BAR HARBOR – Come to the Jesup this Saturday, Sept. 21, to experience banshees and more with Maine author Ellen Booraem as part of a special event for for kids, parents and teachers that begins at 10:30 a.m.
Ms. Booraem’s new novel for readers 8 to 13 years old, “Texting the Underworld,” tells the tale of Conor O’Neill, who has the fright of his life when a banshee named Ashling appears in his bedroom. When a banshee shows up, it means someone is going to die, and Ashling is certain that someone in Conor’s family will soon need her services — but first she insists on going to middle school!
So Conor has to hide her identity from his classmates and teachers. Eventually he realizes there’s no way to avoid paying a visit to the underworld if he wants to keep his family safe.
The author will give a slideshow about banshees, plus read from her book and answer questions from kids and grown-ups alike about writing, banshees, texting and anything else the audience comes up with.
“Texting the Underworld” is her third book for young readers. She has been writing for a living for nearly 40 years. After spending 20 years writing and editing for rural weekly newspapers, she quit a perfectly good job at the age of 52 to write her first middle-grade fantasy, “The Unnameables,” which was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books in 2008.
“I was happily employed in 2003 when, for reasons I still can’t figure out, I took a fiction-writing workshop with author Cynthia Thayer. I found that I was having a good time writing out of my head, which was a big shock,” she said. “I decided to try the novel-writing thing one more time, and I gave notice at my newspaper job,” she says. “I figured that eventually I would see reason, hire someone to kidnap my successor at the newspaper, and ask for my job back. To my surprise, however, I had a great time writing …”
By “great” time, though, she does not mean “fun.”
“Writing is not fun,” she says. “It is, as I feared, hard work. Remember when you had a loose tooth and when you pressed it the pain felt good and you couldn’t stop doing it? That’s what writing is like. It’s easy to dread and even easier to put off, but once you’re sitting down at the keyboard it’s …well, a great time.”
Her second book, “Small Persons With Wings,” came out in 2011 and won raves from critics, librarians and kids alike. “Texting With the Underworld” was published in August. 2013.
Ms. Booraem lives on the Blue Hill Peninsula with her partner, painter Robert Shillady.