Sixteen-year-old Becky has been in love with her best friend Hugo forever so when they finally get together, she’s thrilled. Then she finds out that he’s only been dating her on a dare, leaving her with no choice: she’ll have to run away to Mexico… or Canada, as that’s where her aunt Jean lives.
All she needs to do is convince her family to let her move to Canada permanently. With her new, anonymous Instagram account, she can create the image she’s always wanted. Well, as soon as she’s restocked on underwear (it turns out throwing your knickers through a first floor window can result in them becoming stuck in the gutter – oops). With the help of some cute pictures of her and Canadian hockey enthusiast Adam, Becky becomes internet famous and she’s never felt so adored. The problem? The photos aren’t hers to post.
Adam introduces Becky to the drive-in movie theatre, the local hikes, the corn maze and the town ice-cream parlour. Soon, Becky can’t imagine home without Adam or Canada, but she’ll lose them both if Adam finds out she’s been secretly posting his best friend’s pictures of them all over the internet.
PICTURE THIS is a Young Adult contemporary romance complete at 70,000 words. It has the sweetness of Anna and the French Kiss and the humour of The Exact Opposite of Okay, set in beautiful Canada.
I graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA Honors degree in English and went on to work in children’s publishing. When I visited family in Canada, I fell in love with the place and was inspired to set a story there. I am currently training as an English teacher, and in my spare time, I run a booktube channel called Read By Jess where I work with publishers and interview authors. I recently won the UK Young Adult Blogger Award for Publishers’ Choice for my YouTube channel and I am an active member of the online community. My experiences online served as inspiration for my exploration of social media themes.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Jessikah Hope Stenson
When I land in Vancouver, it takes them forty minutes to connect the steps, so by the time my feet touch the tarmac, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to breathe clean air instead of recirculated fart air. It’s like being born again, except without all the blood. I follow the crowds through the arrivals and hand over my passport to the official, complete with a photo of me looking constipated and my full name, Rebecca Artemis Crawford, which makes me sound like I’ve just walked out of Downton Abbey. It’s the kind of name that makes old people think I’m a Nice Girl. The official glances up at me and then back at the photo like he’s either wondering what the hell I’d eaten before that photo was taken or… Or, he’s wondering why a sixteen year old girl is travelling across continents on her own with mascara smudges all over her cheeks.
Don’t ask don’t ask don’t ask.
“I need to take your photo,” he mutters. Then, before I know it, I’m looking into a webcam like a startled guinea pig and another terrible photo has been taken of me. Only, this one belongs to the Canadian government. Great, I’m sure they’ll have a good laugh about that.
“What is the purpose of your visit?” the official asks.
I haven’t spoken since I said ‘excuse me’ to an old couple in duty free twelve hours before, so my voice comes out like a baby’s first words. “My Aunt,” I try to say.
“What?” he asks. He stops typing on his computer and looks directly at me.
The bum sweats set in then.
“Um…” I start. Do I tell him what Hugo did to me? How embarrassing it will be if I turn back now? How everyone in school thinks I’m the biggest joke? Or how Lainey, aka the queen of all terrible advice and my bestest best friend in the whole entire world, said I’d get over it when that’s clearly never going to happen? Just how much detail are you meant to go into with border control?
I must look like a deer about to hit the bonnet of a car because the official gives me a pitying smile, like he wishes he could offer me a biscuit or something. Speaking of which, I’m absolutely starving. Plane meals are never big enough.
“Business or pleasure?” he rephrases, like he’s rooting for me to say the right answer and get out of here.
Even I can’t mess that up. “Pleasure,” I say, although it’s not the best word to describe your underwear sticking to your butt.
With my passport back in hand, I scuttle off for the flight to Kelowna. I almost miss my connecting plane when I realise I’ve been standing at the wrong gate for half an hour, but that’s just part of the challenge. I’ve always wanted to run through the airport like I’m in Home Alone 2. Only one hour to go until my new life can begin. The only thing that could make things worse would be to have forgotten something major, like my pants.