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Books to Inspire Writers in the Thick of It

You're looking at what you've written, and it's ... not very good. You can't figure out the voice. You can't make a city come alive. Your dialogue is flat. Your magic realism is way too woo-woo. It's all feeling grim.

Maybe it's time to stop the clicking for a few hours, and go outside. Yes outside (be careful, it might be bright), en route to a bookstore or library near you for inspiration. You might find just the book to untangle your thoughts and give you a whole new idea for how to approach a writing block.

In that spirit, we've compiled a few lists from over the years from generous author-contributors that might be helpful to you (the writer!) on your way to pushing through to something great.

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Great Kid Narrators (a list from Aga Maksimowksa): Aga writes: "These eight [narrators] have made me spurt soda in fits of giggles, cry until I gave myself the hiccups, and highlight their books until the pages turned parking-ticket yellow and tacky with fluorescent ink." To her list we would add narrators from Cordelia Strube's Lemon and On the Shores of Darkness There Is Light, Nancy Lee's The Age, Susan Juby's The Truth Commission, Alan Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Teresa Toten's The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b, Susin Nielsen's The Reluctant Journal o …

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Amber Dawn, Leah Horlick, and Vivek Shraya: Where the Mountains End

Book Cover Where My Words End My Body Begins

Amber Dawn, Vivek Shraya, and Leah Horlick are joining forces for the "Where the Mountains End" tour on the US west coast during the month of April. Amber Dawn will be reading from her new poetry book, Where the words end and my body begins, Vivek Shraya will read from his recent novel, She of the Mountains, and Leah Horlick reads from her new poetry book, For Your Own Good. Find tour dates here

Andrea Routley (managing editor of Plenitude Magazine, Canada’s queer literary magazine, and the author of Jane and the Whales) gives us a preview of what to expect from the tour with the following interview about where their works come from, queerness and politics, and what they're looking forward to about working together. 

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Andrea Routley: You all draw on a cultural legacy in exploring your subjects—from Jewish mysticism (Leah) and Hindu mythology (Vivek) to the work of lesbian poets such as Gertrude Stein and Adrienne Rich (Amber Dawn). How does the exploration of these legacies inform the way you write about contemporary experiences? 

Amber Dawn: My poetry collection is very much about how and where to locate myself within past, present, and future queer and survivor communities. The poets who I cite in my book, like Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Anne-Marie …

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The State of the Canadian Short Story in 2015

In 2011, a group of Canadian writers declared the Year of the Short Story (YOSS), “to bring short fiction the larger audience it deserves.” In the years since, in notable short story developments, Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize and Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank-Giller Prize for her book, Hellgoing. So we decided that now would be a very good time to take stock, to check in with some fine writers across the country to find out where Canadian stories are at.

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Book Cover Eating Habits

49thShelf: Does the short story still need defending? Championing? Does the short story even care?

Megan Coles: If the novel is CanLit King, then the short story is our second son; the sexy, irreverent Prince who is liable to get naked and fly fighter jets. Originality is always in need of defending as its merits aren’t readily understood and people are instinctively adverse to risk. The form is inherently daring and untamable. That’s what makes it so exciting and integral to innovative Canadian Literature. The short story is limitless: tight and expansive in the same breath, generous and ruthless in the same beat. The short story is its own champion. It can’t care in a pragmatic sense. Anxiety would inhibit which is totally counterintuitive to the form. Instead, the short story take …

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