Get to Know #TDBookWeek’s Teen Fiction Authors

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The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s 40th Book Week is just around the corner, coming up from May 6th to May 13th! This is immediately followed by the Forest of Reading Festival of Trees, running in London, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie from May 12th to May 19th. I love how both these events foster connection between authors and their audiences, letting kids and teens meet the people whose work they’ve loved, and teaching them about the varied process of writing.

There’s a list of nine YA/teen authors this year travelling across Canada, starting with Natasha Deen in the Northwest Territories. She’s talking to teens about the power of story format in fiction and non-fiction works, as well as how to write their own. Based on her involvement with the Retribution series with Burned and Terminate, I am sure she has valuable insight to share about engaging characters and good plot twists.

Ted Staunton will be making the rounds in the English-language tour of Quebec. Sharing anecdotes and his creative process, he aims to hook reluctant readers with his books from the different Seven series (Speed, Jump Cut and Coda), and his Orca Currents books, Power Chord and Ace’s Basement.

Ontario is hosting Jason Chabot and Gabrielle Prendergast. Chabot, known for The Broken Sky Chronicles, wants to help teens discover their own creativity and imagination while also sharing about the writing process. Prendergast, author of Audacious, Capricious and the upcoming Zero Repeat Forever, will be using her work to teach teens about verse novels through poetry exercises.

In Manitoba, Beth Goobie talks to teens about challenging issues such as rape, bullying and abuse. Author of The Pain Eater and a whole host of other books on these subjects, she will also be talking about the importance of balancing serious topics with everyday, ordinary life activities in writing.

Saskatchewan will feature Allan Cumyn in the northern region, and Erin Bow in the southern region. Cumyn will read from his books, including Tilt and Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, and will answer questions about his writing process and works. Bow plans to dive into the nitty gritty of writing a novel — exploring all the steps along the way that make it a manageable project. Each of her novels, including her Prisoners of Peace series, is meticulously researched, and she has humorous stories to tell about her methods.

Next up in British Columbia’s northern region is Melanie Florence. Her writing brings modern Indigenous affairs to a reluctant reader audience with Missing, He Who Dreams and One Night. Florence discusses the history of Indigenous people in Canada with students, delving into the long-term impact of residential schools, as well as the day-to-day issues of high suicide rates, the need for clean drinking water on reserves and the missing Indigenous women.

Last, but not least, Emil Sher is going to the Yukon. Author of Young Man With Camera, Sher uses his talents as a children’s author and a playwright to offer many presentations about the different hats he wears and the unique challenges of each project he’s worked on.

Thanks to the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week website for all the information on each author’s presentations. If you’d like more details, including who will be visiting your area during the week, visit to find out more.

I hope both authors and audiences alike have a wonderful Book Week, and, as always, I look forward to seeing the pictures and reading the stories that come from it.

—Amy Mathers

In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise funds for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. This article originally appeared in the May 2017 CCBC Educators’ Newsletter.