Touring In: Saskatchewan (Southern Region)

Craft: author

Genre: YA

Ideal Audience Size: 10-50

Maximum Audience Size: 200

Grades: Grades 6-12

Special Equipment: Data projector is ideal, especially for large groups, but it is optional. Please let Erin know if one will be available.


Winner of the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Winner of the 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Presentation Information

Writing a novel – like many other big dreams – can seem impossibly daunting to students. In this presentation, Erin Bow takes readers and writers behind the curtain of writing and publishing.

The huge task of creating a novel is made up of a hundred little steps. With props and concrete examples, Erin talks about getting ideas, doing research, developing outlines, the drafting day by day by day, and then revision, editing, and publishing.

Though the process of writing might lack the drama of, say, trapeze acts, the presentation is comic and compelling. The research section, for instance, includes tales of the time Erin almost got arrested when the nurse she was interviewing about overdoses became convinced she was planning a murder. The drafting section includes how to use sticker charts (originally developed for potty training) to motivate one’s inner two-year-old. The revision section includes Erin’s total failure to revise her first novel, resulting in a series of ever-more-explicit letters from her agent and a pile of drafts that eventually reached knee height.

The point of the talk is that impossible dreams are made up of doable steps – and that it’s okay to screw up each of those doable steps. Passion and talent and sheer bloody-mindedness can see you through.

This presentation is adaptable. For high school students in writers’ craft classes it is heavy on the craft aspects and strongly interactive. For high school students in larger groups – say two to four classes together – is it less interactive, but more visual. For junior high or middle school students it is more narrative and a bit lighter. In all cases, it is meant to teach – for example, students will learn how to keep the emotional stakes of the story from becoming buried in the exposition – and to entertain, and ultimately to encourage students to pursue their own passions.

Book List

The Swan Riders (McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2016)

The Scorpion Rules (McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2015)

Sorrow’s Knot (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2013)

Plain Kate (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2010)


Erin Bow writes fantasy and science fiction novels for teens. She’s earned a fistful of major awards, including the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her debut, Plain Kate, and the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year award for her recent hit, The Scorpion Rules. She’s also a well-published poet, with a CBC Literary Award to her name.

In her personal life, Erin is deceptively normal and entirely nerdy, fond of cooking, power tools, and Doctor Who. In high school she captained the debate team, founded the math club, and didn’t date much. She also began to write (very terrible) poetry: her first publication was a poem in the school newspaper. Her first literary prize was a free pizza.

At university, Erin found herself torn between physics and English, and picked physics on the grounds that teaching oneself to write is possible, but teaching oneself about eigenvectors is a tall order. As a student of high energy particle physics, she worked at the CERN supercollider and Los Alamos Labs.

Erin left the study of physics behind during graduate school and took a sharp left turn into writing (much better) poetry and tackling such challenging professional writing gigs as creating hamburger flipping manuals. More recently, she’s made a much more interesting living as a science writer, notably for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

In the fall of 2016, Erin became that rarest of birds, a full-time novelist.

As a presenter, Erin is funny, quick-witted, and comfortable with students. In her books and in person, Erin gives students emotional honesty and intellectual challenge, engaging them without pandering or patronizing.

She once made a room full of high school students cry – but as they say in the fine print, these results may not be typical.

Facebook Fan Page | Twitter: @erinbowbooks | Blog | Tumblr


Plain Kate

  • Winner of the 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2011 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children
  • Shortlisted for 2011 Sunburst Award (for science fiction or fantasy published in Canada)
  • Shortlisted for the 2011 Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Shortlisted for a 2011 Cybil in Young Adult Fantasy

Sorrow’s Knot

  • Winner of the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 CBC Bookie Awards, Best Canadian Young Adult Book
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award for best Canadian children’s book
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Sunburst Award for science fiction or fantasy published in Canada

The Scorpion Rules

  • Winner of the 2016 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Young Adults
  • Currently shortlisted for the 2016 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Currently shortlisted for the 2016 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
  • Currently shortlisted for a 2016 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award

Praise for Erin Bow

“I’ve had many novelists visit my classes over the years, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen one connect so well with a teenaged audience.  Erin’s creativity, enthusiasm and sense of humour really appealed to my students; I believe that hearing her made some of them believe they too could pursue a career in writing”.
—A.J. Blauer, Acting Head of Literary Arts, Canterbury High School (Ottawa, Ontario)

“Erin is such a great presenter that we’ve flown her out to our Word On The Street festival twice! Her readings mesmerized the teen audience – she picked just the right parts of her books to suck them in and make them desperate to read the rest of the story. She’s great with questions and made everyone in the audience so happy they got to meet her.”
—Paige McGeorge, Teenbrarian, Lethbridge Public Library (Lethbridge Alberta)

“Erin’s natural storytelling abilities transferred into a warm and personable rapport with the students, while discussing the writing process and the trials and triumphs of being a Canadian writer.”
—Fiona Ross, Teacher Librarian, Peel District School Board (Brampton, Ontario)

“After a successful Teen Summer Reading Program, we wanted to really WOW our Teens with a finale event that matched their level of enthusiasm throughout the summer. Erin came to our finale ready and willing to impart her vast knowledge about authorship in Canada to a keen group who are interested in pursuing careers of this nature. Erin was exciting, relatable, and personable to our teens, some of whom left truly inspired.”
—Jade Noble, Young Adult Services Librarian, Shelburne Public Library (Shelburn, Ontario)

“Erin Bow is engaging and dynamic, able to speak to all ages. She encourages and inspires both future writers and readers”
—Jenna and Phyllis,  Southgate Ruth Hargrave Memorial Library (Southgate, Ontario)