Arthur Slade, David Robertson, and Miriam Körner are some of the most successful children’s writers in Canada right now. Between them, they have published a raft of books and have won all kinds of awards. I listened to them last night as they shared their vision and voice in a discussion at a Saskatoon conference for children’s writers. Their exchange of ideas was led by Alice Kuipers a children’s writer who helped to organize the conference.
It was interesting to note what motivates each writer. Miriam is passionate about Canada’s north and loves sled dogs and sled dog racing. In her books, she is trying to share that passion with others.
Arthur told us his latest book Crimson was written especially for his daughter who he and his wife adopted from China in 2010. He wanted to create an authentic story for her.
David talked about trying to be an example for young indigenous writers. He wants them to feel that they too have powerful stories they can share.
When Alice asked each writer to talk about how they present themselves to the world Miriam laughed and said she would rather not have to think about presenting herself to the public. She wishes her books would speak for themselves and she could just spend all her time in her cabin in the bush in La Ronge Saskatchewan with her husband and sixteen sled dogs.
Arthur talked about the persona he needs to maintain on social media and how it is hard to balance the work that involves, with his need to find space and time for writing.
David shared his thoughts about wanting to present himself as an indigenous writer. He hasn’t always embraced that role but realizes there are many things Canadians need to know about his culture.
Miriam writes books for young teens because she thinks that is such a crucial time in their lives when everything begins to change for them and the world they had taken for granted suddenly looks so different. Many young people believe they can change the world and Miriam wants to capture those youthful voices in her writing.
Arthur told us he fell into writing for kids accidentally. He was writing adult novels and someone evaluating one of his manuscripts told him it would be a great teen or young adult novel.
David says he writes for kids because he wants to have some input into shaping the children who will be our leaders of tomorrow. He thinks about what he wants young people to carry with them so they can create a different reality for our country and the world. What will his books teach them?
The Vision and Voice panel was a great way to kick off the conference and really got attendees thinking about their own motivations, public persona and why they have chosen to write for young people.