Author Feature: Shelley Hrdlitschka

Lost Boy: Raised in a polygamous community, Jon starts to question the rules of his faith. After he is caught kissing a girl, he is forced to flee his town and the only life he knows. He finds a community of other Lost Boys, or “polygs,” but is utterly unprepared for life outside his community of Unity. He spirals into a life of numbing booze, drugs and homelessness. When he hits rock bottom, someone from his past enters his new life and helps him find his way.

Jon and several of the novel’s other characters were introduced in Shelley Hrdlitschka’s earlier novel Sister Wife.

What planning or research did you do for your book?

I’ve done an extensive amount of research on polygamous communities. It started with an interest in Bountiful, BC, and grew from there. I’ve read many memoirs from men and women who have left those communities. My research began before I wrote Sister Wife and continued when I decided to write about the lost boys of polygamy.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing but it wasn’t until I became a teacher and loved story time so much that decided to try writing books for young people myself.

What’s the best surprise you had in the process of writing this book?

I was surprised that Jimmy decided to build a home for girls and women who wanted to escape polygamy. I didn’t know he would do that when I started the book but it felt very satisfying.

Is there a genre or form you’ve never written in but would like to try writing?

The more I read books written in free verse, the more I’ve come to love that style. So much can be said in so few words.

Do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

I used to volunteer at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Animals and became enamored with the grizzly bears. Although I no longer volunteer there, I still love to go visit them when I can.

What is the most challenging part of being a writer?

Getting started. Every day.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

That feeling of satisfaction when you know you’ve written a good scene.

What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?

I hope the conversation about how polygamy affects young girls and boys will continue and laws will be enforced to protect girls from being married so young. As well, both the boys and girls in these communities need to receive the kind of education that will allow them to make choices for their own futures. It’s one thing for consenting adults to choose polygamy but completely different when it is forced on children who don’t know anything else.

Lost Boy is available now.

Shelley Hrdlitschka has written many novels for teens, including Sister Wife, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, where she hikes, snowshoes and hangs out with grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. For more information, visit shelleyhrdlitschka.ca.

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