Wednesday 13 March 2019

Our Interview with Yolanda Ridge

Image result for hudson pickle ridge 
Was the fire based on a true story? If it was, did the fire hurt anybody?

The fire was not based on one true story but a combination of two. When I was in University, a friend really did fall asleep with the kettle on. No one could believe she slept through both the kettle whistle and the fire alarm. Luckily, the people who lived upstairs heard it and managed to wake her up. No one was hurt and there wasn’t even a fire - the stove was turned off in time to prevent it. But when my mom was young, her house did burn down. Again, no one was hurt but her family lost everything. Because of that, my mom’s always been very worried about house fires. It’s something I thought about a lot during the last few summers with all the forest fires in BC - especially since I live on an acreage outside of Rossland surrounded by trees (and no fire hydrants).

What inspired you to write the story?

When I worked as a genetic counsellor, I had to tell an 18-year-old aspiring firefighter that based on the result of his genetic test, firefighting was the one profession he shouldn’t pursue. As someone who hates being told I can’t do something, this experience still affects me to this day. 

Do you have asthma or do you know someone that has asthma?

No, I don’t have asthma. But my best friend growing up had asthma. And my son had it when he was younger.

What inspired you to become a writer?

My sons inspired me to write fiction for kids. (I have twins who just turned 13.) They had health problems when they were born so I had to quit my job. When I got short breaks from taking care of them, I was too tired to read. So I would escape into stories I wrote for myself. And since I was surrounded by young people, the heroes of my stories were young people and before I knew it - I was writing picture books and middle grade fiction.

How old were you when you first started writing?

I think I have always been a writer. When I was in elementary school, my family moved around a lot and I was always writing letters to my friends. As a teenager, I got into journal and poetry writing. Even when I became a scientist, I was still drawn to writing. I wrote scientific articles, informational pamphlets, and educational material for doctors - whenever something needed to be written, I would always volunteer. But I didn’t start writing stories until I was 33-years-old. 

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?

It usually takes me about six months to write a complete manuscript. But it takes much longer for that manuscript to become a book. After I finished writing Inside Hudson Pickle, I spent another six months making changes based on feedback from my writing friends. Then it took me another six months to find an agent who could sell the book to a publisher. Once the publisher bought it, I spent another six months making more changes with the editors that work for them. By the time it was actually published into a book, at least two years had passed since I first started working on it. 

What’s your favourite book of all the books you’ve written?

My favourite book of all the ones I’ve written hasn’t actually been published yet. It’s called Reasons to Tell and it’s about a competitive swimmer who has epilepsy. I haven’t sold it to a publisher yet but I’m hoping I will soon so you can all read it!

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read?

I fall in love with books easily so my favourite is usually the last one I read! I just finished Fadeaway by Maura Ellen Stokes. Now I’m starting Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts. I don’t always read sports books but there’s been some good ones about basketball published recently!

Do you have any other careers besides being an author?

I used to be a genetic counsellor, like the one Hudson and his family meets with. But now I just write and drive my boys around - which involves carrying my laptop with me to many hockey practices and libraries. (I’m actually writing this email at the ice rink!)

Is Hudson based on a person you know?

Hudson is the combination of a few different people I know. One of my friend’s sons did get cut from AAA hockey after a growth spurt. It was really hard on him because he didn’t know what else to do with himself. A lot of people I know - including one of my twins - sees the world through sport just like Hudson. I can relate to this because I spent a lot of my school years playing sports. And when I got cut from a provincial volleyball team, I put all my energy into basketball. So I guess I would saw that Hudson is based on many people I know - including myself!

Friday 16 March 2018

Our interview with Kallie George

1. What got you so interested in magical animals or fantasy?

I have always loved reading fantasy books. My favorite series as a child 
included the Narnia series (by CS Lewis) and the OZ series (by L. Frank Baum) 
and, in high school, the Harry Potter books. Magical animals often feature 
prominently in all of these series.

2. How did you think up the conflict between Oliver and Clover?

I always like writing about conflicts that are easily understandable and relatable. 
Clover and Oliver are both jealous of each other, and I think almost everyone—
kids  and adults—feel jealous of another person at one point or another. It’s how 
we work through these feelings that’s important. Comparing ourselves to others is 
so impossible and unfair. Rather, we should celebrate our individual strengths 
and differences.

3. How did you come up with the names for the potions?

Potion names are tricky and fun! I usually try to think about the purpose of the
 potion or what it’s made from and the name comes from there.

4. Do you have a love for animals like Clover does?

Yes, I most certainly do! But, like Clover, I always thought I might be unlucky 
with . There was a terrible incident when I was seven years old: I came home 
one day to find my pet fish lying on the bottom of his tank. I poked him with a 
pencil and he didn’t move. I was sure he was dead. I had read/heard somewhere 
that if your fish is dead you take it to the toilet and flush it away. I was crying and 
I took my fish to the toilet and I flushed. Then, just as the water was spinning 
down, my fish began swimming! It wasn’t dead after all—just sleeping. I didn’t 
know what to do! Should I stick my hands in the toilet? Before I could make a 
decision, my fish was sucked down the drain. On the one hand, I was happy my 
fish was actually alive. On the other hand—I was so upset that I had flushed my 
LIVE fish down the toilet. It was around then that most of my stories began featuring 
animals because I felt like maybe I was too unlucky to be with animals, but I could 
certainly write about them.Now, I still don’t have a pet, but I do really want to get 
a pet puppy soon!

5. How did you come up with such unique names for the different species of magical

Some of the magical animals in my series are from traditional myths and stories 
of magical animals (like unicorns and dragons). Other magical animals in my stories
I have created myself, like the fairy horses. I love coming up with new magical 
creatures. Naming, though, can be tricky. I often have a long list of potential names 
for the animals that I keep adding to, until eventually one of the names feels just 

6. What did you work at before becoming an author?

I went to school for a long time (I did my Masters degree in Children’s Literature). 
I was a nanny for a while and I also worked at a tea shop. Mostly, I have worked 
as an editor for picture books and as a teacher of creative writing to both children 
and adults.

7. Who are your favourite authors?

I have SO many! I already mentioned CS Lewis, Baum, and JK Rowling. But 
I also adore Kate DiCamillo, Roald Dahl, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jeanne Birdsall… 
the list goes on and on!

8. Do you have any tips for young writers?

Write about what you love! Don’t get too hung up on making sure your spelling
and grammar is correct (this is important but you can always edit your work), 
but rather focus on finding ideas that inspire you and describe everything as best 
you can. Share your writing with others. Make sure you have fun! If you are 
very interested in becoming an author, start looking for writing contests where you 
can submit your work, or youth or teen magazines that publish young people’s work.

9. What do you do when you get stuck when you are writing?

I love to go for hikes in the woods. That’s where I get a lot of my inspiration. And 
it’s great because in beautiful BC there are so many trails and mountains to choose 
from. I also like to ask my friends and my family for help—I share with them my 
story and what I’m stuck on, and often they provide an idea that gets me unstuck. 
Sometimes they don’t have an idea, but just talking about the story gives me an idea! 
It is very helpful to share your stories!

10. How long have you been writing for?

I wrote my very first book when I was five years old—so you could say I’ve been 
writing my whole life. But, my first published book came out when I was in my early
twenties. So I have been professionally publishing and writing for just over twelve 
years now.

11. Are you working on another novel in this series?

I’m actually done writing all the books in the Magical Animal Adoption Agency 
series (there’s three altogether), but there’s a new chapter book series that I’ve been 
working called Heartwood Hotel. It’s about a hotel for small animals, deep in the 
woods. There four books in total for that one, and the first three books are out!

Monday 12 March 2018

Our interview with Gabrielle Prendergast

How did you come up with your characters?

Usually I start with a situation or a premise and I slot in a character who is very much like me to start with. As I write I kind of carve away my own personality and carve in a new personality if that makes sense. Sometimes giving a character a name tells me a lot about them. What kind of parent named a child "Journey" in 1962? How does Journey feel about her name? When I add appearance details like hair color and age and size I get to know them more. Then I choose clothes for them. What kind of clothes do they like? Why? Most of my characters maintain some key characteristics of me. I love animals, for example. I love reading and learning.

Have you ever experienced anything like what happened to the characters?

I'm a little younger than Journey would be today, but I did live in a city in the 1970s so I remember what that was like. And I HAVE seen pandas (in a zoo). The only animals I've helped are my pets and occasionally a bird if it gets stunned from flying in a window.

How long have you been writing for?

I started writing my first (unfinished) novel when I was about 11. I still have it!

Are the characters based on real people?

My brother-in-law, Ben thinks David is based on him and that's pretty much true. The rest of the characters are made up.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I've tried pretty much every other job and this is the only one I'm good at that doesn't make me sad.

What difficulties did you encounter when you were writing the book and how did you solve them?

Sometimes I'm not sure what is going to happen next. Sometimes when that happens I just wait and work on something else until I get a good idea. Other times I just write any old thing and fix it later.

Do you have any tips for young writers?

Write something short enough to finish. Start with poems. Then short stories. Always try to finish. Then revise your draft to see if you can make it better. Writing is rewriting.

Did you have a plan for the novel or make it up as you went along?

I made this one up. Sometimes I use a plan because it's faster that way.

How long did it take you to write Pandas On the Eastside?

I started writing it in 2010 and sold it to my publisher in 2015. So about five years. But I was working on a bunch of other things at the same time and published four other books.

If you could have added anything else to the book, what would it have been?

I don't know! What a good question! Maybe Journey could have met the president or something.

Who is your favourite author?

I really admire Margaret Atwood and J.K Rowling.

Sunday 5 November 2017

South Sahali is launching a writing club!

Are you in grade 4, 5, 6, or 7 and do you like to write? Stories, poems, or articles? Come check out the writing club! We meet weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 12:15 in the library. See Mme Hunter if you have any questions.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Qu'est-ce que vous êtes en train de lire?

Come check out our selection of novels at the library! Travel the world through books!

À bientôt et bonne lecture!

Mme Hunter

Sunday 13 March 2016

Here's our interview with Maria Birmingham

Our Red Cedar Book Club was very fortunate to interview Maria Birmingham, the author of Tastes Like Music. The students came up with the questions, emailed them off and here are her responses.

1. Why did you want to call your book Tastes Like Music?

I actually had a different title in mind for the book. But the editors sat down and did some brainstorming to see what else they might come up with. They thought the topic of synesthesia was so interesting and especially liked the idea that some people can actually taste music. That inspired them to come up with the book's title. When they told me their idea for the title, I was excited. I love it because it grabs your attention and makes you wonder just what the book is about.

2. How did you become interested in different ways that humans work?

I was watching a TV show and saw a woman talking about her extreme memory. (She had a condition called Superior Autobiographical Memory -- which became the first topic in my book.) I was intrigued and began to think there must be many other unique conditions that we don't hear much about. So I did some research and found there are quite a few! I got in touch with my editor and proposed this book to him. He got back to me and said they wanted me to write the book!

3. Do any of the topics in the book relate to your life? We just found the answer on page 39!

I have a funny story about this. I didn't even include my condition -- anosmia -- in the original list of ideas I submitted to my editor. But he asked me if I could find a few more conditions to include in the book. While I was doing some additional research, I came across an article about anosmia and realized it would be a great topic to cover. The fact is that anosmia is a normal part of my life and something that I rarely think about, so it never dawned on me to include it in the book. But I'm sure glad I did!  

4. How long did it take you to do the research for this book before you sent it off to be published?

It took about 6 to 8 weeks to do the research. And then it took another 6 to 8 weeks to write the book. I also sent each topic to an expert to look over what I'd written and then made the changes they suggested. I really wanted to make sure all of the scientific information was accurate. I also wrote second and third drafts. Writing can be a long process!

5. Have you ever written a novel?
I haven't written a novel... yet! But I am working on a few picture books. I really hope to see one (or more!) of them published in the future. Fingers crossed!

6. Did you study to be a non-fiction writer?

I studied English and History in university. And then I went to college and studied journalism. I started writing non-fiction there, but got even more experience in writing in my first job, which was as managing editor of the Canadian kids' magazine, OWL. After several years working there, I learned a lot about writing non-fiction for kids.

7. When did you first start writing?

I wrote when I was a kid. But I starting writing as a career when I worked for OWL. I wrote articles about animals and science. And I loved to do it. When I left OWL, I started to write a monthly feature in the magazine called the Weird Zone, as well as other articles. And after a few years, the editor of the book division at OWL asked if I was interested in writing a book. I was thrilled! It's hard work, but lots of fun!

8. Do you have any other non-fiction books that you are working on?

My third non-fiction book called A Beginner's Guide to Immortality came out in October. And I just finished a second draft of my fourth book that's set to come out in 2017. Its topic is a bit of a secret right now, but I can tell you that it's a technology book with a twist. Hopefully, you'll keep your eyes out for it!!

Monday 7 March 2016

Our Red Cedar Group interviews Becky Citra!

We had an awesome Skype interview with Becky Citra, the author of Finding Grace, last Wednesday. Here's what we found out.

How did you get the idea for your book? 

I am a twin and like Hope and Grace I am very close to my twin. I have written another book about twins, so this is my second one. I also wanted to write about adoption, as my daughter is adopted.

Where did you get the inspirations for the characters?

I used to be a teacher and I have a daughter and a stepson, so I have met many young people over the years. I use bits of different people in all of my characters. Hope was the first character that I created and I wanted the twins to be similar but not exactly the same.

How did you get the idea of two sisters, not knowing the other existed?

I like to write stories with mysteries in them to keep the readers reading. Hope had to look for clues to find Grace. I have read stories in the news of twins reuniting after many years apart and that has always interested me.

Does the book connect to your life story?

I never write about myself exactly, but I need to write about what I know. The novel is all fiction, but it is written about a place that I know well: Harrison Hot Springs. I spent many vacations in Harrison Hot Springs as a young girl, the same age as Hope and Grace. When I was a young girl, a girl in one of my classes had polio and that's where I got the idea for that.

What was the message that you wanted to tell the readers?

When I start writing, that is when the characters and the story come to life. I only re-read it when the book is published. It is then that I ask myself, "what was I trying to say?". For Finding Grace, it is that different families exist. Grace and her aunt were a family and Hope and her mom and granny were a family. Two different families, but both happy. I also wanted to show that Hope had a lot of determination. She needed that to find her twin.

Are there some traits of yourself in the characters?

Yes, I am more like Hope and less like Grace. I had a happier childhood than Hope.

Where did you get the idea for the book cover?

The publisher picks the cover and I rarely get asked for input. I usually see the cover when I see the published book. I realize that this cover might only appeal to girls and I had some concerns about that, but I am happy with the cover. Covers are very important.

What inspired you to be an author?

I loved reading as a child. I had stacks and stacks of books on the go. We didn't have as many choices back then, but I always loved reading. I also loved to write and was always writing stories. After I became a teacher, I didn't write because I didn't have much time, but I always kept reading. I liked to read stories to my classes and I thought that I could write one. Finally, I started a book and I would write in the early morning. It took me 3 years to write my first book. I wrote it 2 - 3 times; it was a lot of work.

What types of books do you like to read?

I read a lot of kids books. I also love mysteries and animal stories.

What made you decide to set the story in the 1950's?

 There are a few reasons. I wanted to have Hope look for Grace in a way that wouldn't be easy like it might be today with the internet. With Grace having polio, the story had to be set in the 1950's since polio isn't a disease in Canada today. The third reason was that I wanted to write about Harrison Hot Springs as it would have been when I visited it as a child.

Thank you Becky Citra, for a great interview! And thank you to our Parent Advisory Council for buying the books for this awesome reading club!