Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Breaking Our Legs for Lit ... and the Kids

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I've just returned from several days speaking in Montreal, followed by a stint on the stages of the Thin Air International Writers Festival in Winnipeg, and a few readings at libraries in Kitchener, Ontario. Before this month is out, I'll be at the Muskoka Literary Festival in Huntsville, Ontario, at libraries in Kingston and Ottawa, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, at schools in London, and then in Calgary before finishing things off with a week entertaining students in Regina. I feel tired already.

Everywhere I go, audience members, teachers, librarians and others tell me that they like what I'm doing. No one throws peanuts at me or falls into dead sleeps, at least not that I notice. But I don't get too chuffed about that. I think it is a common reaction to the work of most Young Adult authors on stages in Canada. I write for adults as well as kids, often see colleagues perform who write solely for the older set ... and I have to say, when it comes to entertaining the masses, those who do it for the littler folks, are the best, hands down. In a way, we have no choice. If you stand in front of kids and drone on about your work and read without much expression, do everything "by the book," as it were, without much invention, secure in the knowledge that they will "get it," a young crowd will let you know, one way or the other, believe me. And it won't be pretty. YA authors learn not just to "present," but "perform." They come at their audiences, armed with AV images, funny stories that they have learned will work, quirky approaches, and dramatic readings. I'm not saying we are all barn burners, but catch the likes of Eric Walters or Ted Staunton on a stage near you, and you'll see what I mean.

Now, if I can just keep upright through this busy schedule this month, perhaps I can live up to all that, and "break a leg" again and again, at schools, and libraries, and festivals, for lit ... and the kids.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shane Peacock

Shane Peacock is a biographer, journalist, screenwriter, playwright and novelist. He has received many honours for his writing, including the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award for Eye of the Crow, the first of his Boy Sherlock Holmes series.

Go to Shane Peacock’s Author Page