Canadian Writers’ Summit! Big Issues in YA Writing…

CWS

The Canadian Writers’ Summit is scheduled to take place this coming June at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and it is HUGE! This is being billed as a SUPER-CONFERENCE, as it is hosted by a bevy of Canadian writer organizations. Members of all of the writing organizations hosting the event (and there are many), as well as anyone interested in writing, are encouraged to attend.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been added as a last minute replacement to participate in the BIG ISSUES IN YOUNG ADULT WRITING panel discussion on Friday June 17th. This is especially pleasing to me because I dedicate my novel writing life on tackling young adult issues. It’s what I do. I have no idea whether or not I’m good at it, but I am 100% committed and passionate about doing it. Everything I write for the YA market is issue oriented.

From the CWS website, here’s the write-up for the panel discussion:

Jump into the world of young adult literature. The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experiences of the main character, but YA literature spans the spectrum of literary genres and themes. Hear more about the big issues of today in YA from Canada’s YA literary writers.

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I hope to contribute some helpful wisdom to the conversation and look forward to discussing the importance of tackling issues in YA literature. It’s a delicate thing to do in fiction, especially when writing for today’s intelligent teens—injecting issues into story without preaching or talking down…and without making it obvious that the issue is there. One needs a delicate balance to do this—as, in the end, story and entertainment value are paramount. Issues kinda sorta need to be there without being there. So looking forward to this Super-conference…visit the website today. It’s a super packed conference that most definitely has something for everyone!

CWS

CLICK THIS IMAGE TO VISIT THE CWS WEBSITE – Hope to see you there!

To check out my own issue-centric young adult novels, click on the covers to visit their Amazon pages for details and to read the openings through the LOOK INSIDE feature:

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My other titles, Sebastian’s Poet & The Reasons, are definitely ISSUE stories facing children as well…but they have mature themes and are NOT considered Young Adult.

See you at the CANADIAN WRITERS’ SUMMIT at Harbourfront this June!

Set in Toronto. Set in Canada. Are These Viable Settings for Novels?

If you’re Canadian have you ever felt the shame that goes along with it? Don’t lie. It’s there. We are the country ashamed of its culture. We are the country struggling to define its culture. We are the country used to depict American cities in movies because it’s more budget friendly. We are the country that is painstakingly removed from said movies one Toronto Star box at a time. Oops…don’t get that Tim Horton’s in the shot…this is New York, people. Remove all traces of Canada.

But sometimes…sometimes Toronto IS the best place to set a thing. Think of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. That was a delightful tour-de-force of a movie that would not have been the same in any other setting in the world. Toronto was a perfect match for Pilgrim. I’ll never forget being at the Scotiabank Theatre during the opening credits of Scott Pilgrim. The crowd went wild. That was US on that screen. Toronto. For once it was okay to be from this amazing city that seemed to require secretive measures whenever it appeared on the big screen. Toronto was a dirty little secret in Hollywood. And we all sensed it…until Scott Pilgrim.

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Yes, Scott Pilgrim wasn’t the first movie openly set in Toronto. And it won’t be the last. It did seem like a line in the sand, though. Scott Pilgrim definitely brought out our cool side. We could do this. Toronto can be a cool setting. It is a viable world city. We need to change our perceptions.

When I started writing my 2nd published novel, I knew instinctively that the perfect setting for my bohemian 1970s family on the brink of destruction was The Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto. I love my city. I love it hard. Sebastian Nelson, the narrator of Sebastian’s Poet, had to be from Toronto. Had to be from The Beaches. And no, I won’t call it The Beach. It’s The Beaches. It will always be The Beaches.

For my first novel, I intentionally avoided naming the setting. I was afraid that agents wouldn’t look at a novel that dared to mention Canada. This comes from somewhere. I didn’t dream up this self-loathing of place on my own. As Canadians, I sometimes feel we are conditioned to take the back seat. The sad part is, I think it’s mostly ourselves relegating ourselves to this stature. We have blurred lines where our nationalism is concerned. We grow up on American TV and music. We occasionally shun our own programming. We say, “That show’s Canadian” with disdain before quickly changing the channel.

I LOVE America. This is not an anti-America rant. I just wish we were comfortable enough in our own skins to not only be proud to be Canadians, but to salute our homeland in our creative endeavours. My go-to instinct, when embarking on fiction, was to never speak of Canada in my writings. I’m so glad I ignored this instinct when I created Sebastian’s Poet. Sebastian needed to be from the Queen Street East neighbourhood. He needed to know the yumminess that is THE GOOF. He needed the Eaton Centre windows at Christmas in the 70s. He needed to know Cirone’s Grocery, the TTC. He NEEDED GORDON LIGHTFOOT!

Some stories just require Canadiana in order for them to be told. Sometimes, the only place in the world where a story belongs is in Toronto. We set a tourism record here in Toronto for 2014. 14.3 million visitors. It’s time to show our streets in movies and literature. It’s time to stop being ‘New York’. We can do this. We can be ourselves. We’re good enough. We are a viable setting.

15725603My Toronto set novel, Sebastian’s Poet, is the story of a boy growing up with a bohemian father on a path of destruction in the 1970s and the folksinger who tries to rescue him from the chaos.

From Amazon:

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family.

LOOK INSIDE and 1-CLICK Sebastian’s Poet today at Amazon, now on sale for $2.67.

Check out the Amazing Reviews garnered by Sebastian’s Poet on GOODREADS!

Perfect Timing – A 10-Minute Play – 2013 InspiraTO Festival

So, I have been given permission to share photos taken at the 2013 InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. After the InspiraTO wraps, I’ll post pics from a few shows. For today, it’s just going to be a few stills from my own play. PERFECT TIMING is my InspiraTO play that takes place inside the theatre, on the main stage.

inspiraTO theatre festival 2013 –
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Perfect Timing by Kevin Craig
Dramaturge / MC Thompson
Director / Kim Sprenger
Cast / Liam Doherty (Carl)
Cast / Jennifer Gillespie (Melissa)
photography by Ismail Atiev
to attend please visit:
INSPIRATO FESTIVAL

(BUT HURRY! It ends on Saturday June 8th, 2013!)

'My' actors! Jennifer Gillespie & Liam Doherty!

‘My’ actors! Jennifer Gillespie & Liam Doherty!

The actors for Perfect Timing were so much fun! I went to 2 rehearsals at Kim Sprenger’s place and watch as Jennifer, Liam and Kim brought the play to life in the comfort of Kim’s living room. All I had to do at rehearsals was sit back and laugh. The 3 formed a cohesive unit. They seemed to know exactly what they were going to do and when they were going to do it. I enjoyed watching as they each had their A-ha! moments that brought exquisite little details of business into the body of the play. Believe me when I say this, A PLAY IS A COLLABORATION CREATED BY ALL INVOLVED IN ITS MAKING. I wrote the script, the dramaturg made it shine, the director and actors added the business that made it sail. I am so pleased with what my collaborators created. The finished piece makes them all shine. (-:

jDlOmOF7bdmGNdnm3jNhsxXtHDTZxJBjIJWF-ayF_CgBoth of the actors had their own special attributes. Jennifer, shown above fanning herself, instinctively knew that physical comedy was called for with her character. And she rocked it.

rDCm4vNnuMagtfb1h6DMRXW5wDghWdBnWT3pNTdaxlYHere’s Jennifer Gillespie (Melissa), giving Liam Doherty (Carl) what for! Liam’s dry delivery was the perfect offset for Jennifer’s physical comedy. He nailed his lines. Watching the rehearsal’s in Kim’s living room, I’d be laughing as Jennifer flew across the ‘stage’ at Liam…and I’d barely catch my breath when Liam would drop a line with his signature drollness…and I’d lose it again. I could not have asked for better actors.

Thanks to Dominik Loncar & Lumir Hladik of the InspiraTO Festival—for providing me with such a great atmosphere of mentorship. And thanks to my dramaturg, MC Thompson for taking the time to ask ALL the right questions and make ALL the right suggestions. Thanks to Kim Sprenger for her vision as director of Perfect Timing. And many thanks to Jennifer Gillespie & Liam Doherty for more than bringing Melissa & Carl to life!

Oh Canada, our home and native land…

(I wrote a post for ALL THE WRITE NOTES today…feel free to swing by and check out the blog!)

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