• James Parry

St. Lazare teen publishes novel spotlighting bullying and parental discord


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Flanked by Westwood High School Vice-Principal Rosanna Riccardi (left) and Principal Marie-Josée Coiteux, Westwood Senior High student, Laura C. Guilbault, was thrilled with the reception she received from classmates and staff during her recent book signing in the school library.

I would like to introduce you to a remarkable young lady named Grace. A troubled teen whose life is falling apart. Her parents are separated and constantly fighting. At her high school, she is shunned and bullied by some of her classmates and, one night, she simply couldn't take it anymore.

In a fit of anguish and distress, she ran off into the forest, only to stumble upon a whole new world that promised happiness and, possibly, her new home. There was a carnival full of fascinating, fun folk who welcomed her with open arms. But it appears that not everything was what it appeared to be.

And now welcome to the real world of Laura C. Guilbault, who lives in St. Lazare, is a student at Westwood Senior High in Hudson, and who has just published her first novel titled Carnival Lights with a book signing at her school last Friday, February 16, with fellow students, principals, and teachers in attendance.

To be honest, I'm only half way through the book, but I have to tell you that so far I am totally captivated and impressed. Even more so when I learned that Guilbault, while occasionally teased at school, has never been the victim of bullying to the same degree as Grace. And that she shares a loving family who has constantly encouraged and supported her in everything she does, including this wonderful novel that has been a year in the making from concept to actual self-publishing.

Explained Guibault in an exclusive interview with The Journal, “I feel that all kids go through a time when they feel picked on and can therefore relate to the character of Grace, who we see transform to deal with her troubles with bullies and family. And through this novel, I want to let them know that they are not alone and that, even when everything seems to be falling apart, they are loved, and things will get better.”

Citing some of her favourite authors as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, Guilbault added, “I had been toying around with the idea of writing a novel about a carnival since the beginning of last May. However, with school work and end-of-term exams, I couldn't get much further than a rough idea until June when I had more free time and could begin to plan the setting, characters, and timeline.”

Added Guibault, “By July, I was writing 800 words every single day until it was finished and, if I missed one day with a good reason such as homework or illness, I would write it down and do double the next day. Then came the editing process. I met with several authors, and researched the various publishing options available to me. In the end, I chose to self-publish and retain all rights to the story. With the help of my parents, Elizabeth and Pierre, I found a printer and my brother Nicholas, who is 19 and is studying Graphic and Web Design at John Abbott College, created the cover and helped me format the layout.”

As for her future plans, Guilbault - who hopes after Westwood to pursue a career in the field of writing and editing and attend the same college as her brother specializing in Arts, Literature and Communication - told The Journal she has more book signings coming up over the next three months. Including Chapters Pointe-Claire, Forest Hill Senior Elementary School, Westwood Junior High School, and the St. Lazare Library.

Said Guilbault, “I will definitely write more in the future and will hopefully go on to publish many more novels. Right now I’m considering creating an anthology with the theme of monsters aimed at younger teens.

“And this summer I am hoping to offer a writing course to students aged 10 to 16 who would like to improve their creative writing skills. I am currently planning for an eight-week course, meeting once a week for two hours when the students will be guided through the writing process of a story of their choosing. Topics will include character, setting and plot development, literary devices, the importance of description, and structure in the story. And anyone who would like to contact me can reach me on my Facebook author page.”

Copies of Carnival Lights, available soon at Chapters Pointe-Claire and on Amazon.

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