Kicking Back with Kick-butt and Louisa Onomé!

Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
Today we’re chatting with Louisa Onomé, the author of
LIKE HOME

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

Let’s talk to this awesome author about her amazing book!
This is Louisa. Everyone say, “Hi, Louisa!”

Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Louisa! Why don’t we start with some introductions – tell us about yourself!

Hey! I’m Louisa Onome, and I’m a writer based in the Toronto area. My debut young adult contemporary, Like Home, is all about friendship, family, and what it really means to change. When I’m not writing, I moonlight as a therapist (I know, the shock!) and can usually be found hanging with friends (pre-pandemic, anyway) or glued to my PlayStation. 

What was the inspiration behind LIKE HOME?

Like Home was inspired by a slew of things, but first and foremost, I had really wanted to write a story that depicted the kind of childhood closeness I had with friends growing up. I was fortunate enough to live on a street where the kids on my street were all close friends. Each of us were kids of immigrants, so our experiences differed based on where our parents were from, but we had so many similarities trying to navigate our environments. And then, of course, the catalyst for me actually writing the book was this Korean drama I watched called ‘Reply 1988’. It broke me! The relationships on that show reminded me so much of my own upbringing and it made me want to try my hand at writing a story like that.

Love that!

What were you doing when you found out there was an offer on your book? (We always love these stories!)  

Ha! I am notoriously always frying plantain or trying to cook something oily whenever important publishing news comes out. I distinctly remember tweeting something ridiculous (as I normally do) and then, immediately after, my editor emails me with the announcement and I had to tweet that. So both tweets back to back definitely looked like they belonged to different people, but I’m cool with that because it just proves we all contain multitudes!

What were three interesting things you discovered while working on LIKE HOME?

Oh I love this question! The main thing that I discovered while writing Like Home is that I can tell a story that is authentic to my own experience, to a world I am familiar with, and people will still connect with it. Prior to Like Home, I wrote four other manuscripts, none of which anyone will ever see because they just weren’t very good. But something that stuck out to me in those old attempts is that I wasn’t being myself. I was writing protagonists I had no business writing, and I was writing about things I didn’t even truly care about. Once I got rid of the idea of what was acceptable for me to write, and once I really tapped into things that matter to me, it became so much easier to write this story.  I also discovered that I enjoy writing friend fights and I swear a lot more than I thought I did.

What an invaluable discovery! (But also laughing about the swearing thing. 😂)

If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?

I would love to put them in a fantasy setting, so maybe the world that Roseanne A. Brown created in A Song of Wraiths and Ruin! It’s so rich and the folklore feels so real.

Why were you drawn to writing YA?

I love YA because of its freshness. Personally, when I was that age, it was the last time anything was new. You could conceptualize and experience firsts in a way that is hard for me to do the older I get. I think a part of me wants to always remember what that feels like, and reading and writing YA is such a thorough way of reliving those emotions. On another level, I just love how creative YA can be and how we can explore so many difficult themes in a variety of ways.

Any hints about your next book project?

Yes! My next project is also a YA contemporary, currently titled Model Minority. It’s about a Nigerian-Canadian girl who is caught between both aspects of her culture, the Nigerian culture she is born into and the Western culture she was raised in. At its core, it’s a story about identity and how we put these labels on ourselves that may hurt us more than help us. There is also a love triangle, which I’m having a lot of fun writing. It’s scheduled to come out spring 2022 and I’m so excited for readers to experience aspects of my personal culture.

Looking forward to it!

What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am every time I meet a new, supportive writer. The community is so cool and I’ve found that there’s always someone willing to help when you need it. 

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I have the immense pleasure of reading Courtney Gould’s The Dead and the Dark. It comes out August 3 and it’s so haunting! Literally hooks you from the first page.

What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?

My favourite piece of advice is pretty simple: Keep going. I know that can mean a lot of things to different people, and truly it all depends on your perspective as well, but when I say keep going, I mean continue writing, continue learning, and continue growing. The journey only stops if you do!

One hundred percent! So true!

Thank you for joining us, Louisa!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out LIKE HOME!
It hits shelves on February 23rd!

Add LIKE HOME on Goodreads!

Connect with Louisa on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website!

Click here to enter to win a copy of LIKE HOME!
Contest ends Saturday February 20th at 11:59 pm EST

Thanks for reading!

Kicking Back with Kick-butt and Bethany C. Morrow!

Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!

We’re chatting with Bethany C. Morrow, the editor (and a contributing author) of

TAKE THE MIC: FICTIONAL STORIES OF EVERYDAY RESISTANCE

A young adult anthology featuring fictional stories of everyday resistance.

You might be the kind of person who stands up to online trolls.

Or who marches to protest injustice.

Perhaps you are #DisabledAndCute and dancing around your living room, alive and proud.

Or perhaps you are the trans mentor that you wish you had when you were younger.

Maybe you call out false allies, or stand up to loved ones.

Maybe you speak your truth and drop the mic, or maybe you take it with you when you leave.

This anthology features fictional stories–in poems, prose, and art–that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day. TAKE THE MIC’s powerful collection of stories features work by literary luminaries and emerging talent alike, including Newbery-winner Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestseller Samira Ahmed, anthologist and contributor Bethany C. Morrow, Darcie Little Badger, Keah Brown, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, Sofia Quintero, Ray Stoeve, Yamile Mendez, and Connie Sun, with cover and interior art by Richie Pope.

Let’s talk to this fantastic editor and author about this incredible book!

This is Bethany. Everyone say, “Hi, Bethany!”

Bethany C Morrow

Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Bethany! Tell us about yourself!

I’m an author of adult and young adult fiction, ranging from speculative literary to contemporary fantasy to science fiction, always representing Black women as the central figures of our own stories, in any genre. I’ve been an anthologist/editor, as well, and sometimes write essays. I’ve just tried my hand at interviewing fellow authors, and enjoyed every minute!

Interviewing authors IS pretty fun! 😀

You are the editor of TAKE THE MIC: FICTIONAL STORIES OF EVERYDAY RESISTANCE. Where did the idea behind this anthology come from?

The rockstar known as Beth Phelan originally approached me about writing a pitch for a short story on resistance, in December 2016, I believe. I ended up talking to her at length, and expressed my passion for an anthology that would honor the everyday resistances being waged and survived by young marginalized people, not just the organized efforts involving protests, etc. Eventually, I not only wrote the short story, but was asked to come onboard as editor, as well.

How did you bring authors together for this project? What made them a good fit?

I went to authors from historically – and presently – underrepresented backgrounds/identities, and asked them to speak to the reality of everyday life they know well. Sometimes someone would be telling a story about something just incredulous that happened to them, and I’d slide into their DMs and ask if they’d be willing to write it into a short story or poem. I was honored to have Jason Reynolds and Samira Ahmed involved, but I was really passionate about being a platform for people who weren’t as widely known yet, and need to be!

I think that’s so great that you focused on lifting up newer voices as well.

What were three interesting things you discovered while working on TAKE THE MIC?

The first is how gracious (!!) these authors were when it came to feedback and just vulnerability. I am still in awe of all of them.

The second thing was how bad my memory is. Almost every group email, I had to check the cover art to make sure I’d gotten everyone’s contact info on the email.

And the third isn’t really something new, just something that continues to disappoint and demonstrate how the power majority needs to really consider whether they’re ready to do the work. When a group of own voice narratives paint a similar picture of the oppressive and offensive nature of whiteness, that conglomerate power institution, it is disgusting to have that continuity disparaged or disbelieved. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The point of this anthology is that we do not require validation; we are free to speak the truth regardless.

Any tips for people who are interested in tackling short stories? 

Short stories, for me, start with understanding that it’s about more than a word count. That goes for novellas, and the like, as well. It isn’t just short. There should be an arc and a completion to it, a fullness, even when the end isn’t final.

Why were you drawn to writing young adult fiction?

I don’t really have a “why.” I don’t think it requires some particular stimuli or inspiration necessarily. It’s a very broad and satisfying category to write in, and I care very much about the audience.

Are you able to give us a hint about your next book project?

By the time you read this, you’ll have had an opportunity to see the cover reveal for my June 2020 release, A SONG BELOW WATER, as well as read a chapter excerpt!

It’s a gorgeous cover and the excerpt was fantastic. Can’t wait to read the whole book when it’s out!

What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?

I really couldn’t put my finger on one.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve started and very much want to get back to: WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH and WARGIRLS.

What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?

You’re not well-read if you only read white authors.

Yes. Absolutely.

Thank you so much for joining us, Bethany!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, check out TAKE THE MIC – it’s on shelves now!

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Add TAKE THE MIC on Goodreads!

Connect with Bethany on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website!

Click here to enter to win a copy of TAKE THE MIC!
Contest closes Wednesday, November 27th at 11:59 pm EST

Thanks for reading!

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Giveaway!

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Two months, twenty-five interviews, and hopefully MANY new names for your book shelves! This spotlight series has been a ton of fun to work on. I hope all of our Kick-butt readers at home enjoyed it as well.

But wait! We’re not done yet!

THERE’S A GIVEAWAY, REMEMBER?

You can enter to win one of 25 prize packs featuring books from all of our amazing Canadian authors and illustrators!

Click here to enter to the Spotlight on Canadians Giveaway!
Ends April 28th, 2019!

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Missed one of our interviews? Get caught up by checking out the links below:

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Sarah Raughley, Joanne Robertson, Naseem Hrab, Tom Ryan, Carmen Mok

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Regan McDonell, Jennifer Mook-Sang, Mireille Messier, Mahtab Narsimhan,
Philippa Dowding

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Tanaz Bhathena, Charlene Chua, Natasha Deen, Erin Bow, Melanie Florence

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Nafiza Azad, Cale Atkinson, Nhung Tran-Davies, Sarah Everett, Qin Leng

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Wade Albert White, Aviaq Johnston, Nadia L. Hohn, Jess Keating, S.K. Ali

Stay tuned for more awesome interviews with amazing Kick-butt Kidlit creators and as always, thank you for reading!

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: S.K. Ali

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, S.K. Ali!

S. K. Ali is the author of YA novels, Love from A to Z, and the 2018 Morris award finalist, Saints and Misfits, which won critical acclaim for its portrayal of an unapologetic Muslim-American teen’s life. She has a picture book, The Proudest Blue, co-authored with Olympic medalist, Ibtihaj Muhammad, coming out in September, 2019, which is a story about resilience in the face of othering. She has a degree in Creative Writing and has written about Muslim life for various media, including the Toronto Star and NBC News.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

Love from A to Z is a YA novel about two teens, one Canadian (Adam), the other American (Zayneb), who meet on a plane on their way to spend spring break in Doha, a city in the Arabian gulf. The thing they don’t know about each other is that they’ve both been keeping “Marvels and Oddities” journals, recording the amazing and not-so-amazing things in the world. When they meet, they’re at low points in their lives, and the story traces whether they’re meant to meet each other or not, whether they’re marvels or oddities in each other’s worlds.

I also have an unannounced project, a middle-grade one, that I’m really excited about, as well as the sequel to Saints and Misfits. I’m having a lot of fun with the latter as I want to give Janna, the MC, the time of her life — something she didn’t get previously!

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan. A Canadian!

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

Ausma Zehanat Khan — she has an excellent mystery series. In terms of kidlit, I’d love if more people discovered the work of illustrator Elly MacKay.

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

That there’s publicity involved! I seriously had no idea that I’d be asked to be on TV, radio, to do interviews, etc. I really envisioned the task of authoring as churning out books that people would just somehow discover. Now that I know that books need to be pushed (more so in this day and age), I’m learning how to do it effectively.

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

All sorts of emotions evoked — from tears to laughter to contemplation and, hopefully, deep connection. Also, a HUGE cast of characters.

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

Well in Love from A to Z, I put in Canada Goose symbolism. In a WIP that I’m revising, I put in a lot of Tim Horton’s love.

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

More books centering marginalized characters written by marginalized authors that don’t cater to othering-expectations.

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

Am I weird to say that I would like to remain in my world? I love books but I also love coming out of them so much! (Though, when I was a kid, I would have said any one of Beverly Cleary’s books.)

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

Don’t get fixed in writerly ways. Don’t fall for the thinking: I have to do it this way. Try different things and reinvent your techniques, styles, process as many times as you need to.

Yes! So true! Thank you so much for joining us, S.K.!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, add S.K.’s books on Goodreads!

Connect with S.K. on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website!

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!

S.K. Ali Prize Pack – a copy of LOVE FROM A TO Z

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Other available prizes:

Jess Keating Prize Pack – a signed ARC of NIKKI TESLA AND THE FERRET-PROOF
DEATH RAY

Nadia L. Hohn Prize Pack – a signed copy of MALAIKA’S COSTUME

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

Wade Albert White Prize Pack – a copy of THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO TREASURE (AND HOW TO STEAL IT)

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

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! It ends on April 28th!

 

 

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Aviaq Johnston

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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:

Wade Albert White Prize Pack – a copy of THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO TREASURE (AND HOW TO STEAL IT)

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!

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Sarah Everett

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Sarah Everett!

         Sarah Everett is the author of NO ONE HERE IS LONELY and EVERYONE WE’VE BEEN, both from Penguin Random House/Knopf. When she is not writing, she can be found reading, exploring her love of science, or watching tennis. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

NO ONE HERE IS LONELY is about eighteen-year-old Eden, who is dealing with a lot of changes in her life. She’s graduating from high school, her best friend seems to be leaving her behind and her family is falling apart. To cope, she turns to Will, an artificially intelligent version of her longtime crush, who has recently passed away.

What are you reading right now?

I’m on a nonfiction kick at the moment. I just finished reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

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

Courtney Summers writes exactly the gritty powerful type of fiction I love, and I’ve been following her career for years. Happily, she’s been getting a lot of attention recently for her New York Times bestseller, Sadie! Another new-to-me author I’ve recently discovered and would like more people to discover is Alice Kuipers.

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

Probably the most surprising thing so far has been discovering that writing is such a small part of publishing a book. There’s so much else that goes into publication: from edits to publicity, cover design to copy editing – it really takes a village to publish a book and I’ve been lucky to work with some wonderful people along the way.

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

Flawed characters, complicated family dynamics and a sweet love story.

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

Snow! The winter in Everyone We’ve Been was inspired by our frigid, snowy Albertan winters. My first drafts also tend to be littered with plenty of u’s. Humour, colour, honour. But alas, since I write for an American publisher, most of those never make it into the final drafts. 😀

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

I’d like to see more fiction (and a wide range of fiction) for and by people of colour. Seeing yourself reflected in fiction is so important. Especially as a young person, it affirms the fact that your story, your experiences and your truths are valid, and I’d love to see more young people discover themselves in books.

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

I’d love to spend a day in the world of Carlos Ruiz Safron’s The Shadow of the Wind series because it is so atmospheric and interesting. I’d love to meet so many of the characters in that series.

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

My best kick-butt life and writing advice is to be brave. Take risks, try things, fail spectacularly and keep going – always keep going.

Yes, always! Thank you so much for joining us, Sarah!

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

Connect with Sarah on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website.

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!

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

No One Here Is Lonely

Other available prizes:

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 Sunday, April 14th when we chat with illustrator, Qin Leng!

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Nafiza Azad

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Nafiza Azad!

Nafiza Azad is a self-identified island girl. She has hurricanes in her blood and dreams of a time she can exist solely on mangoes and pineapple. Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she currently resides in BC, Canada where she reads too many books, watches too many Kdramas and writes stories about girls taking over the world. Her debut YA fantasy, THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME, will be released by Scholastic in 2019. 

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME is about Fatima who lives in the City of Noor, a city that lies on the border of a forest and a desert. Her life is changed when she witnesses the untimely death of her mentor, a djinni by the name of Firdaus. She finds out truths about her true self and the world in which she lives. She also discovers the importance of names and her connection to these names and the djinni who rule half of the country and the city she lives in.

As her city and her home is threatened by enemy djinn, Fatima finds herself facing a choice which could save everything and everyone she loves but that will, perhaps, damn her.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading so many things at this moment. Let me tell you about them!

I’m reading WICKED FOX by Kat Cho and THE WAKING FOREST by Alyssa Wees. Both are 2019 debuts and amazing. I am also reading THE WICKED KING by Holly Black and omg, do I even need to say anything about this one? MY NAME IS RED by Orhan Pamuk and I am enjoying how textured the prose is. THE ICARUS GIRL by Helen Oyeyemi and her prose is so beautiful. THE BOOK OF DISQUIET by Fernando Pessoa and I can’t really articulate how beautiful this book is. I am also really enjoying THE BLACK KHAN by Ausma Zehanat Khan and TOO MUCH AND NOT THE MOOD by Durga Chew-Bose.

I read many books at the same time because writing makes it difficult to read consistently so I take sips of beautiful prose here and there and keep myself rejuvenated.

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

Ishara Deen. She wrote GOD SMITES AND OTHER MUSLIM GIRL PROBLEMS. I believe it was self-published. I read it and I adored it because 1. it’s funny and 2. it is an excellent representation of what Muslim (female) teenagers go through as they try to navigate adolescence and high school.

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

Selling my story! It happened so quickly. Within one week, if I am remembering correctly. Two months of submission with no news and only rejections and then it sold in a blink. That was the nicest kind of surprise.

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

A strong female cast. When I say strong females I don’t mean women who know how to fight physically necessarily. I mean women who value sisterhood and are feminist. I will also probably always have themes of identity as that is something I, too, struggle with.

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

Noor is extremely diverse and multicultural. It’s a haven for refugees and the streets resound with a hundred different languages. The Canada I live in and love accepts people regardless of their religion, race, and sexual identity. The City of Noor is the same.

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

My experience with Can Lit has been less than stellar to be honest. If I am Canadian, how come my experiences are nowhere to be seen in CanLit? If the literature of a country can be said to be reflective of the national identity of a country, what kind of identity would kid CanLit reflect? Are the stories diverse enough? Are the voices being championed diverse enough? I feel like we are moving in the right direction but I also feel like we can do more. To be completely honest, I am not as familiar with CanLit as I should be and that’s something I need to correct. I have never felt that I belonged among the kid CanLit voices and perhaps I need to change that by being more aware.

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

This may be cheating but I spent so much time creating Noor City for THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME that if I could, I would spend some time walking its streets and soaking up the atmosphere of a city halved by forest and desert. The music, the food, the chaos, all of these things are so vibrant in my mind, I would love to experience them firsthand.

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

If you are an aspiring writer, I will tell you three things that have worked for me.

1. Read. As much as you can and as widely as you can.

2. Write as much as you can and in as many styles and genres as you can. Experiment with your voice. Try writing poetry, plays, prose. Don’t stop writing.

3. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t. This does not mean don’t listen to constructive criticism. You definitely should learn to take solid writing advice but don’t listen to anyone tell you don’t have talent and you can’t. Writing can be improved by practice and learning. It requires a little bit of talent but more than talent, it requires sheer bull-headedness and a refusal to give up. So, you can do it. Strive on.

Strive on. Yes! I want that on my wall! Thank you so much for joining us, Nafiza!

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

Connect with Nafiza on 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!

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

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Other available prizes:

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 Monday, April 5th when we chat with author/illustrator, Cale Atkinson!

 

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Melanie Florence

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Melanie Florence!

Melanie Florence is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, was a 2017 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award finalist and was given a starred review by Kirkus, who listed it as one of the best picture books of 2017 to give readers strength. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway.

In her spare time, Melanie watches Doctor Who and Harry Potter with her daughter, discusses the DC vs Marvel Universes with her son and makes her husband sit through scary movies with her. She shares her home with her family, their two dogs (Henry and Daisy), two cats (Shadow and Oreo) and a backyard that seems to constantly attract wildlife.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

I’ve got two books coming out this year. Sort of. My picture book, Stolen Words is being released in Cree (kimotinâniwiw itwêwina), which is so exciting to me.

And I have a YA novel coming out at the same time called Just Lucky. “Fifteen-year-old Lucky loves her grandparents. True, her grandmother forgets things… like turning off the stove, or Lucky’s name. But her grandfather takes such good care of them that Lucky doesn’t realize how bad things are—until she loses her grandfather and is left caring for her grandmother on her own.

When her grandma sets the kitchen on fire, Lucky can’t hide what’s happening any longer, and she is sent into foster care. She quickly learns that some foster families are okay. Some aren’t. And some really, really aren’t. But none of these places is home.”

What are you reading right now?

I literally have piles of books all over my house and studio. But I just started When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and am LOVING it! I recently read The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands and am excited to read the next one!

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

Oh man. This is impossible to answer. I have so many Canadian authors and illustrators that I love. Hmm. A short-ish list? Definitely The Fan Brothers, Robin Stevenson, David Alexander Robertson, Richard van Camp, Jeremy Tankard, Kevin Sylvester, Karen Krossing, Teresa Toten, Kevin Sands … I have so many I’d love to list but in the interest of keeping this short, I’ll leave it at that. OH! And Kenneth Oppel. And Sydney Smith. Okay. I’ll stop. Wait…Gabrielle Grimard too. And I can’t believe I almost forgot the amazing Heather Smith!

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

That people keep letting me write books? I’m kidding. Sort of. I’m not sure how to answer that. I think it will always be an amazing surprise when someone tells me they love one of my books. We work in such isolation that I think creators sometimes forget there’s an actual audience out there.

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

That’s a tough one. Ummm…I don’t know. I’m pretty good with dialogue. So I try to include clever dialogue that is genuine and sounds realistically like a kid or teen. I can tell you what they’ll never find. I will never have an adult swoop in to save the day. I hated reading books like that when I was a kid. So I like to write strong kids, particularly girls, who save themselves or solve the problem or whatever.

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

I have no idea. Probably the first Inuk to play in the NHL.

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

Diversity. Inclusion. But I’d like us to get to the point where it’s not unusual to see diverse characters.

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

Harry Potter for sure. Any of them. I’d spend the day at Hogwarts. Until then, I’ll keep visiting Universal Studios and pretending I’m there.

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

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you want to write, then go out and write. And if you want to write, READ. Read Canadian authors!

Yes! Read all the books! Thank you for joining us, Melanie!

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

Connect with Melanie on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website!

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!

Melanie Florence Prize Pack – an ARC of JUST LUCKY

Just Lucky

Other available prizes:

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 Friday, April 5th when we chat with author, Nafiza Azad!

 

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Natasha Deen

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Natasha Deen!

Award-winning author Natasha Deen spent the first part of her life in Guyana, then her family moved to Calgary, Alberta. She found this terribly exciting until her first minus-forty-degree winter day, at which point she began to question the sanity of the grown-ups around her. Natasha currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and pets, and regularly entices the muses to her office with offers of cupcakes and tea.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

What are you reading right now?

If you’re looking for a fun read, then try “The Manic Pix Dream Boy Improvement Project,” by Lenore Appelhans. ^_^

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

There are so many I couldn’t even begin to name one!

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

For me, the most surprising part of my journey is that it gets more difficult with every book. When I first started writing, I figured by my third or fifth book, I’d have a handle on voice, character, tone, etc., but the more I write, the more I realize what an incredible & amazing thing it is to write a story. It becomes more difficult each time because I want to do right by both the story and the reader.

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

Based on reader feedback, I’d say folks can expect fun characters & character interaction, lots of humour, and some kind of happy ending (it probably won’t be a Hollywood happy ending, but there will be some type of positive-ish resolution).

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

Poutine!!

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

I think Canadian children’s literature rocks and I’d just like to see more of it!

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

Any book where the character gets to sit down to some kind of yummy feast, that’s the book and the scene I’d pick.

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

It’s okay.

It’s okay if some days are difficult, it’s okay if sometimes you try and fail, it’s okay if you do your very best and you still have your heart broken. The path of a hero isn’t smooth or easy, it’s full of rough patches and dark moments. So if you’re ever struggling, just remember, you’re the hero of your story and it’ll get better. Give yourself some self-care, a hug, and after you’ve rested, continue on. You deserve your happy ending. ^_^

Yes, yes, yes! Thank you so much for joining us, Natasha!

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

Connect with Natasha on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or through her website!

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!

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

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Other available prizes:

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 Monday, April 1st when we chat with author, Erin Bow!

KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Tanaz Bhathena

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Tanaz Bhathena!

Tanaz Bhathena is the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Girl Like That, which received two starred reviews. Shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, it was also a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, a Quill & Quire Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book for Teens, and a New York Public Library Notable Best Book for Teens. Her second book, The Beauty of the Moment released Feb 26, 2019. Tanaz lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with her family.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

My latest book, The Beauty of the Moment, releases on Feb 26, 2019. Set in Mississauga, it’s loosely based off my own experience of immigrating as an Indian teen from Saudi Arabia to Canada. The story’s protagonist, Susan, faces all sorts of challenges trying to fit into a new school in a completely different country. She also needs to figure out if she wants to be a doctor or engineer (the way her parents want her to) or pursue her dreams of being a cartoonist.

What are you reading right now? 

Dune by Frank Herbert and Once a King by Erin Summerill.

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

David Chariandy, whose book Brother took my breath away and broke my heart. I also love Nadia Hohn and SK Ali.

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

The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in the two years that it takes to produce a book.

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

A fierce girl and a loveable boy.

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

Probably setting the whole of The Beauty of the Moment in Canada—that too in the city I grew up in (instead of picking Toronto or a city in the US). To me, being Canadian has always meant being myself—and being accepted in spite of my differences. I’ve always felt accepted in Mississauga, which is a cosmopolitan city with a population of over 720,000 people from many different walks of life.

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

I would love to see even more diverse stories in Canadian KidLit, especially #ownvoices stories. We have authors who are doing this—two great resources are FOLD Canada http://thefoldcanada.org/ and Rethinking Diversity in CanLit: https://diversityincanlit.wordpress.com/

But it’s only the beginning and I feel there is potential to bring forth a lot more stories.

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

At the moment, any book that’s set in medieval or Vedic India.

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

Talent will get you far, but persistence will get you further.

Exactly! Thank you so much for joining us, Tanaz!

 

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

Connect with Tanaz on Instagram or through her website!

 

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!

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

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Other available prizes:

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 Wednesday, March 27th when we chat with illustrator, Charlene Chua!