Knew I wouldn’t win the Hackmatack!

But really! Losing to a cat named Binky!

It was a little graphic novella, all of sixty odd pages, about a cat that wants to go into outer space.

Now this award is chosen by grades 4 and 5 I think.

They don’t have a young adult category, that’s why WANTING MOR was lumped in with old Binky.

I got to read my ‘nemesis’ while waiting to do that presentation in East Saint John (or was it west?), the one before that awesome presentation at Quispamsis.

It was a cute story. Reminded me of Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series and Chester. It has the same type of humour.

Unfortunately the author, Ashley Spires, couldn’t make it to the ceremony. She got ill before she boarded the plane. I really hope she’s okay. (By the way, Congratulations Ms. Spires!)

When her name was called as the winner, I smiled joyfully. And I meant it.

One of the things I looked most forward to about the whole trip was actually getting to see Halifax again.

Halifax is a world unto itself.

There’s just such an ambience around it.

Go down to the wharf and you’ll find yourself humming sailing tunes like “What do you do with a drunken sailor” or “I’s the b’y the builds the boat”.

I stayed at the Waverley Inn. It has a floor decal or was it a mosaic (can’t remember) in the lobby that says it was built or founded in 1876. That’s the year that the Battle of the Little Big Horn was fought.

There was a bronze statue of a lady with bare breasts with one arm raised, on the little curly end post of the handrail. It was the kind of handrail that just begged to be ridden down by kids.

The inn is very pretty, but I sat there in the lobby, looking over all the antiques that decorated the joint, and the chandelier and the pretty rugs and I felt cold inside.

The clerk at the front desk was typing something on the computer and I said, “This place is haunted, isn’t it?”

Without missing a beat he said, “Yup.”

The author that was with me grew pale. She said something about being worried about nightmares, and he told her not to worry. It seemed pretty obvious that her room wasn’t the problem. He wouldn’t say which rooms were.

And that left me feeling a tad apprehensive.

I’m pretty good at my nightly routine.

Of course I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe that people’s spirits get left behind to do unfinished business. But I do believe in jinns, and that each person is assigned a jinn. And perhaps some of them get released when the person they’re supposed to tempt dies, and they take on that person’s identity or something and they manifest themselves as ghosts. I don’t know. I’m only speculating. Jinns come in all kinds, good and bad.

Whatever the case I’ve had enough experiences to beware of jinns, and I can feel them in a place like that.

I’m not afraid of them. That would give them too much power. I’m just aware of them and I give them a wide berth.

They’re there, and I protect myself with Quranic chapters and prayers, that work beautifully, and they leave me alone.

I spent a nervous but uneventful night. Woke up at 4:30 am and prayed Fajr and felt completely peaceful after that. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that morning was almost at hand.

But later, in the bathroom at Pier 21, where the Hackmatack ceremony was being held, I met a lady in the bathroom who was acting very nervous.

I asked her if she was okay.

She said, “Did you feel anything at the Waverley?”

I told her it was haunted. And oddly enough she looked relieved.

She said, “I’m so glad it’s not just me! I’ve been so afraid of saying anything to people in case they think I’m crazy.”

I assured her it wasn’t just her. That I’d felt it too and she seemed so nervous, that I told her what I do to protect myself.

One of the best things you can do is say Bismillah (in God’s name) when you close a door to a house or a room. That way any jinn that has come along with you must remain outside.

I didn’t go on to tell her that before I go to sleep I also read the ‘three quls’ (the last three chapters of the Quran) and I blow on myself, and I also read Ayatul Kursi (the Verse of the Throne) it’s in the second chapter of the Quran and refers to God’s majesty and power over all things. After reading that, I blow on the corners of the room or house I’m staying in, and that is said to protect you all night till dawn, or all day till sunset, depending on when you recite it.

When I told the lady about saying Bismillah, telling her that she could just say, “In the name of God” (the translation) she made a strange comment.

She said that this reference to God was one of the things she missed having left her faith behind. She said she was the child of a preacher too. I just looked at her and said nothing.

She fluffed her hair muttering something like perhaps she could refer to some kind of cosmic spirituality or something.

Then she very nervously walked out of the bathroom.

I can’t imagine having to fend off jinns without the three quls and ayatul kursi.

At the ceremony I was escorted by a girl named Clara. Cute as a button! With blondish hair and freckles. She had stars in her eyes when she met me and held up the placard with an Ontario provincial flag stuck in the top and a picture of WANTING MOR on the front. She’d absolutely loved it!

So many other people came up to me to tell me how much they loved WANTING MOR too.

And honestly, it warmed my heart and was a great consolation prize.