Susan Juby Talks Young Adult Fiction as Fall Colloquium Series Kicks Off

Susan Juby and her dog Rodeo. Photo by Delgado Photography.

September 18, 2015 - 7:15am

The fall Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series at Vancouver Island University (VIU) kicks off Friday, Sept. 25 at 10 am with an illustrated talk by professor and award winning author Susan Juby. An instructor in VIU’s Creative Writing and Journalism program, Juby will give an illustrated talk on her latest book, The Truth Commission, a young adult novel framed as a work of creative nonfiction.

Juby’s talk in VIU’s Malaspina Theatre will examine the genesis and structure of The Truth Commission and look at the novel in the context of contemporary young adult literature, perhaps the most dynamic field in publishing today. It will also examine the thorny issue of truth in stories: who owns them and what is the writer’s responsibility when telling others’ stories. As well, it will examine the myriad complications that follow from any truth telling.

The Truth Commission begins as high school student Normandy Pale aims to emerge from her older sister’s shadow. Pale, as narrator, is the author of her own creative nonfiction, writing the “truth commission” with friends as they aim to uncover the secrets at their school. The novel features footnotes, illustrations, and a combination mystery/love story that a Globe and Mail book reviewer says is Juby’s best work yet: “There is everything you would expect in a Juby novel: the bone-dry humour, the barrage of pop culture references so cool they border on hypothermic and the comfortable straddling of teen and adult fiction.”

As young adult fiction has matured, Juby says, writers have pushed at the boundaries of acceptable topics and narrative forms.

“There’s a balancing act writers need to perform when writing for an audience with diverse and sometimes competing demands,” she says. “Some very passionate young adult advocates, including young readers, adults and specialists in young adult fiction, welcome risk-taking in the category.”

Joining Juby in her talk will be VIU Visual Art graduate Trevor Cooper, who created illustrations for The Truth Commission.

Juby’s novels have been published all over the world and nominated for many awards, including the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Alice MacLeod trilogy, which was adapted into a CTV/Comedy Network television series called Alice, I Think. Alice, I Think was also named one of the essential 40 young adult novels by Rolling Stone Magazine. She has a Master of Publishing degree from Simon Fraser University.

The Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series continues through the fall with two more presentations: “A Journey in Jazz: From Inspiration to Performance,” presented by Gregory Bush, professor in the Music department, on Oct. 16; and “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: The Contrapuntal Rantings of a Half-Breed Girl,” presented by Allyson Anderson, professor in the First Nations Studies department. All presentations run from 10 to 11:30 am, with the public invited to come early at 9:30 am for coffee, juice, cookies and conversation in the theatre foyer.


For more information on VIU’s Arts and Humanities Colloquium series, please see:


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