Monday, October 6, 2008

Introducing the Electrifying Ellen Booraem

This month we're thrilled to have three debut authors. Our first celebration is for Ellen Booraem and her MG fantasy, The Unnameables.

“The Unnameables” is a whimsical fantasy set on an island where everyone is named for what he or she does. The hero is a 13-year-old foundling boy named Medford Runyuin, whose meaningless name underscores his status as an outsider in a rigid, orderly society. Medford has a dangerous secret that just keeps getting worse as he gets older. A smelly, chaotic goatman shows up to expose the secret, kicking off a chain of events that changes Medford’s life—and his island—forever.

Ellen quit a job she loved—arts and special sections editor for the county newspaper—to take her third stab at writing a novel. This time, it worked! Before taking the plunge, she had been writing and editing for rural weeklies for nearly twenty years. Before that, she wrote and edited employee newsletters for corporations and college publications.

Ellen and her partner, artist Rob Shillady, moved to coastal Maine from southern New England in 1984. In the early 90s, they bought land in their tiny town (population: 800) and built a house with their own hands (mostly Rob’s, since one of his day jobs had been carpentry). They live there now with a dog named Calamity Jane and a cat named McGonagall, after the Harry Potter professor who can turn herself into a cat.

Ellen is a founding director of the Brooklin Youth Corps, a summertime work and self-esteem program for teens. She is a mentor and writing coach at the local school, and freelances for the newspaper where she used to work.

Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say about The Unnameables:

(Starred Review) On Island, “thou art thy name.” At age 14, residents receive their names and their vocations from the Council. A cook becomes Cook, a tanner becomes Tanner and everyone follows the rules set forth in Capability C. Craft’s Frugall Compendium of Home Arts and Farme Chores (1680). Thirteen-year-old foundling Medford Runyuin hopes to be designated Carver, like his foster father. He also hopes no one will discover the Unnameable objects he’s created and hidden under his bed: They could cause his exile to Mainland forever. The Council puts off naming him, however, and he must continue to work hard for acceptance. When someone nameless and possibly Unnameable enters his life, all his plans—and the islanders’ way of life—could be in for drastic changes…but after 300 years, is that necessarily a bad thing? Booraem’s debut is an ever-surprising, genre-defying page-turner. Realistic characters deal with philosophical problems in vivid, flowing prose that is evocative and often funny. A sort of combination of witch-trial-era Salem and The Giver, this book offers a treat with nearly every page turn.


Anonymous said...

Now, what would YOUR name be if you were IN your novel?
-Nancy Viau

Ellen Booraem said...

Ellen Worrywart.

Hey, it's a living.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Congrats Ellen! I can't wait to read your book! Enjoy your launch week!!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Ellen! I can't wait to read your work. :)

Barrie said...

I have just the child for your book!