Thursday, February 8, 2024

Blast from the Past

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

 I was feeling nostalgic this past week and got to thinking about my first published novel, Unlocking the Doors, which came out in 1988 from Scholastic Canada.

A little backstory. I wrote my first novel at age thirteen. Unlocking the Doors was the fourth one I wrote and I was lucky enough to have it published while I was still in high school. 

Boy, how times have changed. 

I wrote the first draft on a manual typewriter, but switched to computer for later drafts. The top left picture is me at my Tandy 1000 (bought from Radio Shack). 

When I finished the novel I printed it out on a dot matrix printer, stuck it in an envelope and mailed it off to Scholastic Canada. You could do that back then. The publishing houses all had slush piles and staff to read them. You didn't need an agent (though they were definitely a bonus.)

I still remember the day I got THE CALL from Scholastic. It was a cold, dark morning in February. The phone rang as I went out the door, but I thought nothing of it until my mom stepped onto the porch and yelled down the driveway, "Nicole, they're going to publish Unlocking the Doors!" Such a wonderful moment... and then the bus pulled up and I had to get on and go to school without finding anything else out for another hour. 😂

I was paid the grand sum of $1000 (that's the cheque I'm holding in the top right picture.) I got 24 authors copies to hand out to friends and family and we had a party at my house. I remember that one of my cousins brought champagne, which I'd never tasted before.

The book is long since out of print, and I'm a little afraid to reread it, but I'm still proud of what teenage me accomplished.


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