Touring In: ALBERTA
Genre: Picture Books, Early Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Young Adult, Hi-Lo, Teen Non-Fiction
Ideal Audience Size: For Grades 1-3, Robin prefers small groups (single class). For Grades 4-12, 60-120 students are ideal and Robin prefers no more than a three-grade level spread.
Maximum Audience Size: For Grades 1-3, 30 students. For Grades 4-12, maximum of 400 students and Robin prefers no more than a three-grade level spread.
Grades: Grades 1-12
Special Equipment: Projector and a screen. Robin will bring her own laptop and will also have her slides on a memory stick and can use a school laptop if that is preferable.
Cost for School Readings Program: $200.00, plus 5% GST per school presentation
Cost for Public Readings Program: $250.00, plus 5% GST per public presentation
I have presentations available for grades 3-12 and I tailor my talks to the interests and age of the group. I usually build a new presentation around my latest book, and I also offer some more general presentations about the creative process. All my talks are interactive and engaging, with opportunities for questions and discussion. I use PowerPoint to share images and photographs, structure my session, and appeal to the more visual learners. My talks are about an hour long and suitable for any size group. My creative writing workshops are best for smaller groups and I prefer to have a little more time if possible. Here are some of my presentations:
Kid Activists (Grades 3-8)
This presentation will focus on writing and activism and will be about 45-60 minutes long, including time for questions. I will use PowerPoint slides to share photos of myself as a kid, art from the Kid Activists book, quotes from activists, etc. Key points I will emphasize will be the importance of activism being grounded in hope- in the belief that change is possible and worth fighting for; and the idea that there are many different ways to be an activist. I will talk about my writing process, share some stories from the book, discuss how writing itself can be a form of activism, and encourage kids to think about what issues they care about and how they might use their own voices to take action on those issues. The talk touches on civil rights, labor rights, women’s rights, environmental issues and more.
Pride and Activism (Grades 4-8)
This talk focusses on the history of activism in the LGBTQ+ community, on the ongoing struggles, and on how young people are carrying this work forward into the future. It draws on my book Kid Activists and also includes some images and stories from Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. It also touches on my picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story, which tells the story of two gay refugees and was written to raise both awareness and funds for organizations supporting LGBTQ+ people who are facing persecution in many countries around the world.
Collaborative Writing (Grades 8-12)
I have co-written two novels for teens—When You Get the Chance, with Tom Ryan, and Blood on the Beach, with Sarah Harvey. Collaborative writing offers both rewards and challenges, and the chemistry between writers and the harmony of two voices can lead to a writing process that is fun, energetic and surprising. This creative writing workshop for teens uses pairs exercise to explore collaborative writing and is best suited to small groups (up to 50 students).
My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights (Grades 8-12)
In North America, one in four women has an abortion, but because there is still a stigma associated with this, many women don’t talk about their experiences. People who think abortion is wrong often try to have it made illegal—but before abortion was legalized, many women in Canada and the US died or were terribly injured by unsafe abortions. Globally, tens of thousands of women still die from unsafe abortions every year. In this engaging and interactive presentation, Robin draws on her new non-fiction book, My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights. She talks about the history of the abortion-rights movement and the challenges still faced by people needing abortions today. Using images and anecdotes from the book, Robin will share the stories of activists fighting for reproductive rights—like the women who drove across Canada in the 1970 Abortion Caravan. The feminist group in Chicago who taught themselves to do safe abortions during the illegal abortion era. The women who use a sailboat to provide abortions in international waters. Young reproductive rights advocates working for change in Madagascar, Turkey, Nigeria, Venezuela and more. The long fight for abortion rights is being picked up by a new generation of courageous, creative and passionate activists. This is their story.
Writing For Teens: Fiction and Non-Fiction (Grades 8-12)
Fiction and nonfiction are different in many ways, but they also have a lot in common. Both require research, both need the right narrative voice, both can be driven by conflict, and both involve telling stories about people and what matters to them. Robin will talk about her writing process and approach for both teen novels and teen non-fiction, and will share some of what she learned writing her newest book, My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights, including stories of young reproductive rights activists from all around the world.
Writing For Kids: Fiction and Non-Fiction (Grades 3-7)
Fiction is all about making things up. Non-fiction is…well, the opposite! But both are filled with stories, conflict and characters. Robin will explain how she writes non-fiction, and share some of the stories from her book Kid Activists. She will also explain how she writes her novels– and give participants a chance to develop their own ideas and stories!
Becoming a Writer: Finding & Telling Your Stories (Grades 4-6; 7-9; 10-12)
In this engaging presentation, Robin shares how she became a writer, where her ideas come from and what her creative process looks like. She uses examples from different books depending on the age group she is presenting to. She also discusses some of the challenges she experiences and share tips for young writers. She also facilitates a brainstorming exercise to illustrate how to develop a story through an understanding of its characters. Students will work together to develop a character, explore possibilities for conflict, and uncover the myriad of story possibilities that this leads to. In this session, Robin shares her passion for the writing process and inspires students to pursue their own creative interests. For older students, this presentation will also address the business of publishing and the editing process.
Creative Writing Workshops (Grades 6-12; maximum 50 students)
A hands-on creative writing workshop for small groups. Participants will explore how they can use their own experiences and curiosity to create compelling writing and convincing characters; discuss strategies for finding story ideas; develop their skills at creating complex and believable characters; and discover how well-developed characters can help uncover new story possibilities.
The Art of Revision (Grades 10-12)
According to Roald Dahl, “Good writing is essentially rewriting.” Nabakov agreed, saying, “My pencils outlast their erasers.” And yet this essential part of the writing process is often oversimplified and reduced to proof-reading– or over-complicated and made mystifying. In this interactive and engaging presentation for high school students, Robin draws on her experience revising her own books as well as her role as an editor of middle grade and young adult novels. Students learn how to take a rough first draft and make it shine.
When You Get the Chance, co-written with Tom Ryan (Running Press Kids, 2020)
Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle (Orca Book Publishers, 2020) (an expanded and updated edition of Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community)
Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change (Quirk Books, 2019)
Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story (Rebel Mountain Press, 2019)
My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)
Pride Colors (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)
Blood on the Beach, co-written with Sarah N. Harvey (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)
Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)
Under Threat (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)
The Summer We Saved the Bees (Orca Book Publishers, 2015)
The World Without Us (Orca Book Publishers, 2015)
Attitude (Orca Book Publishers, 2013)
Record Breaker (Orca Book Publishers, 2013)
Hummingbird Heart (Orca Book Publishers, 2012)
Damage (Orca Book Publishers, 2012)
Escape Velocity (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Ben the Inventor (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Outback (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Liars and Fools (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)
Ben’s Robot (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)
Inferno (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)
In the Woods (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)
A Thousand Shades of Blue (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Big Guy (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Impossible Things (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Dead in the Water (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Out of Order (Orca Book Publishers, 2007)
I was born in Yorkshire and grew up in England, Ontario and Australia. I was always an avid reader who loved stories and spent a lot of time in my imagination, but I didn’t start writing until I was in my thirties. I studied philosophy at McMaster University and then did a Master’s in clinical social work. I spent ten years working as a counsellor and teaching social work courses to university students before I began writing while on maternity leave in 2005. My first book was published two years later, and since then I’ve published more than twenty-five more. I never did go back to my old job, but I am still passionate about social justice issues and I still enjoy teaching. These days, I write, facilitate creative writing classes and workshops, and visit schools and libraries. I also spend a lot of time working to sponsor refugees to come to Canada and to support them after they arrive. I live on Vancouver Island with my partner and our teenage son.
I write for a wide range of ages and interests. I have written board books and picture books, fiction and non-fiction for middle-grade readers, and fiction and non-fiction for teens and young adults. I love teaching, and I love working with young people. My background as a counsellor and university instructor gave me a great deal of experience presenting to groups, leading and facilitating discussion, responding to questions, and encouraging people to believe in themselves and take creative risks. Discovering that being an author would give me new opportunities to speak with kids and teens about my favorite subjects (books, reading, writing, and whatever interesting topic I am currently writing about!) was unexpected and wonderful, and I have taken full advantage of any it, visiting schools and libraries and community groups whenever I can. I find I always learn something from these experiences, and gain renewed enthusiasm for my own writing—and I do my best to leave students similarly inspired and energized.