Door of the day: The final one!

Door of the day: The final one!

. . . well, at least for now!

Since tonight is my book launch for The Guardians of Zoone, I’m going to end my series of doors (and details) a day today. I’ve been posting for over fifty consecutive days!

Even though there are still many doors to choose from, I opted to go with this mischievous knocker from Shanghai because its personality seems to best represent my writing!  


Thank you, everyone, for all the door love, these past two months!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Door of the day: The pondering knocker

Door of the day: The pondering knocker


Here is a grinning door knocker from the Yu Garden in Shanghai. At least, I think he’s grinning. Perhaps it’s better to say that his expression is indecipherable—because what is he pondering? I just can’t tell . . .

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25! Of course, the door knockers at the nexus of Zoone talk . . . so the one I’m posting today would fit right in!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Door of the Day: No, it doesn’t lead to dessert

Door of the Day: No, it doesn’t lead to dessert


This is a very whimsical doorway at the Yu Garden in Old Shanghai. Many of my students call it the ice-cream door when I show it to them!

Yu Garden is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in the world; we explored it one morning and were one of the first to wander through the gates that day, so we were able to experience many solemn and blissful moments.




The garden also features this magnificent dragon undulating along the crest of the wall. I spent a long time contemplating this creature!


I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

There are no ice cream doors at Zoone, but there is plenty of exotic food, including something called “snickerpops,” which many kids seem curious to try!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Door of the Day: The shop of door knockers

Door of the Day: The shop of door knockers


This is a lock on one of the many stalls in Old Shanghai, which we wandered in 2017.

Do you know what you can buy in Old Shanghai? ANYTHING. Gadgets, trinkets, baubles, and mostly watches. Me? From the shop secured by the lock above, I bought a door knocker and put it on display in my studio.





I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


A Door a Day to celebrate The Secret of Zoone

A Door a Day to celebrate The Secret of Zoone

The paperback version of my latest middle grade book, The Secret of Zoone, is being released on January 28, followed on February 25 by The Guardians of Zoone.

To celebrate, I’m posting some of my door inspirations from around the world. That’s how this book began, with me photographing pictures of doors during my travels. At first my wife used to tease me. “You never take photos of the entire thing,” she would say. “Just the doors.”

I would always reply, “That’s the part that interests me!”

I now have hundreds of photos of doors, and they all served to fuel me when it came to write the Zoone series. Zoone is the nexus of the multiverse, where a thousand doors lead to a thousand worlds, and each of the doors is designed to reflect the worlds it leads to.

Today, is one of my favourite door details—a door knocker I found in a back alley in Old Shanghai. Many of the door knockers in Zoone speak . . . I imagine this one does, too, the moment you turn your back on it.


By the way, you can find purchase and preorder links for both my Zoone books HERE


Favorite doors of Shanghai

During my trip to Shanghai, I was able to find a lot of inspiration from the gardens, the architecture, and the overall sights and sounds of the city. Most of all, I found many wonderful doors!

Students, friends, and colleagues know I have a bit of a door obsession. I photograph them, write about them, and collect door knockers. I even have a trunk that is made out of an old door.

Here are some of my favorite doors and details that I was able to find during my recent trip to storied and exotic city of Shanghai. These come from Old Shanghai, Ancient Town in Qibao and the French Confession . . . or, otherwise, just here and there throughout the city.














old shanghai - gremlin door handle.JPG


A Magical Morning in Old Shanghai


After spending a week in Korea to teach a creative writing camp, my wife Marcie and I have arrived in Shanghai for a bit of R&R.

The_Adventures_of_Tintin_-_05_-_The_Blue_Lotus.jpgThis is our first time in this city, but it’s a place I’ve long wanted to visit. I’ve associated Shanghai with adventure since I was kid, which I think is largely thanks to Hergé’s graphic novel, Tintin and the Blue Lotus . . . not to mention the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Since Shanghai has been so romanticized in my imagination, it had a lot to live up to! Marcie knows how I’m wired, so she made sure to pre-book us a hotel just a few minutes away from Old Shanghai. This is a traditional section of the city, filled with beautiful architecture, history, and culture.

We headed over to Old Shanghai mere moments after dropping our luggage off in our room. This was mid-afternoon, and the place was teeming with tourists. We found the sights, sounds, and smells intoxicating. Incessant vendors were vying for our yuan, plying us with everything from cheap knock-off watches to luxurious jade necklaces. And, of course, everything in between.  We found that we were shoulder to shoulder in many of the quaint alleyways!





The queues for the food stands were seemingly endless and there was a horde of people at the entrance to the famous Yuyuan Garden. Marcie and I looked at each other and knew at once what we needed to do: come back first thing in the morning.

We enacted our plan, arriving by 9am the following day. By comparison to our experience the previous day, we felt like we were ruling the old city. The avenues were clear, the lines absent.



We headed straight for the Yuyuan Garden and at once stepped into a magical realm. I cannot express how much we love this place. Here is a perfect marriage between nature and human architecture, a harmony that is expressed through one scenic sight after another. Every time we turned a corner, we found ourselves gasping.

In one spot, a dragon swims across the top of a stone wall. In another, a spritely creature peers from the lip of a roof tile. Turn a corner and you find yourself glimpsing a lion state through a whimsically-shaped doorway. A walkway meanders across a serene pond where giant carp tipple near the surface. Rock formations with “spy holes” grant amazing perspectives of the pagodas and pavilions.

It’s hard to put into words, and the photos also barely do it justice. But, below, are a few images from our exploration . . .

First of all, I loved all the various doorways. I do not (yet) know the symbolism of the different shapes, but they were a variety of kinds. Aesthetically, my favourite one was what I call the “ice cream” doorway.






Water is an important aspect of the garden’s balance. Many gates, bridges, and canals are featured throughout the space.







Bats are a lucky symbol in Chinese architecture. You can find them on door latches, window shutters, and roof tiles.



Throughout China (and the world, for that matter), you can find the pair of lion threshold guardians. The male has one paw raised and placed on a sphere. The female has her paw raised and placed on a cub on his back. I saw many of these on a previous trip to Beijing and there are many throughout Shanghai as well.




Below are photos of a pair of stylized lions. They look different than the traditional ones, but the key elements (the sphere and the cub) are still there. The male represents the external world; the female, the internal.



At one point during our explorations, I spotted Marcie sitting in a quaint pavilion . . . daydreaming, I suppose!


I was quite intrigued by the holes through the rocks, which afforded interesting views of the garden architecture. So many children’s books feature items such as “seeing stones”, so I kept peeking through these natural windows to contemplate the garden details.




I loved the sculptures that decorated the walls and roof tiles. I was especially enamoured with this dragon wall. You can imagine this magnificent creature oscillating along the wall. His claws are splayed, his maw is open, and below his beard is a delightful frog. This was my favourite place in the entire garden.



Here is a traditional guardian figure decorating a roof. You can find these details throughout the garden.


And, finally, here is our “selfie” in the garden, gazing into a mirror at once spot near the entrance of the garden.


Of course, it goes without saying that we highly recommend this garden. Get up early to visit Old Shanghai and enjoy a magical morning!