By Julie Kish
Linda Deenen positively beams when discussing her debut novel A Keen Betrayal, a young adult science fiction story that was published in March. She relaxes in her Centennial area home while discussing her arduous writing journey.
It started five years ago when a story idea popped into her head after watching a show on the ethics of human gene editing. The story haunted her and she was compelled to put it in writing.
When she showed some of the early pages to friends and family, they encouraged her to keep writing. She says the story “poured out of her.” She had developed a fascinating futuristic world and crafted endearing humanoid characters.
Linda says she has always been an avid writer. She filled numerous steno pads with her thoughts and feelings when she was in school, and turned her teenage angst into some “questionable teen poetry.” Since she always found it easier to express herself in writing, Linda thought about a career as a writer or a journalist, but ultimately had a career in accounting. She has previously written short stories and travel blogs, but A Keen Betrayal is her first novel.
Linda loves living in the area, which she refers to as a special Scarborough “alcove.” Her husband, Harold, was raised in the Centennial area, and the family landscaping business is located close by. Although they raised their children primarily in Newmarket, they moved back to the Centennial area to help Harold’s aging parents.
Linda doesn’t use an outline when she writes and refers to her story as “unchoreographed.” She lets the characters propel the story and never knows what is coming next. As a first-time novelist, she was full of self-doubt and sought input from authors and editors. The contradictory advice was confusing and led to her rewrite the manuscript at least four times. Eventually, she found an editor who gave her sound guidance, and the novel was ready for publication after one last rewrite.
Although the story was written for the young adult market (12 to 18 years), Linda says that novels in this genre are also popular with older adults. According to publishing industry statistics, approximately 55 percent of YA readers are over the age of 18. Adults have begun to appreciate that young adult novels are well-written and provide an escape.
Linda envisions A Keen Betrayal as the first book in a trilogy, and she is already hard at work on the second one.
Book: A Keen Betrayal
Author: Linda Deenan
Published by: BookBaby, March 2022
A Keen Betrayal by Linda Deenen is a young adult science fiction novel set in a world destroyed by the weapons of war. The scorched earth has a “caustic odor” and a “permeating dryness” that makes it unfit for habitation.
The remaining population lives in relative comfort as part of the Monroe Collective, a small enclosed city designed and controlled by Glendon Monroe, a man so old he remembers what the world was like before the wars. He seems to have acquired an elixir that cures disease and extends his life indefinitely but will not readily share it with others.
The poisoned environment has left the population sterile, so children are created in pods and are genetically modified to optimize the survival of the entire collective.
The protagonist, 15-year-old Meandre, is a charming, genetically altered child born and bred to search for threats outside the City. She is one of the “Keeners,” a group that can cover vast distances each day because their leathery palms and extra leg joint allow them to sprint on all fours. The Keeners are trained to protect the City from the Shadowbeasts, monsters created by the toxic environment.
Meandre and her love interest, Dustin, are part of a lower level of social class known as Helpers. The two stumble on information that casts doubt on the origin of the Shadowbeasts and the true intentions of their leader, Glendon Monroe. They embark on a dangerous quest to discover who the real monsters are.
This story hooked me from the beginning. Thanks to the author’s vivid descriptions and the unique characters, it played like a movie in my head. The protagonist, Meandre, is a delightful, inquisitive and brave teenager who easily won me over.
In addition to being exceptionally well-written, the novel has thought-provoking ethical and social messages that stayed with me after finishing it.