It’s Friday the 13th, and as if that isn’t bad enough, our entire city, province actually, is under the spell of the White Witch of Narnia. The calendar says it is spring but winter shows no signs of ending. As I sit at my computer, it is snowing AGAIN and underneath the snow is a thick layer of ice. I’m losing hope that the weather will be warm and sunny when I travel to northern Alberta in less than two weeks to visit schools.
Still, even in the dreary greyness of the ice fog and snow, I’m excited about the upcoming events. There is something very special and magical about meeting with young readers and writers. As much as I love sitting in a cozy corner, my reading shawl wrapped firmly around my shoulders, working on my newest project, there is nothing better than meeting your readers face-to-face. And this tour, sponsored by Cenovus Energy, provides many such opportunities. I will be face-to-face with four different audiences every day for a total of five days. Yeah, it’s a marathon, but SO inspiring! I can’t wait.
Every time I walk into a room full of eager students and share my passion for all things literary, I’m reminded anew of why I write. It’s for them. For these enthusiastic ambassadors of the future. And, although I put on my game face and do my best to match their energy, I’m not as confident as I appear. The truth is, I want their approval much more than they want mine. They are my bosses. What they think is important and I pay close attention.
It’s also a prime opportunity to find new characters and tweak my current cast. When there are sixty students together in a room, you get an amazing overview of, not only trends and styles, but also personality types. Who is hiding? Why? Who wants to be noticed? Why? What is the energy like in the room and where is it coming from? Who dominates in this group? The keeners or the trouble-makers? Every group that walks through the doors has a different composition and while there are predictable similarities there are no two groups alike.
The challenge, but also the joy, is to try my hardest to connect with all of them. There are two questions I ask myself as I face this room full of middle school bosses. What is it I want the students to experience? What do I want them to still be thinking about after I have gone?
Those are the two questions uppermost in my mind as I prepare my presentations.
TO DO: TIME TRAVEL ADVENTURE
Write a time travel scene where your character slips back in time to a significant historic event. Choose an event in which you are interested Perhaps it is a story in the newspaper at the time. In 1929, “Wop” May flies an open cockpit biplane to a small northern Alberta community in minus thirty degree temperatures during a snowstorm, to prevent a diphtheria outbreak from spreading. What is the local folklore? Who are the local heroes.
Now choose the device which will open the portal, sending the character to a particular time. In The Journal, Kami slips back through time when she is reading an article about “Wop” May and his Mission of Mercy, an becomes an eye-witness at the event. In Winds of L’Acadie, Sarah opens a Mi’ikmaq porcupine quill box releasing strong winds that pull her into 1755 in Nova Scotia when the Acadians are being deported from their homes.
During the scene when the character is time-travelling, make it a physical experience. What does the character feel, see, hear? What emotions does the character experience? What is the first thing that the character notices immediately following the time-travel?