KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Aviaq Johnston

Spotlight on Canadians Header

A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Aviaq Johnston!

Aviaq Johnston grew up in Igloolik, Nunavut. Her debut novel Those Who Run in the Sky won the Indigenous Voices Award for Most Significant Work of Prose in English by an Emerging Indigenous Writer in 2018, a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Young Peoples Literature, and an Honour Book for the 2018 CODE Burt Awards for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Literature. Aviaq also has a children’s picture book called What’s My Superpower? She lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Aviaq Johnston

Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

The sequel to my first novel, Those Who Dwell Below is coming out this spring! This one takes place shortly after where we left off in Those Who Run in the Sky. Pitu is dealing with a lot as he gets used to being back home; his new role as a leader and how differently he is being treated. A spirit tells Pitu of a nearby community that is experiencing famine. To help them, he has to go and meet a well-known sea spirit, Nuliajuk.

What are you reading right now?

I am actually reading quite a few books at the moment. At home, I am reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. When travelling, I am reading 1984 by George Orwell. When walking my dog, I am listening to The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud.

Who is a Canadian author or illustrator that you’d like to see more people discover?

So many! Cherie Dimaline, Canisia Lubrin, Smokii Sumac, S.K. Ali, Joshua Whitehead, Tenille K. Campbell, Kim Thuy, Richard Van Camp, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Amal El-Mohtar, Monique Gray Smith, and Maria Qamar, all of whom have a piece of my heart.

[KBKL Note – check out our interview with S.K. Ali on April 24th!]

What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?

Perhaps one of the most surprising things I have experienced so far is how it seems that everyone in my life has suddenly forgot how to find and buy books. I appreciate that they all want a copy, but it does get tiring to be asked quite frequently where my books are available or if I have any copies I can give away. In any case, my books are easily found with a google search, available to order online, at local libraries or bookstores, and if not, you can ask the library or bookstore to order copies.

When a reader picks up your books, they can always expect to find…

Badly executed humour! And some sort of supernatural element.

What’s the most Canadian thing you’ve put in a book?

The most Canadian thing is probably that my books usually take place in winter? Since my book takes place before Canada was even a country, it feels weird to answer this haha.

What would you like to see more of in the world of Canadian children’s literature?

The future is intersectional! I want to see more Indigenous, PoC, LGBTQ2S+ characters in all genres, I want to see proper representation of our cultures, I want to see us writing our own stories. Ajunngittugut, we can do this and we are doing this!

If you could spend a day inside of any book, which one would you choose?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline would be super fun to be stuck in for a day! I would look for a world where you could literally play as Link in every Legend of Zelda game there is, then spend my time exploring Hyrule and paragliding.

Lastly, we always end with: what’s your best piece of kick-butt advice?

The first draft is always the worst your manuscript will ever be, so don’t let editing get you down! It’s a long process, but at the end of it all your story will be strong and will be accessible to any reader you can imagine.

So true! Thank you so much for joining us, Aviaq!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, add Aviaq’s books on Goodreads!

Connect with Aviaq on Instagram or Twitter!

Click here to enter to the Spotlight on Canadians Giveaway! You could win one of 25 prize packs featuring books from all of our amazing creators!

Aviaq Johnston Prize Pack – a copy of THOSE WHO DWELL BELOW


Those Who Dwell Below Inhabit Cover

Other available prizes:


Qin Leng Prize Pack – a copy of THE BETTER TREE FORT

Sarah Everett Prize Pack – a copy of NO ONE HERE IS LONELY

Nhung Tran-Davies Prize Pack – a copy of A GRAIN OF RICE

Cale Atkinson Prize Pack – a copy of OFF & AWAY

Nafiza Azad Prize Pack – an ARC of THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME

Melanie Florence Prize Pack – an ARC of JUST LUCKY

Erin Bow Prize Pack – an ARC of STAND ON THE SKY

Natasha Deen Prize Pack – a copy of IN THE KEY OF NIRA GHANI

Charlene Chua Prize Pack – a copy of THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

Tanaz Bhathena Prize Pack – a copy of THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT

Philippa Dowding Prize Pack – a copy of OCULUM

Mahtab Narsimhan Prize Pack – a copy of EMBRACE THE CHICKEN

Mireille Messier Prize Pack – a signed copy of TELLEMENT SAUVAGE!

Jennifer Mook-Sang Prize Pack – a signed copy of CAPTAIN MONTY TAKES THE PLUNGE

Regan McDonell Prize Pack – a copy of BLACK CHUCK

Carmen Mok Prize Pack – a copy of GRANDMOTHER’S VISIT

Tom Ryan Prize Pack – the very first signed ARC of KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF

Naseem Hrab Prize Pack – a copy of IRA CRUMB FEELS THE FEELINGS

Joanne Robertson Prize Pack – a signed copy of THE WATER WALKER

Sarah Raughley Prize Pack – all three books in the EFFIGIES series

Join us on Saturday, April 20th when we chat with author, Nadia L. Hohn!

3 thoughts on “KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Aviaq Johnston

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s