My first novel, Stolen, was published in 2006.

It won Saskatchewan Book Awards for First Novel and Novel from Saskatoon, and resulted in my being named the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer of 2007. Stolen was nominated for the Giller Prize and the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was a “best of the year” choice in the Globe & Mail.

It starts like this:

1. root system

Everything is music.

Rowan is the last throwback on earth who likes tapes. He buys CDs sometimes, because they’re easier to find, but he doesn’t listen to them much. Once or twice through is enough to identify the songs he likes; then they go onto a tape.

Mix tapes are his peculiar art form. The trucks of Saskatchewan aren’t equipped to play discs, as a rule, but most of them have tape decks. Radio’s reach is limited. Once you’re an hour out of Saskatoon, the only stations you can pick up are one AM country station and the CBC. Neither is really good enough for all-day travel. Commercial radio’s a mixed bag: it rattles off ads for car dealerships like they’re in-depth interviews, and the daytime music reflects a kind of middle-aged hick taste that he hasn’t yet reached. The CBC is—he doesn’t know. Something else. Not intended for his tribe, maybe, whatever his tribe is.

So he makes the tapes. People steal them and give them back years later and he’s surprised at how good they are. Long arms of music stretch out, jointed by mood or beat or something subdural that he doesn’t have a name for. They’re all carefully timed so the tape doesn’t end in mid-song or run a long, empty gap before turning over.

The internet made a huge difference. All the radio that ever failed him doesn’t have a tenth of the power of a good file-sharing program. Random searches turn up songs by artists he’s never heard of. Sometimes, if he likes enough of the tracks, he’ll go buy the CD. The rest of the time, he burns a mix onto disc and then tapes it. As processes go, it’s arcane, but it works.

His taste is more eclectic than he would have expected it to be, if he’d been asked ten years ago. He’s twenty-six years old, not quite cowboy and never marked with the urban something that most people seem content to imitate even in this too-empty corner of the universe. Rowan suspects that once you start free-ranging through digital music, you lose track of your original taste fairly quickly. His eighteen-year-old self wouldn’t have known what to make of the beautiful little cassette thrust into his dashboard.

. . .

Makes you want a copy, now, doesn’t it?

Buy it on paper or for Kindle from!

Buy it on paper or for Kindle from!

Buy it as an e-book from Kobo!

Buy it in French!  Michel Vezina did a beautiful job of the translation, and the cover is so, so beautiful!

3 thoughts on “Stolen

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