Picture it: A cloudy September day in Cambridge, Ontario, 2001. 10-year-old Catherine Klug is sitting in math class with only one thing on her mind: writing stories. (What, did you think it’d be math?) After a lightning strike of inspiration that day that has stayed with her all these years, she published the first edition of ‘The Sought Six: The Sterling Cone’ in 2019, introducing a new generation to the enchanted, forested world of Pawcombe and all the adventures to be had there. Attracting readers from Vancouver to Halifax and everywhere in between, ‘The Sought Six’ is certainly making its mark—and it’s not done yet!
“People are saying this story is to Canada what Harry Potter is to the Brits,” says Dina Pugliese, formerly of Breakfast Television.
“The book has you on the edge of your seat the whole time,” writes 11-year-old Bryce. “You are always biting at the bit to see what happens next.”
“Like the Harry Potter books, the sparkle here comes from an abundance of magical ideas,” writes Kirkus Reviews: “a safe adventure packed with imagination.”
After an emotionally tumultuous pandemic, Klug is set to release the new uncut edition of the book. It features never-before-seen dialogue and scenes, as well as a sneak peek of Book #2 in the series which is coming later this year.
C.A. (Catherine) Klug is a part time author, part time librarian. Books have been a big part of her life as early as the age of 5, when after some bedtime reading she had the great epiphany that books don’t just appear out of thin air; somebody has to write them. She wrote her very first book the next morning and has never looked back. She graduated high school an Ontario Scholar, as well as snatching awards in both English and Writer’s Craft. She also studied English Language and Literature at Brock University, where she graduated with an Honours BA.
Now, Klug would love nothing more than to take her author status to the full time level, but aside from putting out a product that audiences will love, which she has arguably done, she is finding that there are other things to consider in the age of the internet. “I think it’s fair to say that you absolutely have to get online and use social media to your advantage these days,” Klug says. “People want to see who you are. They want a reason to support you. If they like you, then maybe they’ll look at what you’ve made.” Floppy-haired and baby-faced, Klug has always stood out from the crowd, but not always in particularly helpful ways. “I’m a small person, only 5’2. I’m also going to be 32 at the end of April, but I’ve got kind of a cherubic face. That all adds up to people taking one look at me and thinking I’m just some naive student or something. I have a hard time getting people to take me seriously because of it, and yes, that includes some publishing professionals I’ve met.” She shrugs her shoulders. “I definitely feel like I have to work a little harder to prove myself.”
But prove herself she did, and continues to do on her own terms. Klug’s book is a product of self-publishing, but not because she decided against the traditional route. Quite the contrary, she tried contacting traditional publishers and literary agents for over a decade, but came to the conclusion it was time to switch gears. “All my rejections—the ones that weren’t no-replies, at least—were at pains to say they liked the book, but it just wasn’t what they were looking for and to try it elsewhere,” she says. “So, sure, I felt dejected, but I also heard what they said about liking it. After a certain point, I had two choices. I could either shelve the book, or listen to my gut which was telling me, You’ve got something kids are going to love, and you MUST get it out there.”
Spoiler alert: the gut won.
It was a long shot, but wherever ‘The Sought Six: The Sterling Cone’ goes, it gains fans. When parents take a chance on this Canadian fantasy/adventure story for their children, Klug gets emails thanking her for writing a book their kids didn’t get bored of in a single chapter. When teachers have decided to share its Narnia-ish and Goonies-ish elements by reading it aloud to their students, Klug gets fan mail and invitations to visit the schools. Kids are quick to point out all the wonderful ‘Canada-isms’ throughout, including the landscape, the references, and even some familiar character descriptions which Klug confirms to have been based on beloved Canadian actors (Rachel McAdams, AJ Cook, Ryan Reynolds, and Catherine O’Hara to name a few)!
And that’s just from the limited reach she has on her own. However limited it may be, she’s not giving up. After all, the alternative is that her book might never see the light of day, which would deprive children of a book for which the ‘traditional’ stars simply never aligned, but they are adoring all the same. Klug is determined to snowball ‘The Sought Six’: to introduce as many kids as she can, as quickly as she can, to the enchanted forested world within her books and all the adventures to be had there. She also doesn’t mind teasing them about the second installment in the series, of which she has received only excitement and anticipation. “I’m not getting any younger, which is a ridiculous thing to say at my age, I know,” Klug laughs. “But it’s time to make my dreams come true, you know? If nobody’s going to help me, I’ve got to help myself. I’m not saying I won’t accept help if it’s offered, because of course I will, but for pity’s sake—if not now, when?”