Tullson, Diane 1958-

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Tullson, Diane 1958-

PERSONAL:

Born 1958, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; married; children: two sons. Education: University of Calgary, B.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Delta, British Columbia, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked in newspaper, radio, and travel; speaks at various schools across Canada.

MEMBER:

Writers' Union of Canada, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Children's Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Best Books for Young Adults selection, American Library Association, 2006, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, both for Red Sea.

WRITINGS:

FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Saving Jasey, Orca Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

Edge, Stoddart Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Blue Highway, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Red Sea, Orca Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.

Zero, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

The Darwin Expedition, Orca Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2007.

Lockdown, Orca Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Diane Tullson has had a long and varied career writing young adult books. Her career as a novelist began in 2001 with Saving Jasey. The story is told from the viewpoint of Gavin, an adolescent boy saddled with a depressive mother and an abusive father and brother. In order to escape his unhappy home life, Gavin spends as much time as possible with his friend Trist's family. Unfortunately, things with Trist are not perfect either. His older sister Jasey has taken to sneaking around with Gavin's mean brother, Blake, and his grandfather has been afflicted with a devastating disease. The misery in both families is "masterfully conveyed," according to School Library Journal contributor Karen Hoth, leading to what she dubbed an "explosive climax." While a Publishers Weekly, reviewer found the story "melodramatic" and noted its "tabloid ending," the critic did point out that the portrayal of Gavin will be "believable" to a target audience experiencing similar feelings. Resource Links contributor Betty McDougall had similar mixed reactions, observing the large number of problems in such a short book, the fact that while "Gavin is fully realized," none of the other characters seem to be, and the "hollow" ending, but also listing the book as "easy-to-read." In a review for Kliatt, Rebecca Rabinowitz found Saving Jasey, "skillfully written," displaying a "respect for its readers."

Tullson followed up her debut with Edge, the tale of a ninth-grader named Marlie who has become an outcast in school. She is picked on by many classmates, including her former best friend. Lonely, Marlie allows herself to be drawn into a crowd of people on the fringes of the student body, staying even when she feels uncomfortable with some of the schemes planned by her new "friends." In truth, her one true friend is Chuck, an adult who is a local undertaker. Her friendship with Chuck and belief in herself allow her to be strong and prevent a possible tragedy from occurring. Much as with Saving Jasey, critics such as a Publishers Weekly contributor found that the large number of problems Marlie faces tend to "bog down the narrative" and create a "melodramatic climax." Resource Links contributor Nadine d'Entremont, though, appreciated the author's "keen awareness of the loneliness, uncertainty, and violence that beset many teen-age lives," noting that the atmosphere in the novel is "believably complex—and frightening."

Blue Highway introduces the reader to Truth and Skye, a couple of high school girls who like to drink, party, and ogle cute boys. Over summer vacation, they befriend a girl with a car, which ultimately leads to trouble and a serious lesson about what can happen when one drinks and drives. One critic, Michelle Warry of CM: Canadian Review of Materials, called Blue Highway "boring" and noted the "potential" of the story is never realized. The critic did observe, however, that the novel's later part "moves along quite smartly." Booklist writer Ilene Cooper found that despite a story that "tends to meander," the novel is "a worthwhile read." Although not all comments have been favorable, Blue Highway garnered enough notice to earn a Stellar Award nomination in 2007.

Tullson drew higher acclaim for her 2005 novel, Red Sea. Here she tells the story of Libby, a fourteen-year-old who is on a year-long sailing expedition with her mother and stepfather. While many girls would love the opportunity, all she can think about is the amount of time she will need to spend with her hated stepfather, Duncan, and how long she will be separated from her trouble-maker boyfriend. All of her own personal grudges fade, however, when the sailboat is boarded by pirates, robbed, and disabled, and Duncan and her mother are shot before an impending storm chases the marauders away. Libby is forced to mature very quickly, needing to care for her badly injured mother and get the boat to a safe harbor. Red Sea won several awards, including its selection for the American Library Association's list of Best Books for Young Adults in 2006. Resource Links contributor Susan Miller noted Tullson's "exceptional talent," and how she "vividly portrayed" a "compelling and lasting" tale. Miller dubbed the novel "a must-read," and in Booklist GraceAnne A. DeCandido called the book "an absolute page-turner."

Zero, published in 2006, is a study of hidden eating disorders. Teenager Kas seems to have a perfect life, but her desire to be perfect leads her to an eating disorder that goes unnoticed by friends and family for a long time. Tullson not only creates a narrative that she hopes will reach adolescents, but she also includes a section in the book to help debunk some myths of eating disorders and to describe warning signs.

In 2007, Tullson released The Darwin Expedition, a short novel that tells the story of two friends trying to survive the wilderness after a skiing accident. Heather Empey, reviewing the book for Resource Links, predicted that it "should be popular with teen boys." Kliatt contributor Heather Campbell similarly observed that despite the short length and basic level of the story, Tullson "does an admirable job," adding that The Darwin Expedition should appeal to "those students who enjoy adventure stories but who might struggle with vocabulary" in more advanced books.

Tullson told CA: "I write realistic fiction and am influenced by the real life stories happening in my community and the world. At the heart of every fictional story is a real story. For example, my novel Red Sea is based on a true account of modern-day piracy. I sailed with my family for eighteen months in the Mediterranean. On our travels I met another sailing family—two parents, two kids—who recounted how on a passage in the Red Sea, pirates stopped them with gunfire and boarded their boat. The pirates robbed them of electronics, food, and medical supplies, and they kissed the twelve-year-old girl as they left. The scene of the pirates' kiss began the novel Red Sea.

"My favorite of my books is Red Sea because it is first an adventure story, and second, a teen story. Another favorite is Lockdown, which is written especially for teens who find reading to be a challenge. It is an action-filled story with a clean story line about a shooter in a school and the boy that steps up to stop the violence.

"I believe the purpose of fiction is to make sense of a world that can make little sense. I hope my stories will connect readers to their world."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2003, Jean Franklin, review of Edge, p. 1193; November 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Blue Highway, p. 574; September 1, 2005, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Red Sea, p. 115; April 15, 2007, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Zero, p. 40.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2005, Elizabeth Bush, review of Red Sea, p. 156.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials, January 4, 2002, review of Saving Jasey; April 11, 2003, review of Edge; February 4, 2005, Michelle Warry, review of Blue Highway.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of Red Sea, p. 1091; February 15, 2007, review of The Darwin Expedition.

Kliatt, May, 2002, Rebecca Rabinowitz, review of Saving Jasey, p. 23; March, 2003, Bethan Steward, review of Edge, p. 28; January, 2005, Susan Allison, review of Blue Highway, p. 18; July, 2007, Stephanie Squicciarini, review of Zero, p. 28; September, 2007, Heather Campbell, review of The Darwin Expedition, p. 26.

Library Media Connection, April 1, 2005, Jaime Jeanne Meadows, review of Blue Highway, p. 81.

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 11, 2006, Katie Haegele, "Red Sea: Set Upon by Pirates, Teen Stays Cool."

Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2002, review of Saving Jasey, p. 292; March 31, 2003, review of Edge, p. 68.

Resource Links, February, 2002, Betty McDougall, review of Saving Jasey, p. 36; April, 2003, Nadine d'Entremont, review of Edge, p. 38; February, 2005, Gail de Vos, review of Blue Highway, p. 41; October, 2005, Susan Miller, review of Red Sea, p. 37; April, 2007, Heather Empey, review of The Darwin Expedition, p. 46.

School Library Journal, April, 2002, Karen Hoth, review of Saving Jasey, p. 159; October, 2003, Karen Hoth, review of Edge, p. 180; December, 2004, Rhona Campbell, review of Blue Highway, p. 154; January, 2006, Elizabeth Fernandez, review of Red Sea, p. 144; June, 2007, Joyce Adams Burner, review of Zero, p. 163.

Today's Parent, May, 2006, Stephanie Simpson McLellan, review of Red Sea, p. 26.

United Church Observer, December, 2001, review of Saving Jasey, p. 54; December, 2005, Caley Moore, review of Red Sea, p. 48.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2002, review of Saving Jasey, p. 48; June, 2003, review of Edge, p. 144; February, 2005, C.J. Bott, review of Blue Highway, p. 486; February, 2006, Beth Karpas, review of Red Sea, p. 493.

ONLINE

ABC Book World,http://www.abcbookworld.com/ (January 7, 2008), information on Diane Tullson.

Children's Writers & Illustrators of British Columbia Web site,http://www.cwill.cb.ca/ (January 7, 2008), brief biography of Diane Tullson

Diane Tullson Home Page,http://www.dianetullson.com (January 7, 2008).