IMG_1489.jpgHello dear blog readers, I'm just home from another busy day at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival here in Montreal! This morning, I did a writing workshop with students from Quebec High School, Vezina School, and Royal West Academy. This afternoon, I spoke to students at the Eleanor London-Cote St. Luc Library.

The first picture posted here was taken this afternoon at the library. The students are looking at the necklace that appears on the cover of my book What World Is Left.

The second photo was taken at the Delta Hotel this morning, where most of the festival activities are taking place. I took it while the students were doing a writing exercise -- there's nothing we writers like more than being in a room where people are writing!

For the exercise, I asked students to imagine what it would be like if they were someone who was the complete opposite of themselves. Samantha, a 10th Grade student at Quebec High School, imagined being someone very shy and insecure (not at all like Samantha, who is outgoing and confident). Caelean, a 9th Grade student at Vezina School, imagined being one of his friends, a guy who is obsessed with all things Greek. "Ever since he saw the movie 300, he's been living by the Spartan code," Caelean told us. Rapahelle, who's in 10th grade at Quebec High School, said she got really interested by what I said about the importance of body language. "After you mentioned it in the first ten minutes, I started noticing it all session," she told me. And Paul, another 10th Grade student at Quebec High School, decided he would like to write a story from the point of view of a Canadian soldier stationed in Afghanistan. The story, Paul explained, would be very personal since Paul's brother Etienne is currently stationed there. I asked Paul how it felt to "find" his story and he said, "It's pretty much cool!"

At the library this afternoon, I did a talk called "Mining for Stories" in which I discussed how stories go from a simple idea to a book. We also discussed interviewing strategies and the importance of observation. Speaking of which, I observed that two students in the afternoon group, Zak and Ben, were both wearing two different sneakers -- it turns out they had done a sneaker exchange. I wondered if that could be a problem if a person happened to exchange sneakers with someone who has smelly feet -- but another student, Jordan, said he had a solution. "My mom uses Febreeze in my sneakers!" 

I have many people to thank again today -- the teachers at this morning's workshop (Claire, Kathy, Anita and Bruce -- Bruce even let me borrow his camera batteries when mine konked out!); Kathy, the children's librarian at the Eleanor London-Cote St. Luc Library; her assistant Dolores; Norma Newman, librarian at Hebrew Academy; the various teachers who were there this afternoon (I'm afraid I didn't get all their names), and of course, the students I got to meet today!

I thought I'd end today's blog entry with a couple of quotes from Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua, who spoke last night at Blue Metropolis. He talked about the research involved in writing a book. "The most fun thing," he said, "is when you leave your desk and go to whatever expert you have to go to." Yehoshua also spoke about the importance of understanding the characters you are writing about: "To understand the other, you sometimes have to sleep in his bed." That should give you something to mull on for the next few days!

Oh, some exciting news! I just learned today that What World Is Left has been nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award! FUN!!!!