Behind-the-scenes of Opposite Identicals

In the spring of 2013, a Florida man was suddenly and tragically swallowed up by a massive sinkhole that opened up under his bed while he was sleeping. Despite the efforts of his brother, who tried to jump into the hole and save him, his body was never recovered. The house and neighboring homes were all eventually demolished. The land remains cordoned off a decade later, because the ground is still dangerously unstable.

The idea for Opposite Identicals sprung from this most unusual and tragic event. As soon as I heard the story on the news, I knew I wanted to write about a sinkhole. I was fascinated by the concept that everything we consider safe and secure in our world – including the very ground beneath our feet – could destabilize in the blink of an eye. And that a person could be doing something as innocuous as taking a nap in their own bedroom, and suddenly be sucked down into the bowels of the earth. I started researching sinkholes and, when I discovered that they’re often caused by atypical weather conditions, the plot pieces began connecting in my brain and leading me to the angle I wanted my story to take. 

I imagined a futuristic world, gripped by a climate crisis with the resulting extreme weather conditions having disastrous effects on the planet’s food supply. And, just like the event that transpired in Florida, I imagined one sibling getting swallowed up by a sinkhole under her bedroom floor while the other sibling tries in vain to save her. I centered the story around middle-grade characters, because they’re the ones who’ll eventually be inheriting the earth and all its problems. 

As the manuscript started veering more and more into the realm of speculative fiction, I read up extensively on climate change and scientific prognostications for the future of our planet. Just over a decade ago, climate change was a relatively new and controversial subject. It’s been equally astounding and horrifying to see so many of those prognostications coming true over the course of the ten years it took to write, revise, and publish this book. Phrases like fire season, danger season, melting ice caps, and ocean warming which might have sounded like dystopian hyperbole ten years ago have become our new reality. And sadly, not so speculative after all. 

As we head into 2024, is the world nearing the point where everything we consider safe and secure might, indeed, become destabilized in the blink of an eye? It certainly feels that way when we read reports about toxic orange skies hovering over New York City and apocalyptic flood waters submerging a third of Pakistan.

“Mother Nature’s got no poker face,” explains Mr. Otis, a character in Opposite Identicals. “Always giving away her hand. The signs are all there, if you know what to look for.” 

Indeed, the signs are there. And they’re getting increasing glaring with every passing year. Hopefully, if more people start paying closer attention to them, there might still be time for a planetary plot twist. But if we continue to ignore the signs, I wouldn’t want to speculate about what might happen next. 
If I ever decide to write a sequel to Opposite Identicals, it will be about how the heroic youth of our world stepped up and saved us from ourselves. And maybe…hopefully…it won’t be a work of science fiction.

By Deborah Kerbel

New Year, New Deals!

Get ready for I Love To Read month with print books discounted by 40-60% on our website. Sale ends February 15th.

Full List:

60% Off!!

Gracelessland, Adam Lindsay Honsinger
The Light that Remains, Lyse Champagne
Peculiar Lessons, Lois Braun
Privilege, Jason Patrick Rothery
Somewhere North of Normal, Adam Lindsay Honsinger
Where the Waters Meet, Stéphanie Boulay
Winter Willow, Deborah-Anne Tunney
Family of Spies, Jodi Carmichael

50% Off!!

Children of Tomorrow, J.R. Burgmann
Overcome, Anne Mahon
Winning Chance, Katherine Koller
Underland, Colleen Nelson and Nancy Chappell-Pollack
Parallel Prairies, edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash
A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba Volume 3 (2015), Bartley Kives

40% Off!!

Art Lessons, Katherine Koller
Backbone of Night, GMB Chomichuk
Cedar Dance, Monica Nawrocki
Chasing Baby, Morwenna Trevenen
Pulse Point, Colleen Nelson and Nancy Chappell-Pollack
Redemption, Anne Mahon
The Shadow Over Portage and Main, edited by Keith Cadieux and Dustin Geeraert
The Truth About the Barn, David Elias

30% Off!!

My Left Skate, Anna Rosner

Fall 2023 Titles Are On the Way

While we don’t want summer to end just yet, we wanted to give a reminder that our Fall titles are available for pre-order and will be out in the world before you know it! Our first of the fall season is the novel Children of Tomorrow by J.R. Burgmann which is being published on September 12, followed swiftly by the debut memoir from Carol Youngson, Take Your Baby and Run on October 10. For younger readers, Opposite Identicals by Deborah Kerbel drops on October 24. And last but certainly not least is the final entry in Gordon Goldsborough’s popular Manitoba history trilogy, On the Road to Abandoned Manitoba, publishing on November 21. All titles are available directly through us or at your favourite bookstore.

Arielle Aaronson – Women in Translation Month

August is Women in Translation Month, an annual celebration of women writers from around the world writing in languages other than English. It’s also a chance to recognize the women who work to translate works from other languages into English in order to share those voices. This month, we want to share some words from Arielle Aaronson, translator of the recent translation of Marie-Renée Lavoie’s middle grade novel, The Curious Misadventures of Kitty the Cat. Here she explains a little bit of what it’s like to bring a story from one language into another.

“This is the fourth title by Marie-Renée Lavoie that I’ve translated. Every time I sit down with one of her books, it feels like I’m continuing a conversation with an old friend. I get to laugh at her humor and wit, but I’m also able to watch her characters and themes develop as her writing evolves. It’s a lot like sitting in the passenger seat for a very scenic drive. Often you can tell where the car is headed, sometimes you want to reach over and take the wheel, but mostly you act as a second pair of eyes and ears (or paws, in this case).

For this book, it was such fun to imagine the universe of a family pet. My task was threefold: I had to translate Marie-Renée’s words into English, create an English voice for Kitty himself, and develop a style that was accessible yet goofy enough to draw in younger readers. Some of my biggest challenges involved striking the right tone for a pun (would you believe it took me months to come up with”poo-tunia”?) or landing on a name like “Spitball.” If I’ve done my job right, you’ll fall in love with Kitty just as I did.”

Hot Summer to Fall Launches

Summer has been hot hot from coast to coast and we hope you have found time to curl up in the shade with a great book!

It’s never too early to jot fall book launches into your calendars and we hope you can join us for the following Winnipeg events at McNally Robinson on Grant:

October 11th – Parallel Prairies, edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash, will get you set to spook!

October 25th – More Abandoned Manitoba, Gordon Goldsborough’s much anticipated follow-up to the 2016 hit!

November 18th – Coop The Great launches his adventure! This middle grade book by Larry Verstraete will have you rooting for this down-and-out dachshund.

Yellow Dog Launches!

We are proud to announce the launch of Yellow Dog, our latest imprint named in honour of our favourite #dogAtWork, Scout. You can read all about the imprint in our latest e-news. Interested in submitting? Be sure to review our guidelines.

While we’re jazzed about the Spring list – announcement coming soon! – we are also busy bees working away on our Fall titles. Be sure to catch these upcoming launches at McNally Robinson Booksellers:

October 26 – Anne Mahon’s Redemption illuminates the harsh realities of gang life.

November 15 – Stuck In The Middle 2 kicks off. Bartley Kives and Bryan Scott’s Stuck In The Middle was a smash hit in 2013.

November 22 – Who is the greatest Manitoba hockey player of all time? Get down to the launch of Golden Boys by Ty Dilello to find out!


May launches

We are gearing up for our final releases of the Spring 2017 season!

On May 11th Byron Rempel will visit Winnipeg to launch The Bodice Ripper. The novel follows McGill professor Anna Hill as she gives up on a romance of her own, and fashions a harlequin of her own set in Medieval Spain. But will a visiting Parisian professor prove to her that romance is history?

Politicos, news buffs and … comedy fans (?) will want to catch Gord Mackintosh at his launch of Stories Best Left Untold: Tales of a Manitoba legislator at McNally Robinson on May 23rd. Gord’s many years in public life have left him with many tales to tell indeed!



Spring Books are off!

GP_Gracelessland_cover_NEWThe sun is shining, the plants are blooming, and our authors are launching! Yes, spring is officially here.

Jodi Carmichael kicked off the release of Forever Julia with a standing-room-only launch event in McNally Robinson’s Atrium. Since then, she’s received an excellent review from The Winnipeg Free Press (“This is a young writer to watch”), and is garnering glowing feedback on her current blog tour (follow her adventures on her website).

Richard Cumyn also had a successful launch in Kingston for his collection of novellas, Famous Last Meals. Kathleen Winter calls this collection “a cross between Maurice Dekobra and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

This week will see the launch of Gracelessland, our first Enfield & Wizenty novel since Méira Cook’s stunning The House On Sugarbush Road.  Adam Lindsay Honsinger’s coming of age, anti-hero mental hospital adventure had us glued to the page and we can’t wait to see what the rest of Canada thinks about this outstanding young writer!

Additional May launches include A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba, a completely revised edition from Bartley Kives, and On The Air: The Golden Age of Manitoba Radio by Garry Moir.  Both authors are booking media interviews and author signings already!

Spring List

GP_Gracelessland_cover_NEWIt may still be January, but we are in the midst of designing, printing and promoting our spring titles. We have a novel from an exciting new author set to launch in Toronto in early May. Our last novel under Enfield & Wizenty, The House On Sugarbush Road, won the Book of the Year Award among numerous honours, and we have been combing our submissions for the next novel to release under our E&W imprint.  Adam Lindsay Honsinger’s Gracelessland arrived with a quirky narrator and a glowing blurb from Annabel Lyon, and we are thrilled to hit the print button on a book that has everyone here at Great Plains Publications buzzing.

Visit the New Titles section of our website to find out more about all of our titles set to hit bookshelves this spring.  It’s never too early to plan that summer reading list!

Exciting Fall List

HauntedWpg_cover_v2While we are enjoying summer here at Great Plains, fall is on our mind.  We have strong list of books set to hit the shelves of your favourite local shop!

Crime writer Mike McIntyre looks back at his 20 years covering the beat while historian Matt Komus is set to spook us with tales from the heart of the continent.  Ghosts are also haunting our Teen Fiction imprint with a sharp novel from Natasha Deen.  Enfield & Wizenty will publish short story collections from two fine literary writers, Deborah-Anne Tunney and Elaine McCluskey .

See all of our Fall 2014 titles right here on our website and in our Fall 2014 catalogue!

Friend.Follow.Text garnering media buzz


Enfield & Wizenty’s Friend.Follow.Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline is a short fiction anthology that explores the intersection between social media and literature.  Edited by Shawn Syms, the collection features writers from across Canada and the United States. Released just last month, Friend. Follow. Text. has already grabbed the attention of literary critics and readers. The book is available at fine book stores everywhere, and (of course!) as an ebook.

The Chicago Tribune printed a review in their weekend edition, which you can check out here!

“The use of social media allows for interesting structural choices with pieces using message board posts, IM conversations or Instagram photos to push the stories forward.” —  Courtney Crowder, Chicago Tribune

“An impressive collection, with a number of stunning stories.” — Robert J. Wiersma,Quill & Quire

“A comprehensive exploration of all things online… For anyone striving to make sense of the experiences of ‘living online,’ Friend Follow Text is worth picking up.”
— Andrea Routley, Plenitude Magazine

“Stories inspired by… social media — tweets, emails, blogs, Facebook updates and the like…There is fun and novelty to be had.”
— Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

“The inventive forms share experiences a majority of people relate to today… For those of us who use social media all the time, and those who would rather stay away, there is at least one piece to strike anyone’s chord.”
— Kristen Nathan, Chicago Literati

New for Kindle

authorNaomi Lewis’ I Know Who You Remind Me Of is now available on Kindle!  This celebrated collection of short stories was the winner of the 2012 Colophon Prize and Finalist for the 2013 Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction.

“Flowing seamlessly from the tragic to the hilarious, the nine unusual tales set mainly in Canadian cities, are eccentric and original.” – Winnipeg Free Press

Get your copy on Amazon, or the product page on this website!

A launch and a great review!

More exciting news here at Great Plains Publications!

Our spring YA titles continue to shine, with a fantastic review of The Fall just in from CM Magazine:

“The theme of how grief is handled by men and boys permeates this novel and makes it a must-read for teachers and older teens, both boys and girls. The physical and emotional absence of men in the novel’s demographic will raise many passionate discussions, but it is the boys’ pain and grief that will engage students who will have strong opinions on the issues raised in this timely Canadian novel.”
— Highly recommended, CM Magazine


May 7, Anne Mahon’s The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Extraordinary Courage launches at McNally Robinson at 7 pm.  Storytellers from the novel will be present and some will read.  We are excited to hear that Lloyd Axworthy will also take part, reading a story submitted by “Anonymous.”  Excerpts of the novel have been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press and on CBC.  We hope to see you there!

and away!

Great Plains Teen Fiction has seen 3 successful launches this month.  It all started with Brenda Hammond and Cape Town on April 14th at Chapters in Ottawa, then Nelsa Roberto with The Break on April  20th at Type Books in Toronto.  Kevin Marc Fournier launched The Green-Eyed Queen of Suicide City on April 24th at McNally Robinson and we’re looking forward to another great event for Jocelyn Shipley when she launches How to Tend a Grave on May 24th at Ben McNally in Toronto.  Congratulations to all our 2012 YA authors who have written truly engaging novels.

E Party!

We’re really excited to have our first e-books available for purchase on this site!  Craig Russell’s Black Bottle Man, Lyle E. Style’s Ain’t Got No Cigarettes, Nerys Parry’s Man and Other Natural Disasters and international best selling author W.P. Kinsella’s Butterfly Winter are all currently available.

…and launch!

Great Plains is celebrating two extremely well attended book launches from November 16th.  Approximately 175 guests at McNally Robinson were eager to hear about the life of Dr. Jack Fainman (They Shoot Doctors, Don’t They?) and another 200 Winnipeg book lovers attended the Chapters, Polo Park event to hear Mike McIntyre relate how “Project Angel” cracked the Candace Derksen case (Journey for Justice).  Congratulations Dr. Fainman and Mike McIntyre not only on your wonderful books but for convincing so many of us to put off hibernating just a little longer to support local authors!