Get To Know the Touring Creators Part 4

Get To Know the Touring Creators Part 4

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It’s almost here! It’s nearly time for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and we’re getting to know the 30 touring authors, illustrators and storytellers better before they travel to 175 communities across Canada. You can look at part one here, part two here and part three here.

Do you have a touring creator coming to your community? Get to know them beforehand with these interviews.

Joel Sutherland
Lori Joy Smith
Rina Singh
J.Torres
Lana Button

 

Joel Sutherland


Joel A. Sutherland is the Silver Birch and Hackmatack Award-winning author of Be a Writing SuperstarHaunted Canada 4 to 7, and Summer’s End. His new series, Haunted, including The House Next Door and Kill Screen, has been praised by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. Joel’s short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including Blood Lite II & III (Pocket Books) and Cemetery Dance Magazine, alongside the likes of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. He is a two-time juror for the Bram Stoker Award, the John Spray Mystery Award, and the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy. He is also the founder of the DarkLit Fest, a literary event that has welcomed Guests of Honour Kelley Armstrong and Joy Fielding.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Find what you’re passionate about and pursue those interests. Never give up, no matter what. If you want to be a writer, read, read, read. And then read some more. And once you’ve finished writing a book or story, celebrate by reading!

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

Since I’ll be working on Haunted Canada 9, I’ll be travelling with one of the old books about Canadian ghosts that I own, doing a little research here and there when I have a free moment. And I’ll need to remember to pack a flashlight, perfect for any outdoor adventures I find myself participating in…and also perfect for to tell a scary story or two.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I’m most excited to meet students in a part of the country that is so far away from my home in Ontario. I can’t wait to visit the Yukon and I have so many great scary stories set there to share in each classroom I visit. This is such an incredible opportunity and I’m so honoured to have been selected to be one of the touring authors this year.

 

How did you get started in children’s books?

My first children’s book was Be a Writing Superstar, published by Scholastic Canada in 2010. The initial idea came from my desire to publish a collection of interviews I had conducted over the years with many of my favourite Canadian children’s authors, but the interviews alone didn’t make up a book. I’d also been running writing workshops for children at my library for many years, so I put the two together and Be a Writing Superstar was born.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

Countless teachers have told me they use the Haunted Canada series in the classroom to teach Canadian history and geography in an interesting way, using the ghost stories as a hook to captivate their students’ attention. Each province and territory is covered in the series and my editor and I do a lot of research to ensure the history is correct, so I’m delighted to hear the series has been embraced in this way. Also, each story is very short so they work quite well as a read-aloud and are also very appealing to reluctant readers.

 

Find out more about Joel Sutherland at his official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Lori Joy Smith


As a young girl, Lori’s weekly trips to the children’s library with her father sparked a love for reading and children’s books. As a teenager she lived in Italy and visited some of the most beautiful museums in Europe, which left her wanting nothing more than to make art. Now she gets to put these two loves together everyday, working as an artist and illustrator.
Lori Joy Smith lives in PEI with her husband, 2 girls, 3 cats, 1 bunny, 1 dog and 1 sheep. She loves making art, walking in the forest, watching the stars, drinking coffee, growing flowers and most of all reading to her own girls every night before they go to sleep.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Work hard. Stay positive. Be true to your heart. Don’t compare yourself or your art others . Always remember you are special and have something unique to share with the world.

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

My parents were big library users, and didn’t believe in buying books. I LOVED books and was desperate to own some. We received the newspaper every day, so I had the idea to make a book. I loved Garfield and clipped comics everyday and pasted them in a notebook. I think that was my favourite book.

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

My work is inspired by love and respect for my children. It’s also inspired by nature and that magical, peaceful happiness you feel while in it.

 

What is one random fact about yourself that might surprise people?

We just adopted an orphaned baby lamb. He is currently living in my kitchen. We’re bottle feeding him and falling more in love every day.

 

How did you get started in children’s books?

It’s a long and twisted road that has brought me to writing and illustrating Children’s Books. It all started with me selling little hand painted cards at craft shows. That grew to selling illustrations to Greeting Card companies, and then to Children’s Magazines. A Children’s Book editor saw my illustrations in a magazine and approached me to work on a book. I had always wanted to work in Children’s Books, and had had many rejections along the way. I never gave up, and just kept on doing what I loved, and it eventually led me to where I always wanted to be…

 

Find out more about Lori Joy Smith at her official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Rina Singh


Rina is an internationally published children’s author and has written many critically acclaimed books for children including A Forest of Stories, which has been translated in several languages, including Spanish and Korean. She has written a biography on the Inuit artist, Pitseolak Ashoona. Her most recent publications are Diwali, Nearly Nonsense and Guru Nanak: The First Sikh Guru, and Hindi for Heart, which she did in collaboration with the Oscar winning Indian lyricist, Gulzar.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Writing comes from someplace deep inside us. Most writers write because they have to. They invest themselves emotionally in their stories. They need to fall in love with their characters and struggle with plots and then polish them to make them the best stories they are capable of writing.

First thing is WRITE and keep writing. You become a writer by writing.

First drafts are bad. They are bad even for the most famous authors. Don’t be too hard on yourself too soon. Let your story find its way into the world. Nourish it by writing it again and again. Write as many drafts you need to. With each draft, you’ll learn more.

Have diverse interests. Have a hobby and love a lot of things. Be curious about the world around you. That’s where you will find your ideas.

Find someone to mentor you. Yes, you need encouragement to flourish but you also need someone to look at your work objectively and critically. It could be a teacher, a parent or an older writer friend.

Question yourself but don’t doubt your talent. I think a lot of people have talent but it’s the perseverance that’s missing. Perseverance will get you there.

It may sound like a cliché advice but Read! Read! Read! It’s vital to fill that well of creativity within you. By reading other books, you’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, and trigger new ideas. Read different genres – fiction, non-fiction, biographies, poetry – especially poetry. It brings lyricism to your work. And who doesn’t love that?

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. iPad (filled with ibooks). Muji pens and a notebook. Good walking shoes.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I’m excited because this is my first trip to Manitoba! I’ve lived in Canada for more than three decades and I’m sheepish to say that I never made it to Manitoba. Last summer I went to Nova Scotia for the first time and loved it. It was still Canada but so different. Now I can’t wait to see the heart of Canada and “Friendly Manitoba”! And of course, meet the wonderful children there and share my stories with them.

I’m always a little nervous when I go to a new place for the first time but I know it’ll be great.

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

Not one thing or one person. I get my inspiration from the world around me – books, art, newspapers, blogs, films, videos, Instagram, travels, photography.

I’m just a curious person. I let myself get sidetracked by random things and many of my ideas come to me as my mind is wandering and stumbling.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

Canada is such a diverse country, and we need diverse books to reflect the different cultural experiences that children have and that all children can see themselves reflected in the books. My books are diverse and they can read and learn about people from other backgrounds and cultures.

My books are also based on a lot of research for e.g. Diwali: The Festival of Lights and can be used in the classroom to teach research skills.

Two of my books – The Foolish Men of Agra and Nearly Nonsense can be used for storytelling units.

Pitseolak Ashoona is a little biography on the Inuit artist and it can be used in the classroom to teach children how to frame a biography of a great person.

My new book on Holi Colors can be used to inspire kids to write their own Color Poetry.

 

Find out more about Rina Singh at her official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

J. Torres


J. Torres is a Filipino-born Canadian comic book writer. He is perhaps best known for his run on DC Comics’ Teen Titans Go, the Eisner-nominated Alison Dare, and the Junior Library Guild/TD Summer Reading Club title Bigfoot Boy. Winner of the Shuster Award for “Outstanding Writer,” Torres has worked with characters from A (Archies) to Z (The Mighty Zodiac) and many more in between (Avatar, Batman, Ninja Scroll, Simpsons, WALL-E, Wonder Woman, Yo Gabba Gabba, and X-Men to name a few). He has also written for animation and television (including a Degrassi webisode in which “Drake” ignored the script and adlibbed his lines).

Torres was born in Manila and raised in Montreal where he was educated at McGill University (and pretty sure he took a lit class with Justin Trudeau). He is married with two sons and currently resides in a suburb of Toronto. 

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Write, write, write. Then share your writing. Show a teacher, a parent, a friend. Create a ‘zine, a mini-comic, self-published book. Post your stories online. Put yourself out there. Accept constructive criticism. Take the feedback. Learn from the reaction. Write some more. Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

My phone! It has my schedule on it, all my travel documents, maps and directions, a copy of my presentation, pictures of my kids and other things that tether me to home and, although I doubt I’ll have much time to read, I can access iBooks, Kindle, and comiXology with my phone.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I’m a bit nervous about driving to a bunch of places I’ve never been before, meeting strangers, and venturing into the unknown – but that’s also what excites me!

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

All the writers and artists and creative people around me, whose work I consume, whose work I’ve been exposed to from childhood to last week, and all those stories and art and music and performances, etc.

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

Peter Pan because of it’s sense of adventure, colourful characters, memorable setting, and I’m pretty sure how subversive it was even though I may not have quite realized at the time.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

My graphic novels have been used to encourage reluctant readers to read more, help ESL students with their English, and inspire young readers to write and draw their own stories.

 

Find out more about J.Torres at his official website or through the Book Week website here.


 

Lana Button


Lana Button is from the tiny border town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick. She grew up with a passion to perform, spending hours singing into her skipping rope handle for large crowds of imaginary people. Lana studied acting at Concordia University and got to perform in front of lots of theatergoing crowds, and on TV and film sets in Montreal and Vancouver. But when Lana returned to school to study early childhood education, she fell in love with the magic of picture books. Lana has been a contributor to national parenting and child development magazines such as Today’s Parent, Parents Canada and Child Care Exchange. But her passion is in picture books. She strives to tell self-esteem-boosting stories that give children something to cheer about!

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

I’ve been promising myself that my travelling treat will be Heather Smith’s new book EBB & FLOW, and I’m bringing Hadley Dyer’s HERE SO FAR AWAY for a re-read, because I’m still so in love with it. And I’m bringing a book with lots of blank pages to write in. My one travelling essential is my favourite earplugs because they are like magic and help me fall asleep anywhere!

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

What I am most excited about is meeting lots of children, in places I’ve never been before. Cracking open my book and reading to a carpet full of children is my absolute favourite thing. It is such an incredible treat and honour to be a part of Canadian Children’s Book Week and have the opportunity to visit so many children. The only thing I am a tiny bit nervous about is my less than stellar sense of direction. Here’s hoping my GPS has my back!

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

Childhood experience inspires my writing. My stories attempt to shine a light on situations that may go unnoticed. I hope to inspire a child, show them that they are not alone in their feelings and experiences. The most powerful inspiration for me is receiving feedback from a child, saying my story had helped them; inspired them to persevere through a difficult time. That type of feedback drives me to find that next story that will create validation and encouragement in a child’s life.

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

I didn’t have a lot of favourite books growing up, but the ones I had, I read over and over again. I had 2 TRIXIE BELDON MYSTERY books, by Julie Campbell, that I loved. Trixie was tough and imperfect. She had great friends and solved exciting mysteries. And I often borrowed BABY ISLAND, by Caddie Woodlawn from the library. It had adventure AND babies!! I’ve always been drawn to young children and this story is about 2 friends who find themselves on a desert island with 4 babies to take care of.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

I hope teachers find my read-aloud’s helpful in creating conversations with students regarding social justice, understanding and empathy in the classroom environment. My books take place in school, and the topics are about things children deal with every day (needing to speak up, dealing with ‘birthday party drama’, surviving picture day, and making it through the day when your teacher’s away!). They have been read to crowds of kindergarten students and used in intermediate classes to springboard conversations regarding bullying, mental health, self-esteem and self-regulation.

 

Find out more about Lana Button through her official website or through the Book Week website here.