On Books I Have Loved: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Dear Future Publisher,

I read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke shortly after it was released, at which point I was undoubtedly slightly too young to fully appreciate its subtleties.  I remember loving it, but in a different way from books I had read before. Continue reading


On the Need for Speed

Dear Future Publisher,

I work my magic quickly.  I write in bursts, intense spasms of creative fluidity, short-lived but transporting and productive.  Sometimes I get into a rhythm and just pound out the words, but even when I am feeling uninspired, I am, on the whole, a fast writer.  I don’t agonize too much over the words, and focus on trying to get the ideas down.  I can edit later, but for the time being, the important thing is to keep moving forward.  I usually work in an overlapping pattern – start a couple of pages back in my work, reread and edit a little, and then forge ahead from there.  It helps remind me where I am coming from, and gives me a chance to work on any immediate problems that jump out at me.  The end of a day’s work (when I am starting to fade) gets a second look with a fresh mind, and I situate myself for the new day’s work.  I can pretty easily cover a fair bit of ground in a day, especially if I don’t have other tasks.  Continue reading

On Books I Have Loved: Pellinor

Dear Future Publisher,

The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon were a prominent feature of my high school days, and encouraged and fed my love for high fantasy.  I don’t remember how I came upon them – whether the first book was recommended to me, or given as a gift, or whether I saw it on the shelf at the book store and took a chance – but I am glad that I did.  The endorsement on the cover from Tamora Pierce may well have influenced me.  When one author you love sings the praises of another book, you trust them.  But I do remember that I was madly, passionately, thoroughly in love with these books.   Continue reading

On Squishbutt and the Doofi

Dear Future Publisher,

One of the incredible things about writing is the astonishing variety of our language.  So many diverse words and terms can be used to refer to the same thing, and can bring to the fore different aspects or elements of that thing.  This can make choosing difficult, but it can be thrilling to delight in the options before me, to seek the one with the perfect nuances and connotations, and to try to pick the one that you – and future readers – will like best.

You again? Okay lady, but make it quick. I have sleeping to do.

Continue reading

On Books I Have Loved: Amber Brown

Dear Future Publisher,

The Amber Brown books by Paula Danziger were one of my early loves.  I must have read them in about grade two.  Grade two (and probably to some extent grade one) was an important year in the development of my lifelong passion for reading.  The love of books had long since been instilled in me as a listener (read to by my parents or older sister), but my skill and confidence with independent reading had advanced to the point where I could now comfortably and easily read “chapter books” at a sometimes alarming pace.  I devoured books, and these were some of those books I devoured.  My appetite for reading was insatiable at that age.  Indeed, I expect that more of my nostalgic favourites – books from my early childhood that have stayed with me in a big way – will trace back to that eye-opening year (or so) than to any other (although there are plenty to share around between the other years as well).  This is just one series that captured my heart. Continue reading

On Intimacy

Dear Future Publisher,

The truth is, I’m afraid of intimacy.  I fear the intimacy of opening up to you and sharing my ideas, my innermost thoughts and dreams.  I know there are clues in what I have written, moments when, if I read back what is there, I see myself stripped bare.  I see an honesty I am unaccustomed to in my more measured, controlled interactions with the world.  I am, on some level, an open person – sometimes blunt, often opinionated, always honest, but there is honesty and then there is revealing honesty, and I commit to one but not the other.  I do my darnedest not to lie, but I do not always come out with the whole truth, not, at least, unprovoked, unrequested.  I do not, often, reveal myself.  Certainly not to that woman I passed in the aisle at the grocery store with a bawling child strapped in her cart, or the man in line ahead of me at the post office, the one with the beard and the camouflage hat.  Not to the people I do not know.  Yes, even I close up my deeper self, like all people, away from the judging, searching lights of strangers. Continue reading

On the Messy Stuff

Dear Future Publisher,

I believe in hard work.  I don’t think for a minute that just because I have some natural talent for writing, or because I “really want this”, that I will in any way be handed success.  I know that to achieve my goals I have to work hard, put in the time and the effort, and even then I have no guarantees.  The truth is that this is a tough business, and talent and hope aren’t enough.  But if I work hard every day to earn success, I have a good chance.  At the very least, as long as I am working diligently, I am growing and learning and improving.  I don’t believe in fate.  I don’t think that just because I have loved writing since I learned how, or because it is what I want to do with my life, that I am therefore destined to find success – that the universe will deliver a writing career at my doorstep like a stork bringing a baby, without any of the messy stuff that actually needs to happen beforehand in real life, the trials and difficulties that are a necessary part of the achievement of that success.  There is a quote in The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, about soppy dreams versus honest good work, and even though I am a relentless dreamer, I think it’s true. Continue reading

On Books I Have Loved

Dear Future Publisher,

I don’t have a publication history to tell you about.  My relationships in that regard are nil.  But I do have a history that I feel I should share with you.  I have loved, before.  I have loved many times.  I have loved books.

Only a reader can fully understand the bond a person can make with a book.  Books speak into our minds.  They show us things we never thought to see and teach us things we never thought to learn and they stay with us, sometimes, long after we have closed them and put them away on a shelf.  They leave imprints on us.  They change us, truly, a little at a time, as tendrils of thoughts from this one and that one stick to us and remain with us, like glitter, impossible to eradicate, and as these tendrils twine together sometimes in new and unexpected ways.  And as a result they feel bound up in our self-identity. Continue reading