldwin, if you will. I started drinking seriously when I was thirteen, smoking pot with a vengeance at fourteen and getting into cocaine at sixteen. By the time I was twenty I was done. Nice Recovery is the story of how I slipped so far off course, how I got back on track and, most importantly, what it's like to come of age as a sober young person."

Susan Juby's first comic adult novel is The Woefield Poultry Collective in which a nice girl from Brooklyn, Prudence Burns, inherits an untended plot of land named Woefield Farm. Her farm hands are Earl, an elderly, reclusive bluegrass legend; Seth, an agoraphobic heavy-metal blogger in early recovery from alcoholism; and Sara, an 11-year-old girl with a flock of elite show poultry.

Susan Juby won $15,000 and the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for the best book in Canadian literary humour for her follow-up novel, Republic of Dirt: Return to Woefield (HarperCollins), about the troubles that befall Prudence Burns as she struggles to maintain her farm as she also battles a mysterious illness. Less than two months earlier, Juby also won her second Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize for The Truth Commission (Razerbill).

Bright's Light is her dystopian YA novel in the sci-fi realm in which body image for young still remains a fixation.

Her sixth novel for teenagers, The Truth Commission (2014), is a humourous story about Normandy Pale and her friends, Dusk and Neil, who are self-appointed members of an informal truth commission at the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. Normandy's burden is having a precocious older sister, Keira, who has gone off to attend North America's most prestigious art and animation school, CAID, the California Institute of Art and Design.

Susan Juby reported she teared-up when she read the penultimate paragraph in a Kirkus review by Leila Roy: "For me, my love for this book goes beyond the fun and the funny and the adorable and the sad; beyond the excellence of the family story and the friendship story and the sweetness of the romance and the quiet strength of Norm's relationship with Ms. Fowler. It goes beyond the myriad of ways in which Norm and her friends change the lives of those they touch; beyond the huge cast of entirely three-dimensional characters; beyond the ruminations about the nature of truth and about gossip, about our feelings of entitlement toward other peoples' private truths, about how asking a question can be a kindness, but sometimes, so can keeping your mouth shut. For me, at its core, the Big Truth of The Truth Commission is this: you get a whole lot more out of life when you set the ironic detachment aside, and start treating other people-and the world in general-with honesty, empathy, sensitivity, and love."; The book won the 2016 Sheila A. Egoff children's literature prize.

Before her first novel was published, Susan Juby dropped out of fashion school, received a B.A. from UBC and worked for seven years at Hartley & Marks publishing house in Vancouver. Following publication of Alice, I Think, she left Hartley & Marks to complete a master of publishing degree at Simon Fraser University.

Susan Juby now lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, near Nanaimo, where she owns a horse, manages her own blog on the internet and teaches Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University.

BOOKS:

Alice, I Think (Thistledown, 2002)
Miss Smithers (HarperCollins, 2004)
Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last (HarperCollins, 2005)
Another Kind of Cowboy (HarperCollins 2007). 9780060765187
Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance and Cookery (2008)
Nice Recovery (Viking 2010) 978-0-670-06917-0
The Woefield Poultry Collective (HarperCollins) 978-1554687442
Bright's Light
The Truth Commission (RazorBill/Penguin Canada 2015) 978-0-670-06759-6
Republic of Dirt: Return to Woefield (HarperCollins 2015)
The Fashion Committee (Penguin Teen 2017) $21.99 978-0-6700-6760-2

[BCBW 2017] "Fiction" "Health"