Why we published: Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero, by Michell Plested

One of the joys of running a small publishing house is the ability you have to access unknown authors with that gem of a manuscript. It isn’t an every day occurrence, but I’d have to say it’s happy circumstance that Five Rivers has had an embarrassment of riches from debut authors.

Such was the case when Michell Plested first approached us in 2010 with a story about a young boy determined to be the guardian of his Alberta town of Cranberry Flats. That first submission demonstrated a promising writer with a promising story, but one which didn’t quite hit the bar, so we sent Plested back a detailed critique and encouragement to resubmit when he’d worked out the kinks.

And so he did. That second iteration we received clearly indicated a writer willing to hone his craft, to take constructive criticism and run with it, and we were impressed enough with how well he’d developed the story we offered him a publishing contract for Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero, and the subsequent sequels.

What was it about the story that captured our hearts? There was something reminiscent of W.O. Mitchell’s work in Plested’s story, and yet this wasn’t just a coming of age story about a boy growing up on the prairie. There were elements of many boys’ comic book dreams, of attaining super-powers and shouldering grim responsibility in the face of impossible odds. Yet neither was this a dark journey into the loss of innocence and sacrificial battles. Quite otherwise, Plested revealed both a tenderness and humour in Mik Murdoch’s escapades that had many of us either in tears of joy, or tears of sympathy.

Quite simply, Plested crafted great characters in a great story, using simple and spare language, no frills and absolute honesty.

And what publisher would turn their back on that?

So we didn’t. And in August of 2012 we were thrilled to launch this debut YA fantasy at When Words Collide.

Plested has gone on to garner quite a following of fans who cross all genders, ages and borders. And all of us, from publisher to fans, eagerly await the second installment which is due to hit our In Box some time in the next few weeks.

Michell Plested


  1. I first read Michell's book because I was curious and wanted to make sure my 12 year old would like it. He didn't like it – he loved it and can't wait for the next one. A rare find – something we both enjoyed! You have made a great publishing decision in our humble opinion and we look forward to everything this fantastic author has to offer. Congratulations! Grace and Taron

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