Guest Author Post: Blank Canvas by Mere Joyce *GIVEAWAY*

Jun 30, 2015 by

Guest Author Post: Blank Canvas by Mere Joyce *GIVEAWAY*

 

 

It’s always difficult to tell where an idea is going to take you, or how long it will take for that idea to truly complete itself. Blank Canvas, in its most primitive stages, started with a dream I had at the age of fifteen. I dreamt I was in a white room, held captive by a man who covered the walls with paint. And then, I escaped.

The rest of the dream has faded into the past, but that single scene has never left me. As a teenager, Blank Canvas (known at the time simply as The Painter) was one of the very first stories I ever wrote. It was a thriller, with a different plot about a different girl living a different life and being tormented by The Painter in a totally different way.

The story sat in a file on my computer for years, until I finally made the decision to take writing seriously. The Painter’s tale was the first piece I ever queried, and it was, subsequently, my first ever rejection!

I have since learned a lot about writing. And while I’ve always kept The Painter and his story tucked away in my mind, I eventually moved onto other projects and thought it would be a long time before I’d think about that old story again. But then one day, out of nowhere, I started to wonder what it would be like to tell that same old story from a different angle. I started from scratch, never once looking at the original manuscript. I wrote a new plot, with a new girl living a new life. I wrote a completely new tale.

I love where Blank Canvas ended up. I had a lot of fun writing Maddie’s story, and I learned a great deal both about the art of painting, and about the mind of a girl living with the kind of past Maddie’s had. But even though Blank Canvas is now first and foremost Maddie’s tale (as I certainly think it should be), the character of The Painter is–and always has been–the original star of the show.

Three years ago, sixteen-year-old Maddie Deacon was abducted on her way home from her school’s Art Showcase. Five months ago, she escaped the madman she calls The Painter. Before being taken, painting was Maddie’s life. Now, it’s her nightmare.

Maddie wants to forget her years in captivity. She’d rather spend her time getting reacquainted with her parents and her sister, not to mention her cello-playing, beautiful boy next door and childhood best friend Wesley. But paint is everywhere, and tormenting shadows linger in every portrait she encounters.

When the yearly Art Showcase once again approaches, Maddie has the chance to win a scholarship and start planning a future far away from the horrors of her past. She knows she has to make a choice–confront her memories of The Painter and overcome her fear of the canvas, or give up painting forever.

 

 

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Three years ago, sixteen-year-old Maddie Deacon was abducted on her way home from her school’s Art Showcase. Five months ago, she escaped the madman she calls The Painter. Before being taken, painting was Maddie’s life. Now, it’s her nightmare.Maddie wants to forget her years in captivity. She’d rather spend her time getting reacquainted with her parents and her sister, not to mention her cello-playing, beautiful boy next door and childhood best friend Wesley. But paint is everywhere, and tormenting shadows linger in every portrait she encounters.

When the yearly Art Showcase once again approaches, Maddie has the chance to win a scholarship and start planning a future far away from the horrors of her past. She knows she has to make a choice–confront her memories of The Painter and overcome her fear of the canvas, or give up painting forever.

 

Excerpt:

“Hello, Maddie,” Tim says, taking a sip from his Healing Expressions coffee cup. I’m glad he and Juliet call me Maddie instead of Madison, like Klara does. I’ve gone by Maddie since my days in preschool, and being called it here makes the office seem slightly less institutional.

Of course, it doesn’t make this moment any less awful.

“H-hi,” I stammer, my voice thin. My feet ache as I force them across the threshold. Tim prefers it if I close the door behind me, but I need to see my escape route. Shakily, I cross the room and sit on the bench along the wall of windows that look down over the parking lot. The cushions are soft, bright orange, and there are pink and green and blue throw pillows scattered along the seat. I grab the blue one, and hug it to my chest as I stare at the world on the free side of the glass panes.

It’s a strange sensation, watching the world like this. In elementary school, at recess, I would sit by the fences backing the neighborhood houses. With my head tilted into the cool fall or warm spring breeze, I would close my eyes and picture the people in those houses: people not working, people working from home, people driving the streets or watering their lawns or relaxing in front of the TV, while I remained stuck at school for another several hours. I have the same thoughts now as I gaze over the parking lot, far out to the park, the townhouse complex, and the streets beyond. So many people sleeping, reading, shopping––all while I’m here, trapped behind a wall of glass.

It helps to keep my back to the easel. Slowly, the panic of my arrival subsides, and I take full gulping breaths until I’ve settled into muted unease.

“How are you feeling today, Maddie?” Tim asks. He remains seated. I get antsy if his six-foot-three inch body looms over me.

“I’m fine,” I lie. I’m never fine. Not anymore. But declaring it is like stating the obvious.

“How’s school?” I can hear a smile in his voice. I like Tim’s voice, with its deep, quietly enthusiastic tone. I’m fairly certain I like Tim, too. Or at least I would, if the circumstances were different. If he didn’t have the task of prying, of guiding me into frigid, infested waters every time we meet.

“It’s fine,” I say, shrugging my shoulders.

Tim’s chair scrapes across the floor as he stands. I keep my eyes fixed on the parking lot outside. I’ve found Wesley’s tiny van, and I watch it intently.

Tim approaches, sits on the bench a ways off. “Did you read any papers this week?”

“No.” The tension I nearly shed on the ride over here is creeping back again. I hate therapy. I don’t understand how digging into every unpleasant crevice of my subconscious is supposed to make my life easier.

“How about the news? Did you watch any?” Tim asks, even though I’m already shaking my head.

“Y-You know I didn’t,” I reply, and Tim breathes out, the resulting sound just short of a sigh.

“How many times have you had to avoid his picture?” he asks, and I squeeze the pillow until my fingers are white.

“S-Seventy … S-Seventy-two,” I choke out.

It’s become a habit keeping track of the number of times I stop myself from seeing him. When I go to the drugstore and see the papers lined in a hideous row. When the news comes on, and reporters rehash what happened.

In the beginning, it was far harder. There were articles all over, news stories, constant threats to my sanity. Five months on, most of my count comes from the personal attacks, the times I remember something, imagine something, and his face almost manages to push its way in.

“Good. An improvement on last week,” Tim says, the pleasing smoothness of his voice giving the achievement a more respectable air than it deserves. Last week there were seventy-eight occurrences. Having six fewer episodes means nothing, except Tim is trying to be as positive as possible.

Plus, there’s the phone call to consider. Last week might have been an improvement, but I’m certain my methods of diversion will fail to keep me from replaying the conversation I wasn’t supposed to hear this morning.

 

 

About the author:
Mere Joyce lives in Ontario, Canada. As both a writer and a librarian, she understands the importance of reading, and the impact the right story can have. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario.

When she’s not writing, reading, or recommending books, Mere likes to watch movies with her husband, play games with her son, go for walks with her dog, and drink lots of earl grey tea with orange chocolate on the side.

Blog: merejoyce.blogspot.com

Twitter: @MereJoyceWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8424997.Mere_Joyce

 

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1 Comment

  1. merejoycewriter

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    Thank you for featuring me today, and for being a part of my blog tour!

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