A Maple Ridge children’s author is taking a stab at horror.
Leanne Van Dongen’s first young adult book, Death Life, is the first in a series of three books in the Death Life Series.
The story is about three young girls – Felicity, Janessa, and Allison – who are being physically and psychologically tortured by the ghost of an unknown girl. The ghost is testing the strength of the girls’ friendships because she wants them to play a game, that will be introduced in book two of the series, and eventually perform a task, that will be in book three.
The girls are put into situations in which fear and selfishness could be their downfall and where they have to protect themselves as well as each other from dying, explained the 19-year-old.
If one dies – they all die.
Writing horror for the first time, not to mention writing for an older age group, those aged 13- to 18-years-old, had its challenges for Van Dongen.
“I have a bit of a fascination for stories that are a little bit darker,” she said. However, she noted, the story is more complex than her first three books.
Van Dongen started writing when she was only 10. When she turned 12, she came up with the idea for her first book Kate the Great. The determined teen put pen to paper and in two years she had it published. Next in the Showtime Collection of books aimed at young readers was the The Trio, published in 2018, followed by Stage Fright in 2020. The three books were inspired by Van Dongen’s love of figure skating and contained themes of friendships, the stress of performing and overcoming obstacles.
“It’s definitely more involved,” said the teen about Death Life, that she started writing at 17.
“There’s a lot happening with the torture scenes,” she explained, adding that sideline issues like the seriousness of bullying, how to cope with grief, how to stand up for oneself and how to find safety with friends, are also introduced.
“Later on throughout the series more characters come into play. So, the story definitely evolves and it gets bigger and there is more happening. So it’s pretty heavy.”
Currently Van Dongen is working on book two of the horror series, Death Game, which the young author is hoping will be released in 2022.