A single idea blossomed into an entire novel, and has vaulted Langley's Patricia Morrison into the ranks of published authors.
In 2008, Morrison was still dealing with the grief over losing her grown son, Adam Katagiri, four years previously. The young pilot had died in a plane crash overseas in 2004.
"When you lose a child, it changes your life forever," said Morrison.
Her son was 27 when he crashed in Jordan.
Morrison had edited a number of children's stories Adam had written before his death, and she then wrote a poem about the Christmases her son had shared with his family.
After writing the poem, the idea lodged in her mind: what about the children who don't get at Christmas at all?
The idea was more than abstract for Morrison, who had worked for 14 years for the Ministry of Children and Families as an administrator.
"I've read countless case histories," she said. Children who have been removed from their families come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and each family has its own problems, she said.
first draft of Shadow Girl. "It came out. I just couldn't stop writing it," she said.
Shadow Girl is the story of 11year-old Jules, a girl with an alcoholic, resentful, and neglectful father.
Jules world, already chaotic, is turned upside down when her father vanishes just before Christmas.
After she wrote the first draft, Morrison felt like her first novel was good enough that it could stand up to the scrutiny of editors.
"Right away, I knew I wanted to get it published," she said.
She showed it to friends and family and started editing her manuscript.
In 2009 she started sending it to publishing houses, and the same year she heard back from Tundra Books, a Canadian publisher of children's and young adult literature.
By 2011 Morrison was working with an editor and getting the book ready for publication.
It will hit bookstore shelves on Feb. 14, and Morrison is considering a local launch party.
Shadow Girl is aimed at children about the age of its protagonist, and Morrison knows that a tale as dark as her's may not be what one first thinks of when it comes to children's literature.
"It's a really hard subject," Morrison said.
However, she feels it's something that children Jules' age may identify with, whether they come from a loving home, or a dysfunctional one.
At 11, children are making the first steps in the transition from child to adult, said Morrison.
"It's a moment in time where you're beginning to confront the world, and all its problems," Morrison said.
She hopes that what people see in Jules is strength and resilience, something any young adult can aspire to.
"That's what I want a young person to get out of it," Morrison said.
OW TO WIN
A signed copy of Shadow Girl:
One lucky reader will win a copy of Patricia Morrison's new book.
How do you win?
. Visit the Langley Advance website at: www.langleyadvance.com, find "More Ways to Connect," and click on "send us your letters, photos, video."
. Fill in your name, email, and number.
. Then write a short note explaining why you want to read this book. Please note your community, and include the keyword "Shadow" at the top of the note.
Preference is given to Langley residents.
Entries must be received prior to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and winners will be notified by email and/or telephone. Note: submitted comments could be used in future editions of the newspaper. No staff or family of the Langley Advance or Glacier Media are eligible. This contest is restricted to online participants.