Touring In: Ontario
Ideal Audience Size: 50-250
Maximum Audience Size: 250+
Grades: Grades 7-12
Special Equipment: If I could please have access to an overhead projector, that would be great. However, I can easily deliver my presentation without any equipment at all. So if a particular school or library can not accommodate this request, I can certainly modify my approach. If I was specifically asked to do a creative writing workshop, I’d once again take advantage of an overhead projector, but all I’d really need is a blackboard or whiteboard to jot down comments from the audience.
2015 Snow Willow Reader’s Choice Award Finalist
2016 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic Finalist
Jason Chabot absolutely loves getting up in front of a group of people, especially an audience of teenagers, because even before he opens his mouth, he has captured their attention – for you see, he is a very tall person. Towering at 6 feet, 7 inches, Jason always takes full advantage of creating a fun, friendly, and engaging atmosphere right from the start by challenging everyone to hazard a guess about his height. Hands shoot up into the air from students who want to offer their estimates, and it never fails that somebody assumes he must be at least 8 feet tall. When Jason reveals the truth, people are then surprised to learn he has been this height since the age of thirteen. What an incredible advantage he used to have as a basketball player in elementary school, when he could play games and slam-dunk the ball without even jumping.
During his visits to senior high and middle schools, Jason thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to not just discuss his books and explain how he became an author, but more importantly to also inspire students to pursue their interests and to put in the effort necessary to reach their goals, whatever those goals may be. He shares many humorous, relatable stories from his teenage years, whether it’s surviving embarrassing moments, struggling with school, or trying to learn how he fit in with the rest of the world. Jason describes the unexpected paths a person’s life can take, drawing on his own situation where, as a high school student, he would have never fathomed someday graduating university as an accountant, only to follow his creative endeavors to become a published author.
Before sharing excerpts from his books, Jason likes to provide details about inspirational events in his life which later show up in the passages that he reads. One particularly profound memory he describes is his trip to Egypt in 2007. While exploring the sand dunes around the pyramids, he gazed overhead and saw hundreds of plastic bags floating up high in the air currents before the debris started drifting to the ground. Garbage had been swept out of Cairo by the wind and carried over the desert, but for Jason, trash raining down from the sky was an image he’ll never forget. He was struck by the notion of humankind’s modern day impact on such a historic site. This experience ultimately had a huge influence on the setting and theme of his trilogy, and it is apparent in the first few pages of chapter one, which begins the whole series.
After Jason finishes reading from his books, he enjoys showing his audience something that the typical reader never sees – the evolution of a book cover’s design before it gets published. In the case of his first novel, BELOW, it was a fascinating progression that spanned almost two years, with a number of variations considered before settling on the concept that was originally proposed.
Besides presentations, Jason has received requests on many occasions to organize and host creative writing workshops, with invitations coming from both high schools, as well as public libraries. These workshops are always great fun and are specifically designed for those students and teenagers with a passion for writing, whether for their own enjoyment or as a future career choice. Jason’s ultimate goal is to foster a positive, dynamic, and supportive environment so that all those in attendance can gain confidence and enthusiasm for their own projects.
As a group, participants work through topics such as how to enhance the descriptions of characters, scenery, and events, yet also how to know when to cut back on wordiness. Jason discusses the importance of an inciting incident for the main characters and how it plays a crucial part in driving a story forward. He encourages students to read from their own work, and he also welcomes whatever questions they might want to ask about the creative writing process. Questions are typically wide-ranging, covering such subjects as how to handle criticism, how to find an agent, how to deal with procrastination and writer’s block, and how to combat bouts of frustration and confusion about the best way to tell a story.
One very popular exercise Jason always makes sure to present is his demonstration of a method to stimulate and strengthen a person’s ability to think creatively. Many people incorrectly assume they do not have a good imagination, but Jason shares an entertaining and enlightening technique that shows his audience how to open up their minds, all the while reinforcing the fact that creative thinking is an amazing skill that can be developed through conscientious practice.
Jason Chabot’s presentations and workshops are geared towards audiences aged 12 and up, including adults.
BEYOND [The Broken Sky Chronicles: Book 3] (HarperCollins Canada, 2016)
ABOVE [The Broken Sky Chronicles: Book 2] (HarperCollins Canada, 2015)
BELOW [The Broken Sky Chronicles: Book 1] (HarperCollins Canada, 2014)
Jason Chabot (sha-bō′) grew up in the outskirts of a small BC town called Chilliwack – a Stó:lō First Nations word meaning “quieter water up the river” – where getting only one channel on television meant that he had plenty of time to let his imagination soar to Above and Beyond, whenever he felt stuck in Below. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a business degree, Jason worked as a finance director in Vancouver for over a decade, crunching numbers by day, but writing stories during every spare minute he could find.
There are many fun facts about Jason that make him a very unique character. In his last year of elementary school, he was well over six feet tall and could easily slam dunk an eight foot basketball hoop without having to jump. He once ate two fish eyeballs as part of a local Survivor competition, and he was robbed as a bank teller after a month on the job, only to be scolded by his manager that the man probably didn’t have a gun. He has clung to the outside of a moving train, dined with a real-life princess, won trophies for both competitive ballroom dancing as well as public speaking, and in his university dormitory, he was nicknamed the “Floor Fossil”.
The seed for The Broken Sky Chronicles was first planted as a teenager when Jason worked at a tree nursery that supplied saplings to reforestation programs. He didn’t think a summer job could get any worse – the burning sunshine, the dirt, his aching back, the relentless little flies, always biting. He used to gaze up at the surrounding mountain peaks that poked above a halo of clouds and wish he could somehow, miraculously, be transported to their alpine meadows, to relax for hours while watching everyone else slave away, far below, in the afternoon heat. “Above” always seemed like the ideal place to be, although he now suspects the bugs would have been larger and definitely more ravenous.
Many other elements of The Broken Sky Chronicles were inspired by places and moments in Jason’s life. Growing up on the West Coast, he has always been captivated by nature, whether by its storms, forests, oceans, or sunsets. He is also constantly being warned that the Juan de Fuca fault line is long overdue for a horrendous earthquake so he absolutely must be prepared!
He chose to write a fantasy adventure novel for young adults because he was intrigued by all of these natural elements and how they might affect the lives of two teenagers when their physical worlds collide. While Elia has been enslaved by class and drudgery, Hokk lives in almost complete isolation, and Jason has enjoyed exploring how each character discovers unexpected strength to survive epic challenges, yet at the same time questions their perception of reality.
- Shortlisted for the 2015 Snow Willow Reader’s Choice Award
- Nominated for the 2016 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic
Praise for Jason Chabot
“Our school had the immense pleasure of hosting Jason Chabot on two occasions this past school year. Following both visits, our students were not only excited to read Jason’s book, but showed enthusiasm towards their own writing. Jason’s visit was described by one teacher as “inspirational”… Throughout his presentations, Jason was energetic and friendly. He was able to speak to the students at their level, without being condescending. Our students were entertained by Jason’s stories and genuine humour. They clearly hear his message that life’s road is neither smooth nor straight, that it is okay to not know exactly where that road is heading, and that sometimes you have to take a chance and change directions entirely. Finally, the Writers’ Workshops that Jason led were fantastic. As Jason told about his book’s journey, the students not only gained insight into the publishing process but learned a great deal about the role editing plays in good writing. Our English teachers were so impressed that they successfully implored Jason to stay an extra two hours during his second visit so that he could speak to more of their classes.”
— Laura Woodruff, Teacher-Librarian, Mt. Slesse Middle School
“Jason is a very gifted author and storyteller. He easily related to the students and was able to share stories of his own experiences that were interesting to them. It was motiviating to hear how his personal experiences and childhood memories became parts of his novel. The students were all engaged and actively listening.”
— Penny Anderson, Teacher-Librarian, Chilliwack Secondary School
“Jason is a charismatic speaker who interacted well with a middle school audience. From my observations, I would say that Jason could speak to ANY audience. He is captivating to look at (he is very, very tall, you know!) and he is wonderful to listen to. The students were extremely positive about both his presentation, which included a slide show, and the writer’s workshop.”
— Jacqui Higginbottom, Teacher-Librarian, Vedder Middle School
“I was working at the library and a teen (grade 11?) came in looking for Above. He said his high school librarian recommended Below as a possible read and once he picked it up, he couldn’t put it down. He explained that he hasn’t read a work of fiction since he was little, but something about the world [Jason] created really resonated with him. He was eager to find out what else [Jason] had written… Thanks for crafting such an appealing story that draws youth into reading.”
— Rachel Yaroshuk, Teen Services Librarian, Burnaby Public Library