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Once Upon an Effing Time

(a novel)
Cover of Once Upon An Effing Time, a novel by Buffy Cram

In 1969, eight-year-old Elizabeth commits the first of many crimes to save her mother, Margaret. She steals the keys to a school bus called “Far Out” and they flee south of the border, in pursuit of free love and rock n’ roll.


Now, 3805 days later, having paid the price for a horrific crime, Elizabeth is let out of the Willingdon Youth Detention Centre and heads to a group home where she must come to terms with her sometimes-magical, sometimes-terrifying childhood.


Once Upon An Effing Time is a quirky, terrifying, darkly-funny romp that explores the fuzzy lines between sanity and insanity, magic and reality, love and duty. It asks the questions: how does it feel, to be on your own in a different country, with no direction home, like a rolling stone? And what exactly is the difference between love and delusion? And is it really really possible to overcome the past?

Early Reviews...

An unforgettable story about a childhood eked out on the margins and a mother-daughter relationship that swings between tenderness, brutality and betrayal. The style is vivid, hallucinatory, and utterly compelling. 

Susan Juby, author of Mindful of Murder


Suspensful circumstances, black humour, catastrophizing characters, and an irreverent attitude mark Buffy Cram's Once Upon an Effing Time, where the distrubing tension of trying to live up to goodnesss in a hard world skitters on the surface of every page. 

Yasuko Thanh, author of Mysterious Frangrance of the Yellow Mountains

Once Upon An Effing Time may not be a fairytale, but it crackles with a magic-tinged darkness and light of the best of Grimms. Its young hero is a kind of Girl, Interrupted meets Dickens's Artful Dodger by way of the tumble-down-the-rabbit-hole Alice. Her tender-tough moxie is both heartbreaking and exhilarating, just like Buffy Cram's debut novel itself. 

Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better LIving Through Plastic Explosives and The Beguiling

Compelling and vividly told, with a narrator to break your heart--and, in her brave search for belonging, to bring you hope. I loved this book.

Carrie Snyder, author of Francie's Got a Gun

A darkly beautiful, deeply intelligent and deftly crafted tale of heart-rending loss and heart-mending hope that grips, holds and lingers long.

Bobbi French, author of The Good Women of Safe Harbour

Where does the bitter magic end and the sweet real life begin in Once Upon an Effing Time? Margaret and Elizabeth will haunt your dreams as you sit in on the journey of their lives: riding an edgy line of danger, rich with the tenuous bonds of mothers and daughters, wild with the grit of staying alive. Buffy takes a broken world and makes stained glass of it, transforming the poverty of everyday life into a pilgrimage so kaleidoscopic you will want to stay on the Far Out bus, if only to keep plumbing the depths of the haunted adventures Buffy has created.

Ceilidh Michelle, author of Vagabond

Cover of Radio Belly, a collection of short fiction by Buffy Cram

A smug suburbanite becomes obsessed with the "hybrids," the wandering mob of intellectual vagrants overrunning his complacent little cul de sac, snacking on pate and reciting poetry; a father and daughter's post-apocalyptic Pacific island civilization, built of floating garbage and sustained entirely by rubber, is beginning to fray, literally, revealing something disastrously like moss beneath its smooth synthetic skin; following an appendectomy, a young woman's belly starts transmitting what sound like Russian radio signals; a young publishing assistant, demoted at work and dumped by her boyfriend, finds herself unable to control her strange new appetites.

It's the surprising, often revelatory ways in which Cram's characters navigate through these strange new landscapes that imbue these stories with complexity, grace and lustre.

Radio Belly

(a short story collection)
Darwin's Bastards, an anthology featuring award-winning Canadian novelist, Buffy Cram


“...immediacy infuses Buffy Cram’s brilliant “Large Garbage,” which, with its “new breed of homeless,” cleverly envisions an alternative to the ever-widening circle of consumption that defines us now.”




Sasha Watson- LA Times

Large Garbage

(a short story in an anthology)
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