Shelley Penner’s first full-length book will be published on Aug. 25. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Shelley Penner’s first full-length book will be published on Aug. 25. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Vancouver Island artist pens dystopian novel

Haven Hold by Shelley Penner is set to debut on August 25

Port Alberni’s Shelley Penner is an artist of many disciplines—drawing, painting and photography. This summer, she will be delving into the written word with her first published novel.

Penner’s futuristic novel, Haven Hold, is set to debut on Tuesday, Aug. 25 with Alberni Valley publisher RCN Media. The story is set 600 years after the collapse of civilization, in a future world where mutants are considered less than human, and fit only for slavery. With enhanced vision and hearing, protagonist Daniel has survived, despite a lifetime of rejection and betrayal. Hunted and driven into the northern wilderness, he finds security in a hidden valley where he lives a solitary life…until everything changes.

“It’s set in the future, after armageddon,” explains Penner of her novel. “It’s almost like a wild west kind of setting. But unlike most dystopian books that I’ve read, it’s more positive. It’s not this disheartening future where everything is bad.”

Haven Hold’s protagonist, Daniel, is a mutant, but Penner says he is also an empath with the ability to understand what other people are feeling.

“He tries very hard to be an honourable person, even though he’s suffered a lot of betrayal,” she said.

Penner began writing Haven Hold 30 years ago while her husband was off work.

“We needed extra income, and I decided I would try to write a story,” said Penner. “I had no idea how many words it took to write a story,” she added with a laugh.

The story ended up being far too long to publish. But Penner enjoyed the experience so much that she continued writing. She now has 15 complete manuscripts, but throughout the years she kept returning to her original story, editing and rewriting.

When she connected with RCN Media, they made the decision to split the long manuscript into three parts—a trilogy. Haven Hold is the first book in this trilogy.

Some of Penner’s literary influences include science fiction and fantasy writers Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey. But Penner is also inspired by her day-to-day life.

“Just about everything that happens in my life—it all goes into this kind of melting pot in my head,” she laughed. “It will come to me in a dream, and the next day I’m writing. I tend to like stories about people finding their place in the world.”

Penner has had short stories published with RCN Media and Marigold Productions, but Haven Hold is her first novel. It will be available online on Amazon, Indigo and other book retailers, and is now available for pre-order. Visit or for more information and an excerpt of Haven Hold.

Penner was hoping to hold some book signings in town prior to the Aug. 25 launch, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these will have to wait.

In the meantime, Penner will join Victoria poet Anne Hopkinson reading at the virtual Alberni Valley Words on Fire open mic spoken word event on Wednesday Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. Hopkinson is the chair of Planet Earth Poetry, one of the longest-running poetry events in Canada, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies. She was also shortlisted for the BC Federation of Writers Poetry Prize in 2019, and the FBCW BC and Yukon Short in 2020.

Attendees via Zoom will get to hear both Hopkinson and Penner read. Open mic speakers from the Alberni Valley and further afield can sign up prior to the event online at There are usually a handful of spaces available before the event.

For additional information about Words on Fire, see


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Shelley Penner is a Port Alberni artist and writer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Shelley Penner is a Port Alberni artist and writer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

Most Read