Monday, October 18, 2010

What I've Been Up To -- Part I

 For the past four weeks I've been travelling around Canada and the United States, talking up my latest novel, Half Brother. It started at the Telling Tales Festival in Rockton ON, at the fabulous Westfield Village heritage site, which is a restored Victorian town, complete with theatre, train station, pharmacy and general store. It was a beautiful day, packed with kids -- who didn't realize they were in for a stealth reading by Robert Munsch -- I could hear the screams of excitement all the way from the hospitality tent! Other authors and illustrators present included Jeremy Tankard (Grumpy Bird), Edward Wallace, Paul Yee and Linda Granfield.

Next stop was Chicago (Naperville ) where the wonderful independent bookstore, Andersons was holding its 7th annual YA literature conference for over 300 teacher-librarians. I was one of the featured speakers, and sat on a couple of panels with Pam  Munoz Ryan (her new book is called The Dreamer) and Brue Balliet (whose latest is The Danger Box). I got a chance to meet up with my editor (and fellow writer) David Levithan, and meet John Green (Will Grayson Will Grayson), and Charles Benoit who's written his first YA novel called You.

After that it was back to Toronto for Word on the Street, where I read at the Scotiabank Bestsellers Tent, and promptly boarded a plane and went to Houston for four days of school visits, and then on to the Austin Teen Book Festival.

 I was on three panels with fellow YA writers (from left to right); Susane Colosanti (Something Like Fate), Jon Skovron (Struts and Frets), keynote speaker Ellen Hopkins (Fallout) and Charles Benoit (You). It was great fun to get to know all these writers (I was the token Canadian) including James Dashner, whose Maze Runner has become such a huge hit.

It was my first time in Austin and it was a very pleasant surprise-- a vibrant city filled with music bars and restaurants -- and sidewalks! And people on them! Bikes, the headquarters for Whole Foods, and a fabulous independent store called BookPeople. There is also the Congress Avenue bridge which is home to 1,5 million bats. Supposedly they all swoop up into the sky at dusk, like an image from the Apocalypse-- I'd heard all about this while researching Silverwing over a decade ago. So naturally I went down to wait on the bridge with hundreds of other hopeful bat watchers and after an hour of waiting we were rewarded with -- nothing. The bats were a no show. I blame the easy availability of fast food.

 Next stop: Calgary for Worfdest, aways a favourite of mine, organized by the inimicable Anne Green,who will be stepping down as director this year. I was paired up with fellow YA writer Deborah Kerbel (whose new book is the ghost story Lure.) Originally we were sheduled to make one presentation at the 270-seat Vertigo Playhouse, but when that sold out, they added a second event, which sold out as well. So a third was added!

Me reading a selection of the novel to the kids...

Audience held spellbound by my presentation -- or just secretly revelling in the fact they're missing Math class.

After our Calgary events, Deborah (left) and I were taken up to Banff to do one last even at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
When I got up for breakfast, Banff looked like this...

Then after a few minutes it stopped raining and looked like this...

Then it snowed violently for a little while and looked like this...

So that was Calgary-Banff Wordfest. Check back for the next stops on the tour: Victoria and the Vancouver International Writers Festival....


  1. Wish I cud be there!! :( Can't wait for the book to be released here in the UK!

  2. when are you coming to Vancouver? do i have to buy tickets?!?!?!