Guest Post: Vikki VanSickle’s Winspiration

I’m so pleased to welcome Vikki VanSickle to the blog today to discuss some of the inspirations behind her new book, The Winnowing – or as she calls them, her Winspirations. I’ve had the pleasure of reading this book ahead of publication, and can tell you that it’s likely going to keep you up reading until the wee small hours. It hits all the right sweet spots for me – action, suspense, telepathy, mysterious centre holding kids under mysterious circumstances … the list goes on!

Vikki is the well-known author of the Words that Start With B trilogy, as well as Summer Days, Starry Nights and the picture book If I Had a Gryphon. Welcome, Vikki!

I get it. The Winnowing seems like a hard left turn for me. My previous novels are coming-of-age stories about ordinary kids dealing with family and relationship-based drama. What is this slightly dystopian, conspiracy-driven thriller?! Where did it come from? In a series of Winspiration guest posts I will attempt to answer this question.

Winspiration: INTO THE DREAM

For a long time I had a foggy recollection of this amazing book I had read as a kid. I was desperate to find it, only I had forgotten the title. I would describe it to friends, colleagues, librarians, anyone who would listen to me about the book about two kids who are having the same dream and it has something to do with a baby, a hotel, a Ferris wheel and oh, there was a dog, too! Eventually, with the help of my good friend google, I stumbled upon a (bad) review of a book called Into the Dream and realized I had found my long-lost grail.

I soon discovered that the book was out of print and ordered a used copy online. Despite the bad online review, I found I still enjoyed Into the Dream. It held up as an eerie, uncanny read. Also, the novel is an impressively compact 127 pages.

I trace my long-time interest in dream interpretation and telepathy to this book. As a kid I read up on lucid dreaming, convinced that if I could control my dreams then surely telepathy, telekinesis, or a similar supernatural ability was next. I still keep a dream diary and a dream dictionary on-hand today, though I have mostly given up on the possibility of developing any psychic abilities.

There are a couple of subtle references in Into The Dream in The Winnowing, but the most obvious one is the name of the roadside diner—The Starlight Diner—which is a nod to The Stardust Motel in Into the Dream. In this way I feel I am acknowledging the work of William Sleator as an inspiration in my book and also thanking him for the joy and wonder his book (and his impressive canon)  brought me and many other readers.

The Winnowing is available from Scholastic Canada, and may be purchased from your local independent, chain or online book retailer. ISBN: 9781443148863, 280 pages. 

UPDATE: Thanks to the fine folk at Scholastic Canada, I’m delighted to offer a SIGNED copy of The Winnowing to one lucky reader! To enter, simply comment on this post OR send me a tweet telling me why you want to win this book. Winner will be randomly chosen by end of day Friday, September 22.

Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that’s fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence.

But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she’s known and loved. A gripping exploration of growing up, love and loss, The Winnowing is a page-turning adventure that will have readers rooting for their new hero, Marivic Stone, as they unravel the horror and intrigue of a world at once familiar but with a chilling strangeness lurking beneath the everyday.