Author Interview : Charis Cotter

This time we’ve got an interview with Charis Cotter, author of The Swallow. Ms. Cotter was interviewed by the kids at Garibaldi Highlands Elementary.

Charis_CotterDear Ms. Heikoop and Red Cedar students,

Thank you for writing to me and thank you for reading The Swallow. It’s very exciting for me to be on the east coast of Canada looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and thinking about children on the west coast of Canada, so many thousands of km away, reading my book. I get lots of good reading weather in Newfoundland too, and a rainy, windy day with the fire on is the best time to read a good book.

It is a great honour for my book to be chosen for the Red Cedar Awards program. I will do my best to answer your questions, below in red font.

Dear Charis,

Thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this interview with us. We were so excited to be linked up with you! Congratulations also on having your novel, The Swallow, in the Red Cedar Book Club. We have a keen group of grades 4-6 students who are reading through the club books. We attend Garibaldi Highlands Elementary School (K-6) in Gar. Hlds which is half way in between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.. We have been having “perfect reading weather” – cold, wet and windy lately, and we are staying cozy with all of these great new books.

When you were our age, what was your favourite book? Out of your own books, which one is your favourite?

​When I was twelve, my favourite book was The Lord of the Rings. But I also loved all the Narnia books, The Secret Garden and The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery.

The Swallow is my favourite of all the books I’ve written so far. It was the most fun to write.​

What do you think makes your stories unique and what makes them such good stories?

​I think my stories are unique because I write about how children really feel and how life can be hard when you’re a kid, even if you have a regular family. I also think they’re unique because I write about ghosts as if they were really part of our world, not a fantasy.

​I hope my stories are good stories because they have lots of mysterious things happening and there’s lots of suspense. I like to keep readers wanting to find out what happens​ to the characters. I also like to think that my readers can relate to the experiences and feelings my characters have, and that makes a good story, if you can really imagine it all happening to you.

When you were young, did you and your family tell ghost stories at night? Do you still do it now?

​My family didn’t tell ghost stories, but I went to a camp and we used to lie awake at night in the dark when we were supposed​ to be asleep and tell really scary ghost stories, like the story of the Green Hand. It was fun to be scared, but we had all the other kids in the tent with us so it was deliciously scary but we thought maybe we would be saved by the other kids if the ghosts actually came. I still tell ghost stories to friends but I try not to do it too much at night because I scare myself.

​True! I’m a big chicken.

What project are you currently working on?

​I am working on two projects: one is my next novel, called The Painting, which is about a girl who can walk into paintings in Toronto and find herself in Newfoundland​. I’m just finishing that one up. I’m also starting my third novel, called The Ghost Road, which is about two cousins who find a mysterious road in Newfoundland that only they can see, and it leads them to discover a tragic curse that has been put on their family. The Painting will be published in 2017 and The Ghost Road in 2018.

What part of writing a book is the hardest for you?

​Once I get to the middle of a book, I often get stuck with the plot. It’s hard to figure out what will happen next that will lead me to the end of the book. I usually know the beginning and the end of the story, but the middle is challenging. I also have a hard time with the endings, making them just right. I rewrote the end of The Swallow five times. ​
Thanks again for your this wonderful opportunity!

​Thank you for all your thoughtful questions. I enjoyed answering them. Have a great spring and happy reading!


Thank you Ms. Cotter, Teacher-Librarian Sue Heikoop, and the kids at Garibaldi Highlands Elementary for this great interview!