Guest Post: Susin Nielsen

Author and Blogger, Susin Nielsen, shares with us in this guest post on how she became an author:

How I Got My Start

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In the very first diary I ever kept (I was eleven, and it lasted one week), this is, I kid you not, the opening sentence:

“This is the first day I’ve really written in a diary. The reason I am, is ‘cause I LOVE writing stories, and if I do grow up to be a famous writer, and later die, and they want to get a story of my life, I guess I should keep a diary.”

 Yup. Prescience and arrogance, rolled into one.

Anyway, this is me, reading recently in Edmonton.

But back to the past. My first paid writing gig came along when I was still quite young, in my early 20’s. I’d been hired on a brand-new TV series called Degrassi Junior High, to feed the cast and crew food (a job called “craft services.” Don’t ask me why). This is how the kid actors repaid me in that first season; this poem appeared in a “yearbook” they published:

An ode to Susin, the Bran Muffin Queen,
We eat them,
We die,
Then we turn green.

Thanks, kids.

Anyway, in between first and second season I wrote a “spec” script and showed it to the head writer. Next thing I knew, he and the producer hired me to write my first ever episode of television.

It was really, really, really hard! I was lucky – in the right time at the right place – but I did draft after draft after draft, trying to learn the craft of writing for TV. They were amazingly good to me on Degrassi, and I wound up writing 16 episodes of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. Believe it or not, they were also responsible for giving me my first crack at writing young adult novels: I wrote four books in the Degrassi series: Shane, Wheels, Snake and (my personal favourite) Melanie.

But here’s a little secret that very few people know … for a brief, fleeting period, I was also an ACTOR on Degrassi …

That’s right: I played, in two memorable episodes, Louella Hawkins, the janitor.

Yup. That’s me. Age 22 or so, wielding a wrench or some other tool. In that particular episode the heating was on the fritz in the middle of winter and the kids were boiling hot, and when Joey Jeremiah asked me, “Isn’t it fixed yet Louella?” I got to say, “Good guess, goofball.” In my other episode, Arthur and Yick hide a dog in the boiler room, and when they come to find him, I step out of the shadows holding the dog: “Is this what you’re looking for? Dogs are not allowed in school. You’d better go see Mr. Lawrence.”

It’s a performance both wooden and laughable … Thank goodness I’m a better writer than I am an actor!

CBC Salutes our Award Nominees!

Hannah Sung of CBC Book Club presents the five nominees for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature – Illustration, which included Tundra’s book, Bradley McGogg, The Very Fine Frog by Tim Beiser and Rachel Berman.

Congratulations to Jirina Marton, illustrator of Bella’s Tree, who was announced as the winner in this category on Tuesday, November17th.

Hannah also interviewed Shane Peacock, Susin Nielsen, and Cary Fagan on their books’ nominations for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the biggest prize in Canadian Children’s Lit! We’ll be cheering them on at the ceremony at the Carlu in Toronto this Thursday, November 19th.

Other Tundra authors and books up for awards Thursday evening include:

  • Thing-Thing by Cary Fagan (again!), nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.
  • The Ancient Ocean Blues by Jack Mitchell, nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Sigh. What to do when you have so many nominated books in one evening?!

Vlog courtesy of www.cbc.ca/bookclub

The 2010 OLA Forest of Reading® Nominees

Yesterday, the Ontario Library Association revealed the short-listed nominated titles for the 2010 Forest of Reading®. All nominated titles have been posted to the Reading Program page of the OLA website, which you can visit at http://www.accessola.com/reading.

Tundra would like to congratulate Tim Beiser, Rachel Berman, Cyndi Sand-Eveland, Cary Fagan, Shane Peacock, Jane Drake, Ann Love, Mark Thurman, and Susin Nielsen!

Blue Spruce Award (JK-Grade 2)
Bradley McGoggBradley McGogg
The Very Fine Frog

By Tim Beiser
Illustrated by Rachel Berman
ISBN 978-88776-864-4
Hardcover | 24 Pages
Ages 2-5
“… The rhyming verse is so fresh and the illustrations so full of personality and emotion that we quickly forget the slight premise and simply enjoy Brad’s neighbourhood kitchen crawl.… Tim Beiser does a bang-up job.… Rachel Berman locates this moveable feast in a gentle setting, rural and mildly Edwardian.… The slight contrast between words and pictures creates a delicious tension and a welcoming world for all diners and sojourners.” – Feature Review, Quill & Quire

Silver Birch Award – Express (Grades 2-4)
Dear ToniDear Toni
By Cyndi Sand-Eveland
ISBN 978-88776-876-7
Hardcover | 136 Pages
Ages 8-11
“The novel is written in diary format and peppered with often-humorous sketches depicting the various activities, thoughts, pets, and people that make up Gene’s life. Girls, especially, will relate to the protagonist and feel as if they are reading personal notes from a close friend.” – School Library Journal

Ten Lesson for Kaspar SnitTen Lessons for Kaspar Snit
By Cary Fagan
ISBN 978-88776-835-4
Paperback | 192 Pages
Ages 8-12
“Ten Lessons for Kaspar Snit is full of clever dialogue and comic situations, but it is also an action-packed, inventive, page-turner with several surprises. Much of the humour can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, and the supportive, caring family dynamic of the Galinski-Blande family is pleasing…. The tone of the book is always light, with wisecracks being made even when the action heats up…” – Highly Recommended, CM Magazine

Silver Birch Award – Fiction (Grades 4-6)
Death in the AirDeath in the Air
The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Second Case
By Shane Peacock
ISBN 978-88776-851-4
Hardcover | 264 Pages
Ages 10-14
“In the first novel, we see many of the characteristics of the adult detective being formed through his first exciting adventure. In Death in the Air, this development continues and we get to know young Sherlock even better….This novel is written for the young adult, but adult readers will also find it satisfying. Peacock places demand on the reader, expecting intelligence and curiosity. The fast-paced adventure is a treat.” – The Globe and Mail

Silver Birch Award – Nonfiction (Grades 4-6)
Alien InvadersAlien Invaders
Species that Threaten Our World

By Jane Drake and Ann Love
Illustrated by Mark Thurman
ISBN 978-88776-798-2
Hardcover | 56 Pages
Ages 9-12
“In a clear, informal text, illustrated with handsome color paintings, this intriguing science book discusses particular plants, animals, bacteria, and viruses that humans have, deliberately or accidentally, introduced to a new habitat.” – Booklist

Red Maple Award (Grades 7-8) and Golden Oak Award (Adult Learners)
Word NerdWord Nerd
By Susin Nielsen
ISBN 978-88776-875-0
Hardcover | 256 Pages
Ages 9+
“This is a tender, often funny story with some really interesting characters. It will appeal to word nerds, but even more to anyone who has ever longed for acceptance or had to fight unreasonable parental restrictions.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

The Festival of Trees™ will be taking place on May 12-13, 2010 at the Harbourfront Centre.

CBC presents the TD Kids Bookclub

Tundra would like to thank all the elementary schools in the Greater Vancouver area, the Edmonton area, the Calgary area, Manitoba, the Montreal area and Mainland Nova Scotia for submitting their cheers to CBC.

Congratulations to the winning schools for their TD Kids Book Club cheers:

  • Shawne Chastko’s class from 12th Avenue Elementary School in Burnaby!
  • Adrienne Glover’s grade 3 class from Morley School in Morley, Alberta!
  • The Grade 6 class at Oliver School!
  • Karen Tole-Henderson’s grade 5 class at Shamrock School!
  • Holly Kusiewicz’s grade 5/6 class at Parkdale Elementary in St. Laurent!
  • Ms. Paulette O’Connor’s grade 5/6 class at St. Joseph’s/A. MacKay School!

Stay tuned for details on the TD Kids Book club broadcast in November. Susin Nielsen, author of Word Nerd, will be going to Burnaby and Edmonton for a special broadcast from the winning schools. Shane Peacock, author of Death in the Air, will be going to Halifax for a special broadcast from the winning school.

Word Nerd Thing-Thing Death in the Air

YoungIFOA presents the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award Finalists:

  • Saturday, October 24, 11:00am| Studio Theatre
    A YoungIFOA event for the whole family to enjoy. New this year at IFOA: finalists for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award read from their nominated books. Charlotte Teeple hosts.
  • Saturday, October 24, 1:00pm| Studio Theatre
    TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominees Alma Fullerton, Susin Nielsen and Shane Peacock read from their nominated books in this YoungIFOA event for the whole family.
  • Saturday, October 24, 4:00pm| Studio Theatre
    In partnership with the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award YoungIFOA presents a round table event for the young at heart. TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominees Nicola Campbell, Alma Fullerton, Cary Fagan, Kim LaFave, Susin Nielsen and Shane Peacock talk about children’s literature in the 21st century.