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T A Knox-Collins

I love books, especially Science Fiction. I write for children, am a graduate of Hamline University's MFAC program. I am committed to seeing diversity in kidlit and I can't help myself when it comes to rescuing dogs.

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Juvenile fiction

A Young Artist Tackles Hunger: A Graphic Novel

Working part time at a bookstore, I get to meet a lot of interesting people. Best of all is when kids and teens come in to the store. I love to hear about what they’re reading, what they’re interested in, and discovering their talents.

Jing Jing is 16 years old. She comes into the bookstore quite often. She has a bubbly personality and is a great conversationalist. She’s also an artist. She says she practices her drawings a lot and I can believe that. When she showed me her portfolio, I was envious. Drawing people is definitely not something I can do. I can draw stick figures. What Jing Jing does is a whole different universe.

I told her I’m working on a graphic novel called Hunger. Jing Jing was interested. She asked me what it was about, and really listened as I gave her the long synopsis. Bless that girl!

Hunger is about a Cassia, who lives in the International District in Seattle. Her parents died in an accident when she was a toddler, so she lives with her Aunt Maggie. Maggie runs a Chinese funeral supply store, and has been hoping to make the Hungry Ghost Festival popular in the Pacific Northwest. Business was never great, but her husband’s fortune telling business kept them afloat in the lean times. Now that Harry is gone, Maggie leans on Cassia to keep the store going. Cassia has the ability to see and communicate with the spirits of the departed, particularly during the Hungry Ghost month (7th month of the Lunar Calendar). All Cassia wants is to find her parents’ ghosts, but for some reason, they’ve never visited her. Her ghost friends have been helping her search for them for years, especially Wing – a twenty-something man who died before Cassia was born.

This year, at last, as Cassia gets ready to enter her junior year in high school, news arrives from Wing that her parents have been found. In exchange for his effort, Wing begs Cassia to reach out to his family. He needs them to make him an offering, so he can be freed of his eternal wandering. Cassia may be good with ghosts, but with the living, she’s a complete introvert. To go to Wing’s family and ask them to make an offering to the husband and dad who abandoned them long before he died? That’s a lot to ask. Especially when Cassia finds out that Wing’s son is the most popular boy in her school!

With a whole cast of ghosts and living, Cassia goes on an adventure she’s never dreamed of having. She finds herself making friends with the most unusual people. She discovers how, in being biracial, she’s caught between two cultures whose beliefs about the afterlife could prevent her from ever reuniting with her parents. Most of all, she finds out that family is more than the biological connection between people.

Jing Jing’s reaction? She was excited! Bless her, again. She asked to see some of my script, and then surprised me a few days later, with sketches of some of the characters. I simply have to share them here. Aren’t they great?

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A King County organization called 4Culture very generously gave me a grant to work on HUNGER, to help me hire a graphic novel artist to do the first couple of chapters. With that, I hope to market this graphic novel soon. In return, I’ll be giving free writing workshops to kids who are interested in writing or graphic novels.

Lots of things are happening. But for today, I’m excited to introduce you to this up and coming artist. Great things will come from her someday.

 

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Two kids review “Redworld”

“Redworld” is a middle grade science fiction series that I wrote, published by Capstone. It’s about Belle Song and her adventures on a terraformed Mars, set 250 years in the future. I like to think of it as a Star Wars/Firefly/Star Trek universe type adventure, but where 12-year-old Belle still has to deal with the issues of being the new kid, making friends, finding her place in the world, and getting into all kinds of mischief, as her trusty android, Melody tries to keep up with her.

The first four books were released recently in library binding. All four books will be compiled into a paperback version and released to stores in February 2018.

I sent a book to some of my former students, and I asked them to tell me what they think. I promised to put their reviews on here, without edits. So, here are two of their opinions. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll post more of the kids’ opinions. If you like what they have to say, consider asking your library to stock this series.

Thank you, girls, for your reviews.

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Samantha read book 2, Raiders, Water Thieves of Mars.

“A wild, out of this world adventure, with twists and turns at every corner. Raiders: Water Thieves of Mars is an interesting example of what life is like on planet Mars. The situation on Mars reminded me of severe droughts on Earth today.  The fast, exciting pace is perfect for young readers who prefer action.  It was hard to stop reading it.  I can’t wait to read more of this series.”
-Samantha, 4th grader

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Helena read book 3, Tharsis City, The Wonder of Mars.

“I recommend the book Tharsis City if you like exciting, adventurous stories. One thing I love about the book Tharsis City is it has just enough pictures so I can imagine what Tharsis City is like from the beautiful descriptive writing.  I told lots of people about Tharsis City and they all said it sounds interesting, and someone even started reading it and liked it!  I read it really fast because I liked it so much, mostly because it’s so imaginative.  I loved Belle’s alien friends and wolf dog.  Another thing I liked is that her mom Zara is going to have her first baby on Mars.  I loved this book and I hope you will too!
-Helena, 5th grader

 

 

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