Sophie Côté wanted to be a writer someday but was not planning to write a novel just yet. But, in a year where plans have changed for most people, she went ahead and did it.
Côté is 14 years old and is in grade nine at École catholique Samuel-Genest in Ottawa. During the spring of 2020, she was very bored at home when school and social life were shut down due to the initial wave of COVID-19.
“I decided to use the time; I had to be productive,” she said.
Inspired by television shows such as Stranger Things and an intrigue with mystery and crime, the result of her writing is “The Scavenger Lords.” Côté was also inspired by the great imagination of Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic, Anne of Green Gables.
Set in the spring of 1994 in rural Tennessee, The Scavenger Lords is the story of eight 15-year-old teenagers—four girls and four boys who begin the story as rivals, but end up as friends, and yes, there is a bit of romance, too. What brings them together is the kidnapping of one of the girls and one of the boys by a local gang called The Scavenger Lords. It is revealed that the gang had been kidnapping two teenagers from the local community every five years beginning in 1974. The kidnapping, and the resulting search for their missing friends creates suspense and anticipation in the story.
For anyone who was a teenager in 1994, The Scavenger Lords is a reminder of days that seemed much more relaxing than our current times. The absence of internet and smartphones reminds readers that society functioned before those items. There is only a brief reference to video games. Other mid-1990s reminders are when a character makes a call from a payphone and mention of the Swedish pop band Ace of Base. Those references would intrigue the teen readers for whom the book is intended. They are nostalgic for reviewers in their early 40s!
A Vankleek Hill connection made the publication of The Scavenger Lords possible. Karen Côté of Ottawa is Sophie’s grandmother. Through her friends Carroll and Myles Carkner of Vankleek Hill, Sophie was able to connect with Review Publisher Louise Sproule, who assisted Sophie with editing and preparation for publication.
“We wouldn’t have known what to do without her,” Sophie said.
Sophie’s Mom Irene Côté was one of the test readers of the book. Sophie’s aunt, Kim Floyd, did the cover art.
Phil Côté, Sophie’s father, read the book. She said that he was really encouraging and supportive. Sophie also won the support of her 12-year-old brother Matias, who also read it.
“He couldn’t stop reading it, so he really liked it,” she said.
Sophie is open to the possibility of a sequel to The Scavenger Lords and purposely ended the story to allow for one. She is also interested in studying English or journalism in the future.