Sylvan resident releases youth novel

A Central Alberta author has seen a long-held dream come true with the publication of her first book.

Sylvan Lake resident Shawna Moore is thrilled to see The House of Dreams become a finished project — one that was originally conceived about 10 years ago.

“It was a pretty phenomenal feeling,” she recalls of seeing actual copies of the brand new book. “Because for so many years I kept say I will do this, but it wasn’t really tangible.

“But I think the most exciting part was when I sent the final version away. They then sent me a note that it was off to the publishers, and I think that was the most exciting part — knowing it was actually going to be published.”

Moore says she always had an interest in writing, although it didn’t transfer into her career plans years back. By trade, she’s worked as a high school teacher in B.C. and Alberta and is now a registered nurse in Sylvan Lake.

But that inkling to write was always there. And about nine years ago, she had three months between jobs and knew it was time to put her ideas down.

“I got a fair bit done in those three months, but then life takes over,” she says with a laugh during a recent chat. “It’s a mystery and an adventure, with a supernatural take to it.”

Moore indeed is able to construct a brisk and compelling tale for the younger set. Images come easily to mind of the scenes she describes – a testament to her ability to create an imaginative, new world. Her ability to describe details from a 15-year-old’s perspective is also impressive. The writing flows naturally, gathering a steady momentum through to the book’s final portions.

Interestingly, the project sat idle on and off over the years, but ideas and inspiration continued to flourish. “My kids kept pressuring me asking me when I was going to finish the book. My oldest son read it through the whole process and got to see it from its inception to when I finally got it published.”

The House of Dreams focuses on a 15-year-old girl by the name of Jesse Fuller.

“She’s a city girl who moves to a really small town, so there are a lot of changes in her life. They end up in this home where she has these unusual dreams, and her brother is having the exact same dream.”

Jesse soon learns from the other kids in her class that the house she lives in has something of a mysterious past. From that point, she starts to dig a bit deeper into the history of the house to understand why she’s having these dreams.

Interestingly, she also learns her family history may be connected to the situation as well. As the dust cover description concludes, “She finds herself on a desperate quest for a talisman that she believes will help her escape the dreams and forget what she knows about the house.”

Although it took several years to wrap up, Moore, who is originally from Vancouver Island, said the time spent creating the novel was a rich process to help her flesh out the characters and build a setting which enhances the plot as it unfolds.

She describes the book, published by iUniverse which is based in Bloomington, Indiana, as one that’s targeted to those in the 12 to 15-year-old age group.

She also recalls the writing process as coming quite naturally, but she didn’t follow a structured routine. Ideas surfaced now and then – even in the middle of the night – and she would quickly write them down for later consideration.

“It really was a process, because when I started it was just an idea. Then I started thinking about her doing this and doing that. And that was the starting point.”

The setting is also based on a small southern Alberta town, so that sense of realism is that much more powerful. Ultimately, writing has provided Moore with a wonderful creative outlet.

“It’s about creating a new world. That world is very much a part of me; it’s very personal and there are aspects of the main character that are me; and me when I was young.”

The House of Dreams is available online on the Indigo and Barnes & Noble web sites. It can also be ordered directly from the publisher — iUniverse at