Friday, December 9, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Deborah Kerbel and Frieda Wishinsky

Whoa...wait a minute...two fabulous authors in one post? What's up with that?

I've spent a lot of time with Deb and Frieda over the past few weeks, since we're all part of the CANSCAIP program committee, and have come to love working with them. What better way to celebrate such great teamwork than by posting their interviews together. I'll start with Deborah (going in alphabetical order...sorry, Frieda!).

I've known Deborah Kerbel since before I was published and with each passing year I consider myself incredibly lucky to have known her. She's generous with her time, a great friend and a fabulous writer to boot. Deborah is the author of the Quizmas Books, Mackenzie, Lost and FoundGirl on the Other Side (Shortlisted by the Canadian Library Association for the 2010 YA Book of the Year’ Award ) and The Lure (Shortlisted for the 2011-2012 Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award)

We've been publishing sibs for a while now and I'm looking forward to her next novel Under The Moon which will be published by Dancing Cat Books in Spring 2012. I know it's going to be FAB!

Without further ado, here's Deborah:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?

2) What is your deepest desire?
To stay happy, fulfilled and surrounded by my family and friends until the end of days.

3) Your greatest fear?
I have three paralyzing fears - all equally great: blood tests, tomatoes, and large dogs.  Don't ask.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Any song by Lady Gaga makes me sing out loud.

6) A movie that made you cry?

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley was a huge influence. And not as much for the story itself -- but more because of the fact that Mary Shelley was just a teenager when she wrote it. Knowing this is what really gave me the courage to try writing my first book.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Oooh - hard one! I'd have to say LURE because it's my baby.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The criticism that is so inherent in this business really harshes my mellow.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I was born in a police station.

And now to introduce a versatile writer, Frieda Wishinsky. I think of her as the Lady with the Red Handbag. And that's no ordinary has years worth of ideas and stories and it goes everywhere with her! Frieda has written chapter books and novels, picture books galore and a non-fiction book. Way too many to name here so do visit her website to check them out. Many of her books have received starred reviews in the Quill & Quire and been nominated for numerous awards. Please Louise won the the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award! I personally love You're Mean, Lily Jean and The Queen's Secret.

Frieda introduced me to La Bombache where we've shared many cups of coffee and some memorable conversation. And here are her answers to my quirky questions...

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
Upbeat? Curious? (Hard to pick one word, especially about one's self.)

2) What is your deepest desire?
To live a good, healthy life with all the people I love around and to keep writing the best books I can.

3) Your greatest fear?
Being alone in the world without the people I love.

4) Your favourite colour?
Red in almost all it's shades and tones (except orange tones)

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Somewhere Over the Rainbow. (First one to pop into my head but there are more, I'm sure)

6) A movie that made you cry?
Brief Encounter

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most? 
Pride and Prejudice, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Carly in YOU'RE MEAN LILY JEAN. Maybe most like me???

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
People don't value kids books the way  I believe they should be valued. A good kids book goes to the heart of a story or theme. They are the books that stay with you forever.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)? 
 I actually can't think of a secret (Although I could make one up. Like I hate sardines. Which is true. Even the smell. PU But some people know that about me. Like my husband who loves sardines. I keep a can of room spray handy when he eats them.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Tiffin named one of the five best Books of the Year for Young People, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011, 1:21 pm
Me: Doing my routine day job and wondering when I can get back to my writing...
Blackberry pings!
Email: From my editor, Barry Jowett, telling me that The Tiffin was named as one of the five best books of the year for Young People, by the Quill & Quire.
Me: The rest of the day is shot as I float and text my son to duck out of class and go get a copy of the Q&Q now. Well no, I didn't actually do that. I told him to pick up a copy after school. I'm a good mom!

What makes a book of the year?
This is how Q&Q explains it; There's no formula for deciding. Some are critical darlings, some are word-of-mouth favourites. Some introduce us to important new voices, some represent the best work from established authors. And some are simply exceptional works we think people will be reading and talking about for years to come. Together, these 15 books made the biggest impact in 2011.

There are ten books in the adult category and five in the young people category. The other nominees in the list are:

The Qalupalik by Elisha Kilabuk/Joy Ang
My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee/Matthew Forsythe
Tilt by Alan Cumyn
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

This is what they had to say about The Tiffin:

"With her latest tale of courage, determination, and success in overcoming hardship, Mahtab Narsimhan reminds us that, sometimes, all you need to engage young readers is a really good story. The Silver Birch Award-winning author (for her debut novel, The Third Eye) transports readers into the frenetic world of the dabbawallas of her native Mumbai, who deliver lunch to white-collar workers in metal containers called tiffins. Against this backdrop we meet Kunal, who is on a quest to find his birth mother using the tiffins as a tool. It sounds fantastical, but Narsimhan's lush rendering of Mumbai is so vivid the reader can almost hear its sounds, see its sights, and smell its scents. In her starred Q&Q review, Shannon Ozirny wrote that "this world will be just as awe-inspiring to North American young people as any fantasy realm could hope to be."

Thanks Q&Q!

And for those reading this post, have you picked up your copy of The Tiffin, yet? Please do!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My experience as a Human Book

This past Saturday, Oct 22, 2011, I had the priviledge of being a Human Book at the Thorncliffe Public Library. I'd never heard of this concept before but after I agreed, out of curiosity, I had to find out more. Here's a brief History:

Living Libraries” were first launched in Copenhagen in the early 1990s. A youth organization called “Stop The Violence” was formed after a youth was stabbed and a group of young people wanted to do something to raise awareness through oneonone dialogue. The first human library was then born.
Over 30 countries around the world now hold human libraries and some public libraries even have permanent collections. Countries expected to start their own programs include Brazil, China, Columbia, Cyprus, Malaysia and South Africa.
In May 2010, Hamilton Public Library hosted its inaugural Human Library event, the first public library project in Ontario.  

To learn more about human libraries around the world, visit

This was an extremely well organized event by the staff of the library. Each of the authors invited to be a Human Book had an inspirational story to share. Over the period of four hours we all spoke to various members of the community, and were "read" for half an hour with a break of half an hour.
I personally met with students eager to hear about my writing experience and adults who asked me about the process of settling into Canada. This was where I started my journey in Canada, and it was a wonderful opportunity to pay it forward.
Here are some of my"readers."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Uma Krishnaswami

Hello All,

This weekend I'm excited to present a very special guest: Uma Krishnaswami.

Uma is a writer, teacher at Vermont College, MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and was my mentor for The Silver Anklet. My favourites from her brillaint repertoire are Naming Maya (and the poignant concept of the Two-Gift which I love!) and Monsoon (the word evokes such beautiful memories.)

Her latest book called The Grand Plan to Fix Everything was published by Atheneum, May 2011. Would that we could have such a plan! It has received starred reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly!

And here are her anwers to my crazy questions:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
===One word? How about changeable? I'm mostly quiet and introverted, but I can be selectively outgoing and social given the right company! 

2) What is your deepest desire?
===Probably world peace, but that seems unrealizable so most days I would probably settle for a clean desk.

3) Your greatest fear?
===I'll tell you a writing fear that really gets in the way. It's a fear of being unable to deliver on a promise. I suppose in some ways it relates to the fraud factor, right? The fear that so many writers have that they simply don't know enough, that someday someone's going to come along and expose them for the fakes they are. However, I tell myself I'm not alone in this: 

4) Your favourite colour?
===That changes too. Right now it's purple.

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
===I don't sing along with songs. Is that a character flaw? They do get stuck in my head sometimes but I can't think of one that's lodged there right now. 

6) A movie that made you cry?
===I'm hopeless in this--I cry easily! Deepa Mehta's film, Water, reduced me to sniveling incoherence. And most recently, I cried at the documentary, The Story of the Weeping Camel. If you haven't seen it, it's about a Mongolian camel rejecting her newborn white colt. Two young boys travel across the desert to find a healing musician. After the musician has done his work, there's a scene where they place a bridle on the colt. It resists quite a bit, and they have to force it on. Part of me flinched at that. The camera didn't waver either, from the obvious discomfort of the colt. Then the elderly man blesses the camel colt. "May your humps grow straight," he says, "may your hooves grow strong." And I realized, this was the point of the whole film. That these people would not live without those camels, and this camel would not have lived without these people trying so hard, and at such cost to themselves, to get the mother to accept it. I just melted. I'm tearing up thinking about it now.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
===Several--may I cheat and mention more than one? 
Tagore's Geetanjali, the one with the Yeats foreword--I wish I knew Bangla so I could read it in the original but even in translation it sings.
Yeats, collected works
Pride and Prejudice
Summer Lightning by P.G.Wodehouse (the preface alone is a monument to humor and goodwill!)
Alice in Wonderland
All right, that's five that I've read more than five times so I'll stop.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
===I think Dini in the novels I'm working on now, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (to be published in May 2011) and its sequel due out the year after. It's the first time I'm working with a single set of characters over more than one book and I'm coming to love this girl for her larger-than-life, eccentric view of the world!

(Mahtab's note: I am a few months late posting this interview, but hey, on the bright side, we don't have to wait to read about Dini!)
9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
===Having to buy my own health insurance.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
===Thanks to my friend and colleague Rita Williams-Garcia, and several other knitters at Vermont College residencies, I have taken up knitting! That's not the secret, as a hundred odd people saw me hauling yarn around campus in January. What no one knows is that it has become a necessity for me to knit while I'm working out knots in a story. The problem is that I can only knit rectangles and triangles. This is because I can't concentrate too much on the knitting. It needs to be a tool to help the story take shape, and if I focus on a pattern instead it just becomes a distraction. It turns out, fortunately, that you can do a lot with those two shapes so we'll see where it leads me.

Thank you, Uma. These were fun!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Vikki Vansickle

Hey Friends,
After a long hiatus, the Q&Q series is back again, and today I'd like to introduce you to Vikki Vansickle. She is the Marketing & Publicity Manager at HarperCollins Canada (one of the many hats she wears) and will be launching her latest book Love Is A Four-Letter Word tomorrow, Sept 12, 2011 at the Breakout Studio on Bayview from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Check out the fun activities planned on  FB.

This is a sequel to Words That Start with a B.

* Shortlisted for the 2011 CBA Libris Awards’ Children’s Book of the Year
* A Best Books for Kids and Teens selection, 2011
* Recommended List, IODE Violet Downey Book Award, 2011

Love her blog called Pipedreaming! Especially the line: Everything I need to know in life, I learned from children's literature.

And here are her answers to my quirky questions...or is it the other way around?

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?

2) What is your deepest desire?

3) Your greatest fear?
An office job.

4) Your favourite colour?
At the moment, hot pink.

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
A Whole New World from Disney's Aladdin

6) A movie that made you cry?
 My Girl

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
 I only have one, but I think she's a beauty: Words That Start With B
9) One thing you hate about being a writer?

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I have, in the past, read aloud to my cat.

Thanks, Vikki, and look forward to meeting you at the book launch!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

TD Book Week : Day 4 and 5 and after....

It's the end of an exciting but exhausting week and I'm back in my little cave in the basement, happy to be home with still shaking with an adrenalin rush!

Thursday, May 5th started extra early as I headed to Yellowquill School in Portage while chatting with Jackie Thornton, wife of the principal, about books and movies and Meg Ryan. Linda Szumilak awaited me with a huge smile and a well set-up gym where I presented to students of grades 7 and 8. With a carrot muffin to tide me along the way, I was driven to Portage Library to meet LaDenna Stanley. After answering the interesting and unusual (do you have an accent and why are you here?) from a bunch of curious fifth and sixth graders, I left for Brandon.

At Robin's Nest this human cargo exchanged hands and the librarian of Brandon Library, Shelley Mortenson, drove me the rest of the way. This was the first time I had an all-adult audience and had a great time sharing lots of information about the process of writing.

And then it was onward to the Greyhound Station to catch the Winnipeg Express back to the hotel. Passed the flooded banks of the river and saw tons of sandbags along the way. Quite a sight.

Friday May 6th

Started with a presentation to over a hundred students of grades 4, 5 and 6 of King Edward School and met with librarian Georgia Wells who was so committed to reading and stocking up the library. The students were all ready to start reading at the end of the presebtation and asked some super questions.

Finally ended TD Book Week with the awesome grades 4, 5 and 6 students of Principal Sparling School. Many had read The Third Eye and were very keen to start with The Silver Anklet as soon as they saw the trailer. It was a thumbs-up all the way and I received great feedback from one of the teachers, Kevin Roberts;

"Here are a few things from my kids... Taken directly off of our feedback wall when we got back to the school.

As a teacher, I was happy that you talked about, how many times it took to write and write and write. I also enjoyed the parts.
Things we liked:
The trailers
The video of you reading the book
She talked about the mythology
She gave out high fives
I liked that at the end of the meeting the people who haven't read the books, all really wanted to read them!
We liked the pictures.
Thank you very much!"

And thank you, Kevin, for this lovely feedback and for making the last of my presentations so special!.

And finally I ended the evening by having dinner with Martha Brooks, her husband Brian and her adorable labradoodle, Myra. She signed two of my favourite books from her repertoire, Mistik Lake and True Confessions of a Heartless Girl.

Students of King Edward School

With Georgia Wells

Students of Principal Sparling.

A fab group of students!

With Martha Brooks, she is even lovelier than her writing!

Some of the gifts I received, including my favourite; fruit and nut chocolate from the students of Queenston School

A pin from the Town of Morris, Manitoba.

What a ride, TD Book week has been and I am so appreciative of having had the opportunity to tour Manitoba. Thank you TD Bank and CCBC!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

TD Book Week: Day 3

Today was an exciting day. I was headed for Morris, Manitoba where the floods were supposed to be in full swing. My camera was charged, and I was all ready for the adventure.

First stop of the day was Queenston School and meeting the Ellen Donogh's students was a treat! I was once again reminded how great it is for authors to step into a school so charged with electricity and excitement about an author visit.

Large book covers of The Silver Anklet and The Deadly Conch awaited me.The students were familiar with the books and thoroughly enjoyed the book trailers and the reading of The Deadly Conch. There was a draw at the end with my book give-aways. All in all, with the brilliant introduction and closing speeches by the students, I had the time of my life!

And then it was on to Valley Regional Library in Morris, Manitoba. Praying that I would not have to swim part of the way, I got into the car with my baton handler, Claudia Schmidt. She was a wonderful retired school teacher who expertly zipped toward Morris, slowing down to let this newbie from Ontario click pictures of the floods along the way (many will be on Facebook shortly). Arrived in Morris with plenty of time to spare and had a quick lunch with Claudia and other members of the library, Ruth and Anne.

I had a small cosy group of grades 5 and 6 students from Morris School who turned up for the presentation. It went well with the inevitable question always being asked; how old were you you when you wrote the books. For the record, I was 16 when I wrote them and now I'm 19! Is it any wonder that I love the fantasy/fiction genre :)

Diane Ali, the librarian, presented me with a lovely hand-painted spoon and Ruth gave me a pin from the Town of Morris. I was so honoured, I was speechless! Headed back out in the rain and checked out the dyke and the floods (brought lots of clay to the hotel, smuggled under my shoes) and headed back to Winnipeg, passing by waters with little whitecaps, rolling fields and fat dark rain clouds hanging low in the endless sky.

Looking forward to dinner with Gail and Larry Hamilton, Jennifer Cayley and Dave and Rhea Jenkinson.

 With the students of Queenston and those giant book covers which were gorgeous!

With Ellen Donogh and Gail Hamilton.
 With the principal and students of Queenston.
 The flooded Red!
 A warm welcome at the Valley Regional Library.

With the grades 5 and 6 students of Morris School.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 2:TD Book Week

The human baton continued on, not a drop or a slip in the relay. This morning I started with an enthusiastic crowd of 150 students in the gym of the St. Emile School. A large wolf smiled down on us from a gigantic wall banner. I was introduced by a shy yet excited young girl (and I hate that I've forgotten her name!).The students loved the book trailers and the reading and as always we ran out of time with the questions. I was presented with a lovely water bottle with the St Emile logo and lots of sweets to munch on, on my way to the next school.

Rosemary Hollett, the librarian drove me over to Niakwa School and a great group of 7th and 8th graders. Interesting questions as always and shock when I narrated the story of how Lord Ganesh got his elephant head. After a delicious lunch of cottage-cheese pie (scrumptious!) and a date square prepared by Harriet
Zaidman, she handed me off to the soft-spoken but bubbly Ellen Donogh.

And then the fun really started....!!!!

The banners were up, posters were displayed and I had about ten students drop in just during set up to introduce themselves as my "biggest fans!"

All 125 students were in the library along with a few teachers and I had a blast talking to them about the trilogy, the theme, where the ideas came from and of course showing them the book trailers. This was filmed for Shaw TV by Joanne Kelly and her crew. It was also covered by Dan Lemoal, staff reporter at the Winnipeg School Division.

The students were courteous, beautifully behaved and so excited about my being there. I have to say that I might have been a tad more excited and happier with their reactions, and because they believed reading was SERIOUSLY COOL!

Finished off with some excellent questions from the students who stood up, introduced themselves and then asked the questions. We had a draw for my books and a poster and I was presented with a lovely photo frame and card.

Thank you Ellen Donogh, Rita Trautmann, and the WONDERFUL students of Luxton who made my visit so special and made me a very happy author today!

Monday, May 2, 2011

TD Book Week: Day 1

I felt like a baton in a relay;a flawless one, I must add, as Barb Edwards drove me to William Patterson School for my first visit of the day/TD week. Received a warm welcome from the principal, Diane Brandson, and then attended the assembyl in the gym.

They have a neat program going called Pennies For Polly and I got a great shot of the students pouring their pennies into a huge (empty!) water jug. After songs and announcements, I presented to a wonderfully attentive students of grades 3-6 in the gym and as always we ran out of time for questions!

And then it was on to East Selkirk Middle School to meet the Vice-Principal Terry Skarban and librarian, Donna, who was so helpful. I started the afternoon with a workshop for the Grade 6 students. They were part of a Book Review Club and so clued into what makes a book "good". They did a fabulous job with the writing exercise and were really enthusiastic about the process of writing and the feedback they got on their exercises.

And finally ended the day with a presentation to the students of grade 5. They hadn't read the book but that did nothing to deter the tons of questions which came my way. The book trailers and reading worked like a charm and students were waiting to check the books out of the libraries as soon as the visit was over. Yayy!

Back at the hotel now and time to unwind before Day 2. Here are some wonderful memories of today's visit;

Collecting Pennies for Polly, Diane Brandson with a student

Students of William Patterson School

My workshop with the budding writers of East Selkirk Middle School

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Rachna Gilmore

Hmmm, wondering what can I say about this latest guest on my blog which will adequately describe her warm, witty, intelligent, talented, fun-loving personality?

I give up. I think you better read it in her own words. Here is Rachna Gilmore, who has written everything from picture books to adult fiction. One of my favourites from her repertoire is A Screaming Kind of Day, the GG award winner in 1999!

Though I had been corresponding with Rachna for many months, I first met her in January this year when she attended OLA to promote her new book, That Boy Red. It was like discovering a kindred spirit. Here's a little bit about the book that is already garnering great reviews...

First came Anne Shirley–now meet Red MacRae

Eleven-year-old Roderick "Red" MacRae never has much spare time. It is the Depression and times are hard. When he isn’t at school, he’s helping Pa with chores on their P.E.I. farm or being nagged to do his homework by his older sister Ellen, who is also his teacher. Red tries to be responsible and help his family, but all too often he gives in to impulse – and lands himself in the midst of some hair-raising and hilarious misadventures involving runaway horses, cow dung, lost sisters, outhouses and even aeroplanes. But when Pa is seriously injured, Red must step up to the challenge to finish the tobacco caddies his father makes for credit at the local store. An episodic novel THAT BOY RED traces the coming of age of a resourceful, pig-headed young lad during a particularly difficult year, while celebrating the strength and spirit of a large, lively Canadian family living through the Depression.

And while you're browsing around, be sure to check out her blog; My Writerly Plarks. It's fun!
1) In one word, how would you describe your personality
One word? You ask a writer to restrict herself to one word? Besides, personality is contingent on circumstance, and weather...
Okay. Ahem.
Exuberant. That’s one word. But I have to say in February, when the light deprivation sets in, it’s more like Saggy. Or Trying, as in not-the-easiest-person-to-live-with and also trying hard not to be S. Otherwise, I’d also say Enthusiastic. Some would say annoyingly so. But what do they know?

2) What is your deepest desire?
Again, do I have to stick to one? Simply put, to be happy and centred, in the best sense possible. Which is a conglomeration of many factors. But one part of that is writing – writing from the place inside me that wants to create story, and not being caught up or distracted by the outcomes. Just being centred in the delight of story. In the white heat of that flow where time stands still. Oh, and to have a place by the ocean so I can write in-between long walks on the beach. Ahhh!
And then, having limitless chocolate to eat -- say a landscape of chocolate, or chocolate trees, or rivers of chocolate -- and no worries about weight gain would be pretty darn great, too.

3) Your greatest fear?
Being off centre and caught up in the illusions of life and the frenzy of life. Caught up in wasting more energy than I already do fantasizing about best sellers (mine!) etc. Snarled and knotted with needless worry. (Why bother, when there’s chocolate at hand?)

4) Your favourite colour?
Red. Not fire-engine red, but a deep, mellow red. Used to be blue. Oh, and on walls, yellow. Not shrieking, burn-your-eyes-right-outta-your-head yellow, but mellow yellow. Green’s pretty good too, in the garden...

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
"The hiiiiillllsss are aliiiiiiveeeee weeeth the sound of musiiiiiiick! WAH, wah, wah wahhhhhhh!"

6) A movie that made you cry?
Mmm. BEACHES. It’s sappy, manipulative, but the minute they start up with "Wind beneath my wings" I’m gone.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Read it squillions of time as a kid, when I lived in India, and got to know P.E.I. and love it. That book was one of the reasons I came to Canada and even lived in P.E.I.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Come on. That’s like asking which of my kids is my favourite. Although, currently, perhaps Dilly. From THE TROUBLE WITH DILLY. Only because I’m not done writing about her. But I am, as we speak, plotting new stories with other kids, who will fill the slot of fave until they are pushed out of the nest as books.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The biz side of things. The endless erosion of quiet writing time. The increasing frenzy and pressure put upon writers to promote themselves. I’m a writer, for gawdsakes. I’d rather leave the publicity to the pros, but no, I guess I have to do my share. It’s distracting. It eats up slices of my brain that would be better off dreaming up stories. On the other hand, I’m trying to see this part of the biz as creative too. Still working at it. Oh, and I also hate making squat-all.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
(Panic! Do I give away something AWFUL? Oh my gawd! Gleep.)
Ahem. How about: I love to garden? I’m indecisive?
Okay, I confess. I AM AN ALEEEEANNNN from OUTER SPACE!!!!!!!!

Rachna, your answers were a hoot! Best wishes with your writing and thanks for dropping by.
PS: I looove Aliens!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Lizann Flatt

So, back from Mumbai, a little tired but nevertheless ecstatic to have been back, and reconnected with family, friends and old haunts. Check out all my pictures on facebook.

But now to introduce the next writer in my Q&Q series, Lizann Flatt. She has written two fantastic books.

Bedtime Teeth appeared in Switching on the Moon, a poetry anthology by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, published by Candlewick Press in September 2010.

Let's  Go! The Story of getting from There to Here was chosen as the TD Grade One Giveaway book for 2009.

She also voluteers as a regional adviser for the Canada East Chapter of SCBWI.  That takes a lot of committment and time!

Friends, here's Lizann Flatt...

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?

2) What is your deepest desire?
Um.... (See above.)

3) Your greatest fear?
That would be ditto the above. I find it impossible to distill my thoughts and feelings into anything resembling a coherent answer for this type of question. But I could quip: liver.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
"It's My Life." Mostly the Talk Talk version but I also like the one by No Doubt.

6) A movie that made you cry?
Almost all of them make me cry. Seriously. It's pathetic.

7) A book you have read more than five times?
Too many books I want to read to have read any one of them 5 times, but books I've read several times include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, most of L.M. Montgomery's books, Holes by Louis Sachar, and Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Let's Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The vast and ever-changing unknown of it all.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I would rather ask the questions than answer them. And my snack habits went to hell once Miss Vickie stopped using peanut oil.

Currently, Lizann is working on manuscripts on the War of 1812, the Islamic Empire, and a picture book involving nature and numbers. If all goes well they'll be books sometime in 2012.

Lizann, it was wonderful  reading your answers. Thank you for stopping by and  good luck!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring The Maestro

Ever since I read THE MAESTRO I've always wanted to meet the author, Tim Wynne-Jones. He has written over thirty books and they are all fantastic, compelling and worthy of very close study. Tim was also my mentor at the Humber School for Writers in 2008 and I had the pleasure of working with him for six months. It was a difficult time because Tim does not mince words, but I learned more about writing in those few months than I did on my own in four years.

Wise, witty, excruciatingly funny and above all, very supportive of emerging writers, his autobiographical sketch is a must read for all TWJ fans. It starts with "When I was three, I ran away from home with a tea cosy on my head..." How can you not read on after that opening line! All his books start with the same wonderful promise and never fail to deliver.

Tim is also a faculty member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults)

Among the lovable characters he's created over the years are Rex Zero in his trilogy by the same name, Mimi Shapiro in The Uninvited, and of course, Burl Crow in the Maestro. The list of awards is too long to mention but check it out here.

Tim's latest novel, BLINK AND CAUTION, is out on March 8, 2011 and has already garnered great reviews. I can't wait to get my own copy!

Here is Tim; the maestro, my mentor and friend;

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?


2) What is your deepest desire?
To walk around the coast of England with the ocean always on my left.

3) Your greatest fear?
Anything bad happening to my children.

4) Your favourite colour?
Teal, on Wednesdays and Fridays; whatever colour turmeric is, on Sundays; and Burgundy for about an hour on Monday morning.

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Too many to mention. I grew up in a Welsh family and we all sing all the time. Right this minute I'm singing Stephen Sondheim's Finishing the Hat, but I'm only hearing it in my head.

6) A movie that made you cry?
Truly, Madly, Deeply.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
So many...but I'd have to say The House at Pooh Corner.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Impossible to say: I might be pushed into acknowledging my three favourites: Zoom at Sea, Some of the Kinder Planets, and Rex Zero and the End of the World.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
First drafts.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I'm still hoping to write one really good book.

Thank you for everything, Tim. And I have to disagree with you on answer ten!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Monica Kulling

I met Monica Kulling at OLA 2010 and it was friendship at first sight! She was signing copies of All Aboard, Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine. An excellent book which I heard Monica read at Word on The Street Toronto last fall, bells, whistles and all.

Monica has published over 26 fiction and non-fiction titles for children which includes picture books, poetry and biographies. You can read about it on her website.

Her latest book, Merci Mr. Dash from Tundra received a great review from the CM Mag.

A gifted writer with two dogs and four cats who lives in TO. Need I say on!

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?


2) What is your deepest desire?
To live pain free.

3) Your greatest fear?
Public speaking.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
I’ve always loved to sing. I used to play guitar and even entertained the thought of writing songs and following Joni Mitchell on her world tours. Oh the foolishness of youth! These days I sing whenever I hear a great oldie. Yesterday it was These Eyes by the Guess Who.

6) A movie that made you cry?
Schindler’s List.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
I was not a reader as a child, or even as an adult in my thirties. Consequently, I’m packing in a lot of reading now, but have yet to read one particular book five times. The writer who has influenced me the most is Virginia Woolf. Her daring and her skill always encourage me. She truly is a writer’s writer.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
It’s true that the story one has just finished writing shines as the most perfect thing you’ve ever written, until it becomes a book. Don’t know why that is nor how that gorgeous piece of writing morphs into something completely ordinary. So I have two favorites: the story I finished last week about a grumpy girl who finds her smile, and It’s A Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph because I love photography.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
Not making a living salary.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I’m a fan of slapstick. I know … childish. But if you’re going to slip on a banana peel or walk face-first into a clean pane of glass, what am I to do? Or course, in real life, not REEL life, I’d help you out. But watching it on film cracks me up. Every time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Shane Peacock

I had the pleasure of meeting with the creator of The Boy Sherlock Holmes, Shane Peacock, at the TD Book Awards a couple of years ago. At the time I had not read any of Shane's work. All I knew was that he was a fellow nominee for the OLA Silver Birch Award.

Once I read Eye of the Crow, I was hooked by this brilliantly written novel. The action is immediate, the plot and pacing, superb and the denouement, heartbreaking. Since then, The Boy Sherlock Holmes has solved three more cases: Death in the Air, Vanishing Girl and the most recent, The Secret Fiend. Shane is the winner of numerous awards, all of which are listed on his website.

Shane is passionate about his writing and each word, line and paragraph contains that passion. Never a dull moment! In person, he is charming, warm and very generous with his time and advice.

Here is a glimpse into the mind of this exciting writer and creator of one of my favourite characters:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?

2) What is your deepest desire?
To create great art and be a good father and husband at the same time.

3) Your greatest fear?
The death of one of my children or my wife.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."

6) A movie that made you cry?
Dead Poets Society (though I dispute this!)
7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
Oliver Twist.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
"Eye of the Crow," the first of The Boy Sherlock Holmes series, about racism, prejudice and justice.
9) One thing you hate about being a writer?

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I like malls.

Thank you, Shane! Am thoroughly enjoying THE SECRET FIEND and look forward Sherlock's next case.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Helaine Becker

Hello World...Happy New Year!

I'd like to start 2011 with the interview of a writer who is the epitome of quirky. She is also fun, vivacious, generous and a wonderful friend!

Here is Helaine Becker, a prolific writer who has won numerous awards and written a poem about panties :) I was almost ROFLMAO at one of her presentations when she recited it. Another masterpiece is called "Sleepwalker's Dilemma" from Mama Likes to Mambo. This poem is the first one I heard from her repetoire and remains my absolute favourite!

A few notable mentions within her oeuvre are the Looney Bay series, Are you Psychic, Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U. The last two are winners of the OLA Awards. Amazing books by an amazing writer. You can check out Helaine's blog too; informative and good for a giggle.

Friends, here she is;

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
Passionate. Or loud. You can choose.

2) What is your deepest desire?
You mean only one???? Ok, my deepest desire is to help make the world a better place. And to have a school named after me, like Jean Little. Wouldn’t that be awesome????

3) Your greatest fear?
Being stranded on a desert island without chocolate.

4) Your favourite colour?
Pink. Preferably mixed with every other color in the rainbow, ala tie dye. I am also very partial to turquoise, the color of the Caribbean sea.

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
I am a notorious singer alonger. My favorite for this purpose might be, Build Me Up Buttercup. Or anything by the Ramones. I love the Ramones. RAMONES!!!! That’s me screaming from the back of the bar, everytime.

6) A movie that made you cry?
The Blind Side. And the Bridge to Terabithia – I wept like a baby for hours after that one. And Up. And Toy Story 3, which I found totally absorbing and scary – I was instantly three again, while I was watching it, but then, watching the boy pack up for college? Well, my guy was leaving for his first year a few weeks later. I bawled like an idiot. My younger son, who I saw the movie with, had to keep patting me on the shoulder and telling me it would be all right.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
People who know me well know I am obsessive about To Kill A Mockingbird. I also read all the Narnia books about a gazillion times when I was a kid, along with A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, Are You there God? It’s Me Margaret, all the books by Edward Eager. I read tons as a kid, I loved reading more than just about anything back then, and still do. I guess that’s why I grew up to be a kids book writer – kids books are what I always loved best. Oh! And From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basi E. Frankweiler. I LOVE that book.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
You mean in one of my books? Reese McSkittles, from the Looney Bay All Stars series. He’s based on my son Andrew. Here’s another one: Porcupine. He’s not a kid, but I’m also really crazy about the porcupine in my new picture book A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. Werner Zimmerman drew him, and gosh is he ever the cutest critter ever! I’m thinking of getting mugs made for my family with his picture on it as Xmas presents. I’ve also written a character called Dakota in my current WIP, Trouble in the Hills. He’s a really obnoxious bad boy teenager, and I really really like him. He’s got a mouth the size of Manitoba, and a foot to fit in it that’s nearly as big.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
Having to write. It’s hard. I like coming up with the ideas, figuring it all out. But then the hard slog of sitting down and putting fingers to the keyboard. Argh! Sometimes the words come out fast and easy, but mostly it’s a struggle. And it interferes with my time to get together and talk about books with my friends.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I am nervous around grownups.

Thank you, Helaine!