25th Trillium Award

At the Desk: Liane Shaw

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The Anne Room

For each book we readers eagerly open, there's a writer who's spent countless hours researching, organizing, writing and rewriting. The place where all this happens is unique to every writer, and we love nothing more than to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the site where it all happens! In Open Book?s At The Desk series, writers tell us about their creative processes and the workspaces that inspire them.

Liane Shaw is the author of three novels for young adults. Currently residing on a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Ontario, Liane tells us about how, upon buying a 200-acre farm, she quickly went about creating a writing space in the 154-year-old "barn masquerading as a house" — a writing room promptly christened ?The Anne Room? and inspired by her love of Anne of Green Gables. With a couch, model ship and some artwork added, the room is where Liane came to write Fostergirls and The Color of Silence (Second Story Press). The Color of Silence was just released this spring.


When I took early retirement from my position as a Special Education Consultant, I was living in a small house in a small town and dreaming big dreams of my new life as an author. My first novel was close to becoming a reality and I was still pinching myself daily just to make sure I was awake. About three seconds after thinandbeautiful.com hit the shelves, my husband and I made the rather radical decision to buy a 200-acre farm?way out in the countryside far away from anything I had ever imagined my life could be.

Confronted with a five-bedroom, 154-year-old drafty barn masquerading as a house, I realized that I would quickly have to develop home improvement skills. Watching home decorating shows didn't really help. Overwhelmed, and under-skilled, I knew I had to prioritize. I decided that the place to start was to create a writing room that would reflect all of the things that inspire my words. After all, who needs a kitchen or a living room?

I had to start with my L. M. Montgomery collection. Back in Grade 7, our teacher made us read Anne of Green Gables and I was instantly hooked for life. I've read the book so many times that I've lost count. Every time life gets in my way, I retreat into Anne's world for a while. Within about an hour of starting work, my new room was christened "The Anne Room.?

Next step was to find some logs from our forests to make the shelves and trim. I covered the top shelf with pictures of my children, whose lives are a constant source of inspiration. I found a mural that reminds me of my new life in the country and managed to get it to stick to the ancient, cracked wall.

I dug out all of my fairy lore, relics of my teaching days when I used to explore magical possibilities with my students. The kids always found it enchanting but I do remember a few parents stomping into my classroom, demanding to know why I had lied to their children by telling them that fairies and unicorns are real. In my own defense, I never really said that. I just asked my students if they could prove that fairies and unicorns aren't real. A whole different thing!

Add a touch of music, some special artwork, a few old movie posters and a model ship made by my dad and then fill the shelves with books collected over many years at many bookstores, garage sales and auctions. Plop in a couch instead of a desk because I write on a laptop?and I was ready to roll.

And so I sat back and wrote my second book?which suitably enough was Fostergirls?a book about an "orphan" written in a room dedicated to one!

And now The Anne Room has played host to novel number three, The Color of Silence, which arrives this spring. I don't have to pinch myself anymore?I'm awake and it's all real! As Anne would say ?It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?? (L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables)

Liane Shaw worked in the field of education for 25 years, with much of that time spent as a teacher of students who faced academic, behavioral, physical or emotional challenges. Now retired, she lives on a 200-acre wildlife sanctuary in eastern Ontario, where she spends her time writing, editing and looking after animals. She is the author of Fostergirls, thinandbeautiful.com and The Color of Silence. For more information about Liane Shaw, please visit her website.

For more information about The Color of Silence please visit the Second Story Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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