School Visits

Author outside the wonderful Kidsbooks, Vancouver, with the Unicorn window

On another ferry – this one the Queen of Surrey, heading back to Vancouver from BC’s Sunshine Coast. I’ve just spent the day there, speaking at two high schools, Elphinstone and Chaltelech as part of Coast Reads – a kind of Lit Idol, or Canada Reads. My novel for teens, ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ has made the last 8.

It was a terrific time. Between visits I forget the sheer enthusiasm of teens. Sure there are a few too cool to look anything but bored but surprisingly few. Most are keen, on words, on process. They ask great questions about the book and creativity in general. They engage. Its lovely for me too – a bit of performing, reading, the odd joke – but mainly its a chance to re-engage with an old friend, one who obsessed me for a time, but has now been replaced in my passions by the two novels that I’ve written since. I read a bit, open a page at random and am transported back to that old love, those words, that situation, those problems solved, that part of the story honed. People always ask: “Which is the favourite of all your books?” and I can never say. They are all my beloved children – how can I choose between them?

There’s often one student, and usually only one, who is as obsessed as me. Who probably knows the books as well as I do, who is as in love with characters, language, magic. I met one such today, a young lady called Genevieve (pronounced the French way ‘Gen- vieve’). She hugged the trilogy, my Runestone Saga, said she’d read each novel five times, loved them so much. It thrills me, such a contact. I write, in the end, for a single person, not a mass. One reader. Together we make the novel, take the journey. It’s different for them, I try to leave space for them in anything I write, a place for their imagination to occupy beside mine. It’s what make books as an experience superior to any art form, in my opinion. I conjure visions and so does the reader and together and each time, we make something new.

A lovely visit then. Honoured to make the last 8 in great company. (Check out THE LIST) Thrilled to speak to young readers who are keen to explore my world of words. Delighted to have met one of those who totally got it. I write for those like her. Money as well, of course, I need to earn a living. But ultimately, the sight of someone clutching my books as if they are treasure…? Beyond any gold.

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