On October 29, I had the opportunity to attend the Teen Author Fest event at the Sunnyside branch. There, I was able to meet Allan Stratton, Kelley Powell, and Holly Bodger - the panel of incredible Canadian authors featured at the occasion.
After briefly introducing themselves, the panel shared details on the releases of their latest books for young adults. Bodger and Powell, the respective authors of 5 to 1 and The Merit Birds, both wove their novels in a foreign setting, broadening the thematic tastes of their books as well as their readers’ knowledge on distant cultures and traditions. Both of their books also focus on current social issues, bringing more attention to the problems’ causes and their impacts on society. Stratton’s newest YA novel, The Dogs, is directed towards the psychological thriller genre with a paranormal twist. Stratton’s book contrasts fast-paced suspense and heartwarming moments to satisfy any reader.
The writers proceeded to reading a sample from their books – with tremendous charisma and enthusiasm, I might add – and each spoke about their inspirations for the idea of their stories. Powell had always been fascinated by Laos’ culture – the country that her book takes place in – ever since she’d visited the country and accidentally gotten married in a traditional Lao wedding ceremony. She went on to mention how learning about a different country was useful for creativity, since everything was brand new. Bodger explained her motivation to write about the issue of marital gender selection in certain parts of the world. She chose to set her book in India because the issue bloomed there, and she was also interested in going more in depth on learning about the country. Stratton explained how his story was inspired from his own childhood, where he witnessed domestic violence in his own household. Like in the book, Stratton and his mother had also fled to a farm similar to the one used in the story.
On the subject of providing advice and tips for aspiring young authors, all three generally agreed on the same ideas. Bodger emphasized on the point of directly focusing on writing the story and to keep from being distracted by future issues (such as publishing companies and agents, which she adds) until the story is completely finished. Powell added on to Bodger’s approach and illustrates how writers must be able to write for hours at a time for maximum efficiency. Stratton simply encouraged writers to be able to have an extreme passion for literature and their story idea; he explains how authors must also be willing to commit to the time and effort of writing.
The Teen Author Fest provided all members of the audience with new perspectives on literature and writing styles. Overall, the event was extremely rewarding to not just people with a dream of possibly pursuing creative writing careers in the future, but to others interested on gathering further insight on YA novels.
** Don't miss the next Teen Author Fest evening event at the Nepean Centrepointe branch on Monday, November 16th at 7:00pm.! **
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.