Tag Archives: Abigail de Niverville

The Places Behind We Go Together: a Guest Post by Author Abigail de Niverville

I’m excited to welcome Abigail de Niverville to the site today to celebrate the release of her new book, We Go Together! This contemporary m/f YA Romance stars a cis bi girl and trans boy coming back together over a summer, and the author is here to talk about the settings of the book and why they mean so much to her. But first, a little more on the book, out today from NineStar Press!

WeGoTogether-fThe beaches of Grand-Barachois had been Kat’s summer home for years. There, she created her own world with her “summer friends,” full of possibilities and free from expectation. But one summer, everything changed, and she ran from the life she’d created.

Now seventeen and on the brink of attending college, Kat is full of regret. She’s broken a friendship beyond repair, and she’s dated possibly the worst person in the world. Six months after their break-up, he still haunts her nightmares. Confused and scared, she returns to Grand-Barachois to sort out her feelings.

When she arrives, everything is different yet familiar. Some of her friends are right where she left them, while some are nowhere to be found. There are so many things they never got to do, so many words left unsaid.

And then there’s Tristan.

He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was just a guy from Kat’s youth orchestra days. When the two meet again, they become fast friends. Tristan has a few ideas to make this summer the best one yet. Together, they build a master list of all the things Kat and her friends wanted to do but never could. It’s finally time to live their wildest childhood dreams.

But the past won’t let Kat go. And while this may be a summer to remember, there’s so much she wants to forget.

Buy it: NineStar Press

And here’s the post!

When I was little, until I was about ten years old, my family piled into the car, with stuffed animals and bedsheets jammed into every corner, and drove to the family cottage in Shediac, New Brunswick. My grandmother and great-aunt would stay there pretty much the entire season, with a revolving door of family popping in for dinner visits and overnight stays. The cottage was old, with mismatched plates, and furniture that vaguely smelt of must. But even with all its imperfections, it was perfect. Going to the cottage was a magical time every year when real life felt eons away, and time almost stopped and sped at the same time.

When I was twenty-one, my friends and I drove out to a friend’s cottage in Cap-Pelé, in a community a little further than Shediac on the Acadian coast in New Brunswick. We went down a long, dirt road, with various houses and cottages peeking through the trees. It was more rural than Shediac, but just as magical. We sat on the deck and looked down at the beach, so close to us and so far from the world and our responsibilities. My friend mentioned how some people lived here all year, not just in the summer. I thought to myself that would be ideal, to live on this small corner of the coast and forget about life.

A few years later, my mom’s cousin moved to Grand-Barachois, another area along the Acadian coast. She had a beautiful house, fully winterized and a minute’s walk away from the beach. Her street was so quiet, with only a hint of the world beyond coming from the cars moving on the old highway. The sky was vast and blue, and stretched on forever. I thought to myself that it would also be a wonderful place to write a story.

While all three of these places were different, the experience was always the same. I loved coming to that corner of the province. I loved feeling the sand in my toes and smelling the sea air. I loved how these places made time stand still. I loved how cozy they felt, preserved with artefacts from the past—like old TVs and jigsaw puzzled with pieces missing. I knew, one of these days, I wanted to write a book with this setting, and somehow recreate the feeling these places gave me.

When I first began We Go Together, I started with a simple concept: to write a summer novel that took place somewhere along the Acadian coast. I had a character in mind who was in a transitional period of her life, who would be looking both forward and backward in order to piece herself together. The more I wrote, the more it became clear this character had survived a traumatic relationship, and needed to parse what had taken place in a setting that would allow her space to breathe. The beaches in Grand-Barachois felt like the perfect setting. They were peaceful, remote, timeless—but never lonely. A gentle removal from daily life, to ease into acknowledging the darker parts of the past.

In creating a fictionalized version of this setting, I wanted to reflect a world that felt both current and timeless, with mixes of modern and old technology, and modern and old references, too. A place that was both grounded in reality, but also otherworldly. A place where beauty abounded, even when confronted with desolation. A place full of contradictions, much like the main character Kat’s journey towards understanding her past.

There are many aspects of life in New Brunswick that are not ideal. There are reasons I moved away. But there’s so much beauty in that province that I feel compelled to acknowledge in my writing. There are so many little nooks and crannies characters can explore, and so many memories just waiting to be made. This novel covers some of those beautiful places, but there’s always more to discover.

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Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Canada. Born on the East Coast of the country, Abigail draws inspiration from her experiences growing up there. She’s especially fond of writing contemporary young adult novels and poetry. Abigail holds and M.Mus from the University of Toronto and writes music in many genres, including classical, pop, and film. She is constantly working on new music projects and drafting story ideas.

How My Hometown Became My Novel’s Setting: a Guest Post by I Knew Him Author Abigail de Niverville

In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

Buy it: Books2Read | Amazon | B&N

I didn’t start writing my debut novel I Knew Him with the intention of setting it in a somewhat fictionalized version of my hometown. Riverview, New Brunswick wasn’t a particularly special or memorable place, and growing up I often dreamed of leaving. But as the story developed, I realized how badly I needed to root it there.

I penned the first draft when I was fifteen years old, in 2009. Back then, Canadian content was different than it was now, and the feelings Canadians had about CanCon were different too. I remember being assigned to read a Canadian novel or read a classic novel as part of an English assignment. A lot of people in my class picked to read a classic because, “Canadian books suck.”

In general, that sentiment was prevalent across all Canadian content, from music to TV to books. Canadian content was bad, and we shouldn’t engage in it. But I never really shared that sentiment. There were a lot of Canadian things I enjoyed, and in my teen years, I sought them out. I was trying so hard to understand myself, to find places I was represented. And while there was a lot I didn’t understand, one thing I was certain of was being Canadian. I searched high and low for content that spoke to me, with varying degrees of success.

A lot of the Canadian YA novels I read in high school were barely identifiable as Canadian. Most of the time, the only way I knew something was Canadian was the little maple leaf sticker my local library stuck to book spines. Some of these novels even took place in the states. It was so disheartening to open a book with that little maple leaf sticker only to find it was set somewhere like New England.

When I began to rework the draft for I Knew Him, I realized my setting needed more details. Deciding to follow the age-old advice to “write what you know,” I started adding things I was familiar with, like the pool in the high school, and the river facing town. Soon, the existence of French and English schools found its way in there, and even the beat-up cars people would sell on front lawns made an appearance. I slowly realized that the non-specific setting I was writing about was actually Riverview, so what was stopping me from setting the story there?

Grounding all those little details into a real place felt good, and I hoped that maybe a reader in Eastern Canada would pick up this story, discover its setting, and feel seen. While I don’t live in Riverview anymore, I wanted to write about the place I knew. I wanted to write the story I never got to read in high school, and I wanted it to happen in the place I’d needed it. Even though Riverview could be anywhere, for much of my life it was my whole world. And maybe I needed to acknowledge that.

Now more than ever, I notice Canadians taking more pride in the media produced by Canadians. I read book reviews where someone says “wow! It’s set in Canada! I love that!” I see tweets gushing about the latest episode of Schitt’s Creek or Anne with an E. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but I’m glad for it. I want to see more Canadian stories, I want to see places I know in the media I consume. I want to be part of it. We are such a large country with so much richness, so many settings, and so many stories waiting to be told.

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Photo by: Barbara Safran de Niverville

Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Ontario. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, she’s often inspired by the places she frequented there and the experiences she lived. She holds an M.Mus from the University of Toronto and is currently working on new music, as well as new works of fiction.