14 Sept 2016

We Can(ada) Read: Interview with Catherine Lo!

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadianfor EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors! We have 16 Canadian bloggers highlighting 16 Canadian authors plus you can hear about what it's like to live in Canada and write CanLit from 8 Canadian authors, most of which are 2016 debuts! For a full schedule of events during We Can(ada) Read, please click HERE!

Catherine Lo is a high school teacher who has the good fortune to work with some of the most creative and personable kids around. She keeps her classroom bookshelves stocked with the latest YA fiction, and considers it her personal mission to match even the most reluctant readers with books that will speak to them. Catherine lives in Mississauga, Ontario with her husband and two children. HOW IT ENDS is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:

What is your favourite part about being a Canadian author?

Catherine LoThe Canadian bookish community is extraordinary. I’ve had enormous support from Raincoast Books, from incredible Canadian book bloggers, and from fans across the country. Getting to know so many Canadians who are passionate about books has been the highlight of this year.

What do you think Canadian authors can exclusively bring to the table?

Catherine LoI think of YA literature as a conversation, with each work bringing its own contribution to the discussion. There is a wonderfully diverse group of Canadian YA writers who are bringing their unique voices and experiences to the world of YA. 

What is your favourite “Canadian tradition”?

Catherine LoEscaping the city to head to cottage country in the summertime. My earliest memories as a child involve swimming in the lake, hiking the Bruce Trail, and reading well after lights-out with a flashlight in my bunkbed. 

How do you think your life as a Canadian overlaps with your writing? Do we see any of this in HOW IT ENDS?

Catherine LoI’m fairly certain my life as a Canadian permeates a great deal of what I do, including my writing. How It Ends is set in Canada, and tells the story of two girls during their sophomore year at a high school in suburban Ontario. 

Describe HOW IT ENDS  in 10 words or less.

Catherine LoA realistic story about the complexities of female friendship.

What was the hardest part about writing about female friendships in high school?

Catherine LoDoing justice to the topic! I’ve worked with teens as a high school teacher for many years, and I’ve seen how complex and meaningful their friendships are. I think we often underestimate how profoundly the ups and downs of friendship can affect us, and I felt a responsibility to capture that in How It Ends.

Whose point of view was the most fun to write? The easiest to write? Why? Were there scenes that were easier to write as either Jessie or Annie?

Catherine LoGreat question! I had a lot of fun writing Annie’s character, especially in the early stages of the book when she and Jessie first meet. The scenes where they’re first getting to know each other and are revealing bits about themselves to one another were such a joy to write. 

In some ways, Jessie was the easiest character to write, but in others she was extremely difficult. I related to her issues around anxiety, so her reactions and worries came naturally to me, but it was painful to write some scenes and think about the ways her anxiety impacted her life and relationships.

For the most part, I wrote each scene from the perspective that felt most natural. There is one scene, though, that I originally wrote from Jessie’s point of view, and later changed to Annie’s, even though it was much more difficult to write. Annie and Jessie are having an intense argument in the scene, and I found it easier to see the issues from Jessie’s perspective. When my extremely intuitive editor at HMH Kids, Sarah Landis, read the scene, she challenged me to rewrite it from Annie’s point of view. Shifting the perspective made me look at the argument from a whole new angle, and it brought so much more to the surface.

How do you and your best friend get through the highs and lows of friendship?

Catherine LoI think trust is huge, as is empathy. I’m very fortunate in that my closest friends and I accept each other for who we are, flaws and all. I have a tendency to get caught up in life and not keep in touch as well as I should, but I’m blessed with friends who understand my quirks, and who draw me out of my shell and challenge me to be more social. 

Where do you think your main characters would want to live if they lived in present day Canada?

Catherine LoAnnie’s a city girl at heart, and I can see her loving downtown Toronto, with its vibrant arts scene. I think she’d aspire to attend OCAD U (The Ontario College of Art and Design University) after high school, where she’d thrive. In contrast, I think Jessie would prefer living in a smaller, more tight-knit community. I see her heading east after high school, and attending a university like Acadia in Nova Scotia. 

Are you working on your sophomore novel? Is there anything you can tell us about that?

Catherine LoYES! I’m really excited to say that I’m putting some final touches on my sophomore novel before I show it to my editor (fingers crossed!). I’m beyond excited about this book. It’s too early to say much about it, but it does involve three very unlikely co-conspirators and a scandal that rocks their high school.


Author: Catherine Lo
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 7, 2016

There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They're BFFs…until suddenly they're not. 

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other. 


  1. By respecting that we are different, yet have the same goals and are a team.

  2. My best friend is my everything. She's like a sister! I don't remember a time when we didn't get along


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