Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AIRBORN on "Decade's Best Books" list

I was thrilled and surprised to discover that Quill & Quire magazine has given Airborn an Honourable Mention in its list of "The Decade's Best Books."

Among the fourteen Canadian titles selected were Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, Alice Munro's Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness. The only other children's title on the list is Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner.

was also named a Best Kid's Book of the Decade by Indigo Books.

It's a great honour to be amongst such illustrious company -- and a great way to head into the New Year of writing...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Starclimber and The King's Taster on the OLA Forest of Reading List!

This isn't actually me in the photo, but it's how I feel after learning that I've been nominated in, not one, but two categories of the Ontario Library Association's fabulous Forest of Reading Awards.

There are all sorts of literary awards for children's books, but possibly the most satisfying for a writer are the readers' choice awards -- the ones where the winners are actually chosen by your real audience -- young readers -- as opposed to adults who decree which books are worthy and important for kids.

The Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Awards give young readers in Ontario the chance to vote for their favourite books from a shortlist of ten titles. And it's always fascinating, surprising (and, for a writer, eye-opening) to see which book wins.

This year I've been fortunate to be nominated in two categories. First, Starclimber has been nominated for the Red Maple Award (decided on by grade 7-8 students across Ontario.) This is the fifth time I've been nominated (Airborn and Skybreaker won in 2005 and 2006 respectively).

As well, my picture book The King's Taster, illustrated by the wonderful team of Steve Fancher and Lou Johnson, has been nominated for the Blue Spruce Award (chosen by children from kindergarten to Grade Two).

Kids will be reading all through the fall and into the spring, voting at the end of April, with the winners announced in May.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Fabulous Poster

A big thank you to Jason Loo at the Mississauga Public Library for painting this wall-sized poster that formed the backdrop for my reading at their Literary Festival this past September. I think you'll agree it's fantastic!

One of the most gratifying things about my visits to schools and librairies is seeing how much effort and enthusiasm the hosts and students put into them, and how welcoming they are to me!

Over the years I've been the lucky recipient of many fabulous bats and airships and Yetis -- in all media imaginable!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Halloween

I am one of many contributors who wrote a creepy short story for a new anthology called HALF-MINUTE HORRORS. The book is published in partnership with First Book, a nonprofit organization that puts books in the hands of children in need. There are stories by Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket and Margaret Atwood, and spooky illustrations by the likes of Brian Selznick, Lisa Brown and Adam Rex.

So, how short is my short story? Well, you can read it in thirty seconds. Those were the instructions of the book's editor, Susan Rich, who, as Lemony Snicket's editor, has a great deal of experience with horrific stories. I couldn't help noticing that some people's stories were considerably longer than thirty seconds, so I can only assume they didn't follow instructions and were suitably punished.

My story is called "In Hiding," and it involves... well, if you really want to know, check out the book.

Or come to the Toronto launch, where I'll be reading it -- or maybe just some of it, if we're short on time.

The launch is sponsored by World Literacy Canada and takes place on Halloween at 2-4pm at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fall Events

This Fall I’ll be appearing at a few events, mostly in and around Toronto, reading from my new picture book, The King’s Taster and the newly released paperback edition of Starclimber, the third book in my Airborn series.

September 13th 2009
Mississauga Literary Festival
The Living Arts Centre, Mississauga

September 27, 2009
Toronto, Queen's Park

November 7, 2009
Packaging Your Imagination
Victoria College, 73 Queen's Park Crescent East,Toronto, Ontario

November 19, 2009
River Arts Festival
Dunnville, Ontario

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The August Report

After two invigorating weeks off (see idyllic scenery on left), I'm back at work. So I wanted to answer some of the questions I've been getting recently via email and facebook.

1) What am I working on?
I'm actually just finishing up work on my new novel called Half Brother, which will be published Fall 2010 by HarperCollins (in Canada); Scholastic (in the US) and David Fickling Books (in the UK). It's the story of 14-year-old Ben Tomlin, whose psychologist parents are involved in a radical scientific experiment. They bring a newborn chimp into their house to raise as a human baby (a sort of half brother to Ben), and try to teach it sign language, so they can see if chimps are capable of learning language. I'll tell you more about the book as the publication date nears...

2) What's going on with the Airborn movie?
The quick answer: nothing. I've had many, many emails asking me about the film. When will it appear? Can they audition for it? And there is a great deal of incorrect information floating about on the internet. In 2004 Universal Pictures optioned the book for Stephen Sommers (The Mummy movies etc). The Summers Company hired screenwriters, who wrote a script which, in my opinion, bore very little resemblance to my novel. Yes, there were characters who had the names Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries (but they were much older) and yes, there were airships. But there were no cloud cats, and my entire plot had been replaced by a story involving magical urns with glowing runes which contained magical elemental powers, and mysterious priests to guard over them... I didn't like the adaptation, and apparently, Universal Pictures didn't either, because they let the option lapse. In short: no movie is being made, and the rights are now mine again, and I am going to be very picky about who I sell them to next time around. So, if you happen to know Steven Spielberg, or Peter Jackson or J.J. Abrams very well, feel free to pass along a copy of the Airborn series to them.

3) Will I be writing any more Silverwing books?
Maybe. If I did, it would probably be a continuation of Darkwing, because I see a very eventful life ahead for Dusk...

4) Will I be writing more Airborn books?
I love Matt and Kate and would hate to say good-bye to them forever. But Starclimber does leave them at a very interesting point in their lives... I might return to them, but first I have several other stories I'm going to tell first...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Airborn in Orbit

I'm thinking of having this picture framed. My book Airborn is floating -- actually floating! --in outer space beside Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk. He brought a copy with him as part of his "official flight kit" on his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

Needless to say, I'm completely thrilled by this. It's amazing to think that something I created is circling the earth in such stellar company.

I wonder if Bob Thirsk will have time to read it -- but my impression is that they keep these fellows pretty busy up there!
Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, who suggested my book to Bob Thirsk, and the Canadian Space Agency who provided this wonderful photo. And of course, thanks to Bob Thirsk himself who agreed to pack it in his luggage!