New Kids On The Block 2018 with Janice Lynn Mather

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at Jen@PopGoesTheReader.com. I would love to collaborate with you!


About Janice Lynn Mather

Janice Lynn Mather is a Bahamian writer with an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has been a collector of interesting jobs: journalist, conversationalist, performance poet, and professional finger-wagger. Currently, she lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she hunches over her computer, grows vegetables, dabbles at the beach, reads in the sun, grumbles at the rain, and, most of all, writes.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

A Chat With Churchy by Janice Lynn Mather

When I’m asked on the fly what Learning To Breathe is about, I usually mutter something about assault, yoga, and taking control of your life, while I fumble around in my brain for the exact phrasing of the synopsis on the book flap. 

I’m smooth like that.

I find it as awkward to sum up a story as it is to describe someone you’ve known your whole life in three words. So much of what makes a person — and a story — are textures and details that require space. For this post, I wanted to spend some time hanging out with Churchy, who’s a bit of a different character for me, as I usually connect with and write about girls and women. I sat down with Churchy to get to know him one-on-one, and to talk about one of the things that’s special to him, and that makes him special to me.

Me: So, Churchy. I hear cooking is your thing. Who taught you?

Churchy: M-m-my Grammy.

Me: Okay…

Churchy: Y-y-you want me say more?

Me: (Nods)

Churchy: Um…sh-sh-she taught me the b-basics. How to cook rice and season meat and all that. But I took it from there, so now I like to put common ingredients together in a more interesting way. I use simple stuff because it’s cheap and I don’t have to go to the store. I like making this dish, Guava & Thyme bites — all you need is guava jam, sour or lime juice, and regular seasonings.

Me: Guava jam is cheap and simple?

Churchy: Y-yeah! My grammy makes jam every summer. I used to help her when I was in Mariner’s. Even Indy probably know how to make jam.

Me: Okay, so what if someone’s grammy doesn’t stock them with guava jam?

Churchy: Mmm…you could check the store. I know Grammy’s neighbour, her daughter went stateside and she used to buy some in the Hispanic food aisle, so you could try that, if you live away.

Me: Okay. Anything else interesting in this recipe? Any secret ingredients?

Churchy: One thing, I don’t use chicken like most people would. My mummy don’t like to clean chicken, so when I help her in the restaurant, most times that ends up being my job.

Me: Well, that sounds fun.

Churchy: Yeah. So when I have time off and I could cook whatever I like, I take a break and make something I don’t have to take skin and fat or scales off.

Churchy’s Sweet & Sticky Guava & Thyme Bites

1 pack of extra firm tofu, fresh (for a smooth texture) or frozen and thawed out (for a chewy texture)
1/3 cup guava jam 
1/4 cup fresh squeezed juice from sour orange, lime, or lemon
½ tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp salt, plus extra to taste
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup corn starch
¼ cup flour
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
oil, for pan-frying

1. Cut or break the tofu into evenly size pieces, and rub in the garlic, black pepper, and ½ tsp salt.    

2. Mix the jam and the citrus juice together and pour over the tofu. If you have time, let it marinade for 10-15 minutes, or up to a full day. If you’re in a rush, just keep going.

3. To make the coating, combine the corn starch and flour. Take out the pieces of tofu and toss in the coating mixture. Set aside the liquid from the marinade.

4. In a heavy pan, heat a little oil on medium, to pan-fry the tofu. I like to use an iron skillet. When the pan is hot, add the tofu and cook until golden, turning so all sides are done.

5. Turn the fire down to medium low and pour the rest of the marinade over it. Slide the thyme leaves off their stalks and add to the tofu. Turn the tofu carefully to allow it to caramelize on all sides.

6. Remove the tofu from the pan and enjoy. If you like, you can sprinkle a little extra salt on top.  I like it fresh from the pan, with steamed sweet potato and roasted beets.

Me: Thanks for sharing the recipe, Churchy. Anything else you’d like to add about cooking, or about this dish?

Churchy: Yeah, my advice is, make it your own. I like to use lemon juice and guava, but you might rather use tamarind and mango jam. To me, cooking is the same as anything that has love in it: everyone can do it, but you have to practice some, and take the time to find your own way.

Title Learning To Breathe
Author Janice Lynn Mather
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary
Publication Date June 26th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Indy struggles to conceal her pregnancy while searching for a place to belong in this stunning debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Amber Smith and Sara Zarr.

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules — to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof — it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.

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