Featuring No Place for Kids

I’m deeply honoured that the Adoption Support Centre of Saskatchewan is running a feature/interview on No Place for Kids this week. Many thanks, Kristine Scarrow, for this referral!

ASCS Interviews Local Author Alison Lohans about her book “No Place for Kids”

Alison Lohans is an award-winning Regina-based author of 26 books for young people and teens. She has given more than 1000 author talks about her work, and writing, in schools and libraries. Additionally, she has taught writing and worked as an editor.

This month ASCS has chosen to shine a light on Childhood Trauma and the importance of being Trauma Informed when caring for children who have had adverse early childhood experiences. With this in mind, could you tell us a little about the book you have published titled No Place for Kids? 

No Place for Kids features young Sarah and her older sister Jennifer, whose once-comfortable life is shattered by the death of their mother. Their dad turns to drinking for solace, and things fall apart even more: he first loses his job, then begins pawning off their furniture, and eventually loses their house. When the story opens, this small family has been surviving by travelling around Western Canada, staying first with one of Dad’s “buddies”, then another and another, a few months each time. These are often grungy “party houses” where nobody has any interest in providing responsible care for the two sisters. At this point the girls haven’t been in school for quite a while. Their only other living relative is their Aunt Ellen in Vancouver. In yet another “buddy’s” home in Winnipeg, they encounter Wes, a creepy character who seems to have an “unnatural” interest in the girls. Jen, the older sister, reaches a point at which she’s not willing to take any more – and so, with a small amount of cash saved from doing odd jobs, the two hungry girls take off in the middle of the night, planning to make their way to Aunt Ellen, whom they know will provide a loving home for them. Jen’s meagre savings only cover the cost of bus tickets to Regina, where the two are suddenly truly alone and must depend on their wits for survival – which is a particular challenge for Sarah when the bossy Jen gets sick. Hiding out in garden sheds and a neighbourhood school, it’s a struggle simply to eat, let alone buy more bus tickets – until Sarah defies her older sister and tells a bit of their story to a new schoolyard friend, while Jennifer gets picked up for stealing. Finally, Social Services becomes involved and the girls will be assisted for the remainder of their trip to Aunt Ellen in Vancouver.

What does this book mean to you and why did you feel compelled to write about the main characters; Jennifer and Sarah’s often painful but resilient experience?

No Place for Kids started out as a companion book to another one of my books for younger readers, Mystery of the Lunchbox Criminal (Scholastic Canada, 1990). That chapter book for grades 3-4 involved kids’ lunches going missing at school, with JJ and his friends needing to solve the mystery of the “criminal” who was stealing the lunches. That it turned out to be a pair of sisters, runaways, opened up a huge spectrum of childhood traumas that far overshadow the day-to-day issues faced by most middle class children. So there it was – an enormous well of human challenges: of abandonment on virtually all levels, leaving it up to sisters Jennifer and Sarah to take matters into their own hands, in taking on the risks of striking out for a better life (and survival) when it was clear that the adults around them were totally incompetent in parental roles, in the face of their own personal weaknesses. I wanted to point out that kids are capable of figuring out workable, options, and of summoning up the courage to take action in search of a better life. It also opened up so many layers of challenges faced by the homeless – particularly when no adult is around to take charge.

What do you hope both young adult and adult readers can take away from their experience in reading No Place for Kids?

There are a number of things I hope readers will keep in mind after reading No Place for Kids:

  • It’s important to think issues through from several different perspectives because actions have consequences
  • People in positions of responsibility for others need to consider their needs first, before indulging in their own wishes
  • It’s important to keep in mind that people can and should speak up if something is wrong
  • It’s not wrong to ask for help when help is needed
  • Substance use and over-use is not an appropriate means for dealing with emotional pain. Instead, turning to counselling will help strengthen a person and assist them with positive decision making.
  • Young people shouldn’t be underestimated: they are capable of making plans and carrying them out

The importance of working to sustain one’s needs, rather than leaning upon others

Do you wish to share any personal thoughts about the valuable knowledge that youth and adults can gain when they read stories like No Place for Kids. In terms of gaining empathy, understanding and a different world view?

There are many, many things that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. It’s important to be aware of this, and to recognize that many others are not so privileged. It may be hard to know if – or when –we should step in to help … however, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to such situations. Stories such as No Place for Kids can provide excellent springboards for discussion in classrooms and other areas, opening people’s thinking toward greater consideration for, and empathy toward, others. They may also provide opportunities to become aware of community and provincial departments and resources that have the knowledge and expertise to provide help in challenging situations.

ASCS wishes to express our gratitude to Alison Lohans for providing an inside look at the writing of her published work; No Place for Kids. This book is available through the Carol Bothwell Resource Library at the Adoption Support Centre of Saskatchewan. For more information on No Place for Kids and Alison’s other books, please visit her Facebook Page and Website.

First completed illustration for “The 1-Dogpower Garden Team”!

Work is moving ahead toward the 2021 release of “The 1-Dogpower Garden Team”, to be illustrated by my talented artist cousin Gretchen Ehrsam – with Heather Nickel of Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing at the helm.
Gretchen sent me the first completed illustration about a week ago. Her process is complicated: she does lino-prints, first carving the art into linoleum blocks, and then printing the work.
The scene here takes place about a third of the way through the book.

Anecdotes on being an “old” writer

Facebook has a fun way of reminding us of past events, through the daily “memories” it shows us. The one that came up today is particularly fun:
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From November 30, 2017:
Had another fun aspect of being an “old” author today 🙂 At today’s book table, a couple of 20-something young women stopped by for a look. One saw my books & said to the other, “She came to our school.” “That’s me,” I said…. “OH!!! Did you come to St. Pius School?” Me: “Yes. About 15 years ago?” “Yes! I still have this book, and this one, and this one….” 🙂

And at a dinner night-before-last, the woman beside me and I had introduced ourselves on a first name basis. About 30 minutes later, she happened to say, “Are you Alison Lohans, the author? I know of your books….”

It happened in October, too, at a choir rehearsal….

And another episode last spring when re-validating my library card: the young man at that desk looked at my card & said, “Are you the Alison Lohans who wrote Mystery of the Lunchbox Criminal?” Me: “Yes…” Him: “You came to our school!” …. this for a book published in 1990….

I guess I actually do exist!

The newest review of Timefall

Thanks so much, Loretta Polischuk, for your great review of Timefall!
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Top review from Canada

Loretta Polischuk5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-bending futuristic novel
Reviewed in Canada on November 13, 2020
The earth and humanity are hanging by a thread, both in the present and thousands of years into the future. Thrown into, and between, these two devastating times are Katie, a teenage unwed mother, her small son, Tyler, and a classmate Lorne.

While dealing with their own daily issues of bullying, family disruptions and personal relationships, the three of them timefall into the future life of the young Seer, Iannik. Together, they must all face the challenge of saving the world called Aaurenan and what’s left of the human race.

Written as a YA novel, Timefall also deals with adult issues. Alison Lohans has masterfully woven a fantastical tale; it is both thought-provoking and mind-bending. An intense read!

Timefall e-book is now available on Amazon!

A week has passed since I clicked “Publish” for the new e-edition of Timefall.

My deepest thanks to all who’ve helped me along the way, at the various stages of this book’s varied life. Most recently, huge thanks go to Linda Aksomitis and all the others in our online course on e-publishing – Dianne Young, Sharon Plumb, Judith Silverthorne, and Gillian Richardson.

The amazing cover of this new e-version was created by Regina graphic artist Sandra Norman – so to Sandra as well, my heartfelt thanks!

Why not take a look, and check it out!

Coming soon

One of my ongoing projects these past several months is to get my novel Timefall up and going again (as an ebook, and print-on-demand) after its publisher sadly had to shut down due to pandemic issues. It’s been a complicated learning curve on my part and there are still some things I have to do. But here’s the new cover!! My extreme gratitude to talented graphic artist Sandra Norman for her wonderful work!

The blurb for Timefall:

“Two worlds sit on the brink of collapse. Katie, a teen mom, is trying to hold things together – but suddenly falls into another world. Iannik is last in a long line of Seers – with flawed Sight. Can he summon the infant T’laaure from the distant past, to save Aaurenan? Is Katie’s baby the one who holds all the answers?”

Finalist, 2019 Prix Aurora Award, Young Adult Novel

5-star review on Amazon