Spotlighting Women Authors: Celebrating Women’s History Month with Jade Shyback

By Lizzy Young

For Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting some of our incredible women authors whose books are forthcoming this spring! We collected some books with a feminist theme in a Red Hen Roundup last week, including the debut novel of our first author in this interview series: Jade Shyback!

Jade Shyback was born in Red Deer, Alberta on June 24, 1973. A nature lover, she spent five glorious years with her parents and brother in Nanaimo, British Columbia, riding her bike and scavenging for sea life on the rocky beaches of the Pacific coast. At age nine she returned to Alberta to live on a farm nicknamed Mosquito Flats until she obtained a degree in English, the only faculty that would have her, from the University of Calgary. A career in financial services led her to Toronto and onward to Abu Dhabi where she raised three daughters amidst sand and camels while working in Dubai as a financial regulator. She now lives in Oakville with her ‘guard’ dogs and judgmental cat. Jade’s hobbies include beekeeping, boating, playing tennis, and gardening. Aqueous is her debut novel, and despite her love of the ocean she would never descend two and a half kilometers to live beneath it.

Author photo of Jade Shyback sittting behind a desk.

Lizzy Young: Who are some women authors that inspire you?

Jade Shyback: I thoroughly enjoyed Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. In addition to masterful YA storytelling, she effortlessly connects to readers. Those who follow her on social media have a backstage pass to her happy, sometimes goofy, life. She’s charmingly authentic.

Book cover of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Kiera Cass, Emily Henry, and Taylor Jenkins Reid kept my daughters reading and for that, I have huge admiration. As I wrote Aqueous, my girls, who are motivationally bossy, kept telling me to be more like them. I ignored that advice and stayed true to my voice, but I appreciated the enthusiasm.

Fellow Canadians Marissa Stapley and Bryn Turnbull have an ease to their writing. Words pour effortlessly from their pens (probably not, but that’s how it seems) and they’re nice human beings. Kindness matters.

LY: How do you hope your work adds to the rich history of books written by women?

JS: Aqueous is categorized as science fiction, but it’s a story of mothers and daughters with an intense focus on love. The love between the female characters leads them to great sacrifice and strength. Aqueous reinforces the power of women.

LY: Who are some of your favorite female characters in literature, and why?

JS: Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery), hard-working and stoic, was misunderstood. Labeled as cold and uncaring, she was loyal and loving. I do not like it when women, fictional or real, are inaccurately generalized in this way. Fortunately, Marilla’s true nature was eventually revealed.

Book Cover of Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe (as in Madeline Miller’s Circe) was treated horribly (like we’ve all been at some point) and rose above it. Okay, maybe she sought rightful revenge during moments in the story, but the novel ultimately begs the question: do we really need others to make us feel complete? I have a lot of respect for this character and if I could move to her island and garden the rest of my life away, I would do so in a heartbeat.

And lastly, and this one is very biased, my protagonist, Marisol Blaise, is the absolute best. How many of us can say that we’ve been somewhere unfamiliar, tried our best to fit in, and failed? I think we can all say that, and whether it’s real or imagined, just or unjust, it’s painful when it happens. The main thing is to believe in yourself and keep trying. Confidence and courage come from within.

If Jade’s answers, got you piqued about her novel, find out more information below!

From debut young adult novelist Jade Shyback comes the first in the Aqueous series. On the eve of Earth’s collapse, young Marisol Blaise is taken to live on an underwater mersation known as Aqueous with parents not her own. There, she must compete in the trials, grueling tests designed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each trainee, hoping to be assigned to the all-male elite diving team known as the Cuviers. Desperate to prove to herself, the residents, and all of her parents, dead and alive, that she is worthy of this prestigious placement, she works tirelessly to shatter misogynistic beliefs, only to discover that it was not only the men who constrained her. A much uglier untruth exists.

Preorder her novel at this link today!

Thanks so much to Jade for her kind and generous answers! We are so grateful she is one of the many incredible women authors in the Red Hen community. Keep watching the blog in March for more interviews to celebrate Women’s History Month!



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Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools.