Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Erin Thomas

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Erin Thomas (Photo credit Neil Kinnear and Lesley Chung)

When aspiring magician Alex finds a sponsor to support him for the Silver Stage Magic Competition, it seems like a dream come true. But when he finds out Jack, his sponsor and an acclaimed slight of hand expert, wants him to partner with Zoe, Alex's rival, he's shocked. Sharing the spotlight was not exactly Alex's goal.

So begins Forcing the Ace (Orca Book Publishers), a fast-paced novel for young readers by Erin Thomas. Orca's Limelight line (which includes Forcing the Ace) features action-packed narratives about the performing arts and is specifically geared towards reluctant readers. Alex's story is relatable and entertaining, with readers racing to find out whether Alex and Zoe's partnership will be disastrous or as close to real magic as it comes.

Today Erin joins us to take on the The WAR Series: Writers As Readers questionnaire, which gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

She tells Open Book about raiding her dad's bookshelf, the writer who taught her a short novel can hit as heavy as a weighty tome and the classic children's book on her nightstand these days.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:

The Velveteen Rabbit.

A book that made me cry:

Also The Velveteen Rabbit.

The first adult book I read:

Dad was (still is) a fantasy/sci-fi addict, so when I had finished with all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden novels in the house, I headed to his bookshelves. The first adult book I read was probably something by André Norton, although I remember devouring David Eddings’ The Belgariad. I would carry around whichever one I was reading as well as the next one in the series, just in case I ran out of pages.

A book that made me laugh out loud:

Most recently The Martian by Andy Weir. The narrator has a wonderfully dark sense of humour.

The book I have re-read many times:

Persuasion by Jane Austen.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:

Any of the Russian masterpieces — Anna Karenina, for starters.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:

Oh, that’s a tough one. At the time, if I remember right, I was deep in the middle of a love affair with Les Misérables and A Tale of Two Cities, and it’s pretty hard to compete with those. Maybe I’d give my seventeen-year-old self a book on writing craft, one of the ones that I was going to come to love later on, to plant the idea that writing is something that can be learned.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:

Back, by Norah McClintock. It’s an Orca Soundings book, meant for reluctant readers, less than 14,000 words long. Many of the books I’ve written have been for reluctant readers, and this one is a great example of how a short story can pack a big punch. It stayed with me after I read it; Norah’s writing reminds me not to underestimate the readers, or the genre.

I love Kenneth Oppel’s books, too — great voice and worldbuilding, and storytelling that works on multiple levels.

The best book I read in the past six months:

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.

The book I plan on reading next:

I just started reading Watership Down the other day. It’s another one that could have gone on my books-I-should-have-read-but-haven’t list.

A possible title for my autobiography:

Memoirs of a Bookworm? Don’t Read and Walk?

Erin ThomasX

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