The thesis of a creative writing PhD, if anyone is wondering, is the created work. In this case it is a novel written for young/new adults entitled The Networked Wonderland of Us.
You can be anything you want to be online. Shape who you want to be, rewrite your future and wipe out the past.
Or can you?
A well-intentioned art project prompts 16-year-old recent care leaver Riley Ray to post a picture of herself with her parents on a secure blog. Part of a process to put the past behind her and help her move on with her life. But if your father is Deron Ray, that’s a big ask. A year later she is reinvented and living in the safe university town of Macbridge as Kasha Stone. Serving late and alone in a street food van one night she meets first year media student and anti-bullying blogger Taylor Millar. Less than an hour after that meeting Kasha is dead. So begins a journey through digital footprints, shared connections and friendship beyond the grave, as two millennials, two young women from very different backgrounds, search for answers to who they are and what kind of life they want to lead.
With the help of her best friend music first year Rhidian Smith, Taylor turns detective embarking on a journey that begins with the hunt for who killed Kasha but quickly changes to the more complicated search to find out who she really was. As Taylor’s investigation develops her life is threatened, but through her courage, quick thinking and a strong desire to put things right she finds out the truth.
Taylor’s story ends in this book with a new blog, and the title of the novel, The Networked Wonderland of Us, where she posts her digitally inspired fanfic, a digital retelling of Alice in Wonderland where she finds Alice’s journey parallels her own digitally negotiated life. It also lands a life shattering revelation about her own parenthood, where she learns the women she thought was her aunt, activist campaigner Aunt Vivienne is her biological mother.
Taylor’s journey teaches her important lessons in trust, truth and friendship in our digital times. However much we may wish to re-invent ourselves our family ties indelibly shape us.
SGY September 2017