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.
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!
Aviaq Johnston Prize Pack – a copy of THOSE WHO DWELL BELOW
Other available prizes:
Join us on Saturday, April 20th when we chat with author, Nadia L. Hohn!