“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
This Monday, I once again had the chance to attend a Teen Author Fest event, this time at the Nepean Centrepointe branch. Here, authors Megan Crewe (A Sky Unbroken - Earth and Sky Trilogy Book 3), Natale Ghent (Dark Company), and Morgan Rhodes (A Book of Spirits and Thieves) took the time to discuss their upcoming releases and to provide useful tips for beginners in the writing field.
All three of the authors’ newest novels all share being set in a fantasy world/universe. When asked about how the idea of these different worlds and characters were created, everyone had their own answer. Rhodes immediately asserted that the characters were thought of first. She described how the setting became a kind of “game board,” where the world was literally constructed revolving around her characters. The personality of the characters also inspired different aspects of the fictional setting, being how she brought mythology into A Book of Spirits and Thieves’ universe based on the protagonists of the novel. Ghent believed that the characters and the setting all developed at once. Each part was significant in their own way, helping one another develop more as the story progressed. Crewe compared the developments of her books as a big cycle. Depending on the story, the author would think up of strands of information and connect it to another piece. The overall outcome would be a web of how all the details were interconnected, giving a basic outline of the plot.
Inspiration has always been known to be a topic of interest among audience members, so it was no surprise when the authors were asked about such. Each writer indicated how they had all started shaping stories from a young age. Crewe began making stories from the early ages of 2-3, having her mother write the words out for her and drawing pictures on the pages to create storybooks. Ghent had always had a passion for storytelling, putting on shows for her family with puppets. Her brother later taught her how to write, and with a tremendous amount of support from those closest to her, she began her journey to her career. Rhodes had a similar backstory to Ghent’s; she remembered vividly of the post-dinner shows she’d direct and have her sister act out every evening, which she’d named “The Funny Show.” Though she now immensely enjoys writing, Rhodes admits that she’d first started out in the industry for the media-portrayed simple lifestyle of an author, “living in an apartment in New York,” as she’d recalled.
The panel closed with the final question that many had awaited, “What feedback do you have for aspiring authors?” The answer was almost unanimous among the three. Reading tons and tons of books from DIFFERENT genres was highly stressed. Crewe specifically adds how this would broaden your imagination and give you a perspective of different styles of writing, like “research.” Having the courage to take criticism from not only others, but yourself, on your work also had a big impact on improving. Writers often take suggestions from others poorly, usually due to how personal it feels. Ghent notes that it is crucial to “never deem anything sacred” when writing the first draft to avoid this feeling, and to be able to share different perspectives on your work. Rhodes declared the importance of being passionate about literature and writing. It can be difficult finding motivation to continue with a long-term project, which is why having a strong eagerness for the specific topic is significant for producing well-written books. Rhodes also advised others to keep a notebook with them at all times, including having it by your side in bed, since it was nearly impossible to tell when something could trigger an idea for a story.
After the Q&A, the audience was granted the opportunity to purchase the authors' books from Kaleidoscope Kids' Books and have their books personally signed by the authors themselves.
Again, this Teen Author Fest event offered an enlightening experience for all who attended, allowing everyone to walk away with exclusive details on the authors’ latest books as well as more insight on what it really takes to pursue a writing career.
Ottawa Public Library’s Teen Bloggers in Residence are fantastic teen volunteer writers from across the city. They blog about their favourite teen reads and authors, and get writing assignments to cover special teen events happening at the library. Their residency rotates throughout the year. Call-outs for upcoming terms are made through the Teen Blog in May/June, September/October and January/February.