Categories: Entertainment

Deen is back with blistering Burned

cover scan

St. Albert’s first writer in residence is back on the new release shelf with a title that might surprise her readers. This time, Natasha Deen has got a surprise or two up her sleeve. Astute fans and aspiring writers could still take a few lessons from the former guide as it turns out.

At the very least, she should be able to offer a stellar role model for other aspiring scribes out there who struggle with not just their creativity but also their work ethic. She’s put out more than 10 books with six coming up in just the last two years. One of her titles, Guardian, won this year’s Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Pick for Kids and Teens.

“You know what it’s like when you’re writing. What do they say? ‘Work while the sun is up.’”

Burned is her contribution to what is called the Retribution series: a trilogy of works by three different authors, each book existing as its own story. You could read one or read them all in any order.

“Sigmund (Brouwer, the trilogy’s creator and one of its other authors) had this idea for a trilogy for a series of books that could be read in any order, with grittier, more edgy tales: kids who are sort-of outlaws but they’re not bad, even though they occasionally do bad things. (It was about) the idea of justice, and all that kind of stuff.”

For her part, the pulpy thriller starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up. From that very first page, she hooks the reader in and leads them on this revenge drama at a blistering pace. At the heart of Burned is Josie Smith, a young woman who lost everything in a house fire, and it was all set by a cop whose mission to uphold the law seems to have taken a bit of a hiatus.

Deen noted that achieving that effect didn’t come easily. Writing is a craft, she said, and it can take a lot of chiselling to get just the right wording.

“I worked so hard!” she exclaimed, the sense of a struggle still audible in her voice. “I was working when the sun was up. I was working when the sun was down. There was no sun in my life! It was so rough!”

“I must have started the first page … I stopped counting after the 20th time trying to figure out a way to get it done. I was so frustrated. You know when you’re so frustrated you could just throw something at the screen? ‘I could just kill this thing!’ I thought, you know what? That’s a great idea! That’s a good line: ‘it would be so easy to kill her.’”

Those are the very eight words that launch Josie off on her quest to get back at the cop and get her life back. In order to do so, she has to rely on the help of some unlikely sources. If things don’t go her way, she’ll just make things worse for herself.

Those eight words not only helped to set the pace and the tone for the story, they also helped Deen to form a strong identity for her protagonist.

“That’s who she is. She’s angry, betrayed and the whole bit. At the end of the day, she believes in justice and not being a total vigilante. I also thought it would be interesting that if push came to shove, if she would be able to stay on the line of ‘I’ll hand you over to the cops’ instead of ‘I’ll do what I want to do with you.’”

People can learn more about this book and the other titles in the trilogy by visiting www.retributiontheseries.com.


Burned – Retribution series
By Natasha Deen
161 pages
Orca Books
Visit www.orcabook.com for more details.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.