Tag Archives: Family

École South Sahali interviews Gabrielle Prendergast, Author of Pandas on the Eastside

 

Pandas on the Eastside coverHow did you come up with your characters?

Usually I start with a situation or a premise and I slot in a character who is very much like me to start with. As I write I kind of carve away my own personality and carve in a new personality if that makes sense. Sometimes giving a character a name tells me a lot about them. What kind of parent named a child “Journey” in 1962? How does Journey feel about her name? When I add appearance details like hair color and age and size I get to know them more. Then I choose clothes for them. What kind of clothes do they like? Why? Most of my characters maintain some key characteristics of me. I love animals, for example. I love reading and learning.

panda

from wikipedia.org

Have you ever experienced anything like what happened to the characters?

I’m a little younger than Journey would be today, but I did live in a city in the 1970s so I remember what that was like. And I HAVE seen pandas (in a zoo). The only animals I’ve helped are my pets and occasionally a bird if it gets stunned from flying in a window.

Gabrielle PredergastHow long have you been writing for?

I started writing my first (unfinished) novel when I was about 11. I still have it!

Are the characters based on real people?

My brother-in-law, Ben thinks David is based on him and that’s pretty much true. The rest of the characters are made up.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve tried pretty much every other job and this is the only one I’m good at that doesn’t make me sad.

What difficulties did you encounter when you were writing the book and how did you solve them?

Sometimes I’m not sure what is going to happen next. Sometimes when that happens I just wait and work on something else until I get a good idea. Other times I just write any old thing and fix it later.

Harvest Writer

from flickr.com

Do you have any tips for young writers?

Write something short enough to finish. Start with poems. Then short stories. Always try to finish. Then revise your draft to see if you can make it better. Writing is rewriting.

Did you have a plan for the novel or make it up as you went along?

I made this one up. Sometimes I use a plan because it’s faster that way.

How long did it take you to write Pandas On the Eastside?

I started writing it in 2010 and sold it to my publisher in 2015. So about five years. But I was working on a bunch of other things at the same time and published four other books.

JK Rowling

from wikipedia.org

If you could have added anything else to the book, what would it have been?

I don’t know! What a good question! Maybe Journey could have met the president or something.

Who is your favourite author?

I really admire Margaret Atwood and J.K Rowling.

-Melisa Hunter, Teacher-Librarian, and students from École South Sahali, Kamloops, BC

Harmoney Interviews Sharon Jennings

Harmoney Hachey of Signal Hill Elementary felt a strong connection to Sharon Jennings’ Connecting Dots and was thrilled to get the chance to interview the author of the book she’d most like to see win this year’s Red Cedar Award for Fiction.

SJ: Thank you for your email – it made my day! Writers spend so much time alone that it is always nice to hear how our books are received by readers. I feel deeply touched that this story spoke to you and mirrored something of your own life. Maybe you should write a book!

H: Are you considering making a sequel to this book?

SJ: Before I answer your first question, I’ll explain a bit about Dots. I don’t know if you have seen the book, Home Free. Leanna tells the story about meeting Cassie when she moves in next door. By the end, she finds out that Cassie isn’t an orphan, but she still doesn’t know the whole story.

My publisher asked me for years to write about Cassie, but I just couldn’t come up with all of Cassie’s story. I knew she had a hard life, and it took me some time to piece it all together in my head. The tricky part was when Cassie and Leanna meet each other. I couldn’t repeat the same few chapters, and then I realized that no two people ever tell the same story the same way. I took liberties, and if my readers compare that chunk of both books, they’ll see that both girls embellish things a bit. Who is telling the truth?

I wrote a third book, and my publisher wasn’t too keen on it. But my agent loves it! So I changed the names and no one except you [and you!] will know that the famous actress in this story is Cassandra all grown up! Hopefully it will be published soon.

H: How long did it take you to write Connecting Dots?

SJ: I mentioned that it took me a long time to figure out Cassie’s story, but when I got started, it took me about 5 months to write it. Then a few months of editing back and forth with the publisher, and publication about a year and a half after I started writing.

H: How did you include so much detail? Is the book based on a personal experience or that of a close friend? Did you make connections to Cassie?

SJ: Both of these books are very autobiographical. I set the story when I was about the same age, and I could remember many details. I still had to research, however, to make sure that I knew what movies, songs, etc. were popular, in case I had dates mixed up. I am a cross of both Leanna and Cassie – I wanted to be a writer and an actor and I wrote plays and put them on in the backyard. I did want to marry David, and I did work in Inner Foundations as a teenager and saw the women with the Holocaust tattoo.

My father died when I was 16, so I understood what Leanna felt. I also wanted to be an orphan like Anne Shirley – my very favourite book!  I had some Irish relatives and they were as awful as the characters in the story – mean, biased – and one aunt knit me a sweater and called me a monkey because my arms were ‘too long’.

My neighbour was a nurse and gave her daughters enemas – I did not make that up! Of course I flushed my yucky spinach down the toilet.

When I give classroom visits, and talk to students about writing, I always tell people that anything that happens to you can go into a story/book. The more detail you can add, the more realistic your story will feel.

H: What made you choose to write about this topic? When in your life did you decide to write this book?

SJ: I wrote this story at the urging of my publisher, but when I got going, I really wanted to let kids know that they can survive anything. Bad things happen, but a young person can find the strength to see adult nonsense and shortcomings for what it is, and become strong. Just look at Harry Potter!

H: Is being an author your only job? How did you come to be an author?

SJ: As well as writing, I teach writing to adults who want to write for kids, I edit and evaluate manuscripts, and I do a lot of volunteer work with writers’ organizations.

I am going to Vancouver for the awards ceremony – even if I don’t win! It is important to me to meet my readers and answer even more questions. I also love to inspire others to think about writing. I wrote my first school play in grade 4 and haven’t stopped.

-Interview by Harmoney Hachey, Signal Hill Elementary

Are you coming to our Gala too?  Be sure to RSVP at redcedaraward@gmail.com

 

Our first book trailer! And it’s for…

…Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest

Eden Forbes of Victoria West Elementary created this fantastically creepy trailer.

Many thanks to Rachel Speller, Victoria West’s teacher-librarian for sending it our way.

We’d love to see your book trailer too!  Want tips on how to create your own?  Check out our handy dandy how to guide.

-Patricia

Ecole Heather Park Elementary Interviews Kenneth Oppel

Students from Ecole Heather Park Elementary in Prince George had the opportunity to interview the wonderfully talented Kenneth Oppel, author of The Nest. 

EHPE: What inspired you to write the book, The Nest?

KO: A whole bunch of things. I had a title, and I wishlist of creepy things I wanted in my story: a toy phone that allowed you to talk to a mysterious person; a knife grinding van that kept returning to your street again and again; a person called Mr Nobody – and a wasp nest that was growing a human baby.
 
 
EHPE: Does anything in The Nest relate to something you experienced?
 
KO: The biggest influence for The Nest was very personal: the birth of our third child 11 years ago. She was born with Down syndrome, and it really made me re-evaluate how we look at what normal is and what that means. Is it possible for anyone to be truly normal? Is it a certain model of behaviour we must all try to live up to? All of us have weaknesses, flaws, things that make us “less than.” It made me think about how we value people, and how we look at who’s worthy, who’s lovable. For sure I was drawing on my own experiences for the emotional core of this book, because at the beginning when you have a baby who’s “different,” there’s so much you don’t know. There’s surprise, there’s worry, there’s questioning about what her prospects were going to be.
 
I now had this notion of a baby born into a family with something that’s very worrying. And in the book, the oldest child in the family, Steve, who’s 12, starts having dreams about an angel creature who offers to fix the baby, offering him a perfect baby to swap for the original baby. Steve just wants things to go back to normal. He wants them to be safe. We’re all trying so hard to get perfect bodies and partners and lives, and I think sometimes it can lead us to make choices that aren’t beneficial to ourselves and to others. Kids really want to fit in. They want to be part of a pack, and they want to be accepted. It’s very lonely to feel like you’re outside of normal. I wanted to show that no one is really normal, and we’re better for admitting that we’re flawed.
 
EHPE: Why did you dedicate The Nest to Julia, Nathaniel and Sophia?
 
KO: They’re my three kids – they’ve actually had quite a few books dedicated to them over the years!
 
EHPE: You have written many different kinds of novels.  What genre of books do you prefer to write?
 
KO: I don’t have a favourite genre. I just write the idea that most excites me, whether it’s fantasy, or gothic thriller, or historical fiction, or contemporary fiction. With each of my books there was something about the idea or subject matter that grabbed hold of my imagination, and took my thoughts in all sorts of directions.
 
EHPE: How long does it take you to write a book?
 
KO: For a novel, between 12 to 24 months.
 
EHPE: Do you have a new book coming out soon?  Can you tell us something about it?
 
KO: Well, I just had one come out called Every Hidden Thing, about two teens who discover the first T-Rex fossil. And the next thing you’ll see from me is called Inkling – which is a big rollicking adventure with lots of humour and magic.
 
EHPE: Who was your favourite author when you were a kid?
 
KO: Roald Dahl!
 
EHPE: What are your hobbies?
 
KO: I like to travel, read, watch movies, spend time with friends, go for long walks, sail, go on train rides!
 

 

The Red Cedar Club (Everett, Charlotte, Nina, Jasmine, Breanna, Emily, Maya, Abby, Tayler, Braden, Morgan, Wynter, Trinity) and Maria Weisgarber, Teacher-Librarian, Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Prince George, BC

 

Shot in the Dark

shotinthedarkAs if being a teenager isn’t difficult enough, Micah is coping with a disability that slowly diminishes his capability to do things others take for granted.  He tries to be as normal as he possibly can:  refusing to have a guide dog believing it will limit his freedom, trying to do without his white cane as often as possible, and hiding his flare-ups in the vain hope that his disability will go away on its own.  The only place where Micah really feels in control is on the court when he plays goalball: a game designed for the visually impaired.

Young readers will relate to young Micah’s struggles: not necessarily his disability, but his anger issues, making friends, learning to be part of a team, that special relationship, and trying to become more independent of his parents.  The language and tone of the book definitely feels like a young teen is speaking to the reader.  It’s wonderful to have a book that is based locally and illustrates the pressures young people face as they juggle parental expectations, personal goals, expectations, relationships and in this case a degenerative disability.

-Reviewed by Marianne Huang