Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

An Interview with Sharon Jennings

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Sharon Jennings is a multi-published children’s author living in Toronto. For a full bio and a list of her books, you can visit her website here: www.sharonjennings.ca

Read on to see what Sharon says about her background, why she writes for children, and why the absence of a routine works for her!

Why did you want to become a writer?

I never ‘wanted’ to become a writer: I gradually became aware that I was fascinated with story structure, had always been a voracious reader, and that I had stories to tell. I had a Master’s in English literature and had worked as an editor for many years. When I had my three children, I put it all together and began writing for kids.

What led you to the children’s book genre?

When I became a mother and started reading to my children, I remembered all the books that I had read as a child and, as well, all the bits of writing I had done and the plays put on in the backyard. As an editor in a primary language arts program, I was keenly aware of how important books are for children. I soon realized that my voice matched the young child’s and that I could create stories that ‘spoke’ to them.

What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

My favourite book is Home Free. I had never tried writing a novel and so it took me a long time to gather up my courage and plunge in. I found that I was using many memories from my childhood in order to create Leanna Mets who desperately wants to be an orphan and a writer (like Anne of Green Gables). Her father dies when she is eleven (I was sixteen) and suddenly the book became very spiritual as Leanna tries to understand her connection to the universe. The book was nominated for many awards, including the children’s choice award “Silver Birch”. I was so moved when hundreds of kids told me how much they loved Home Free.

Tell us about your writing routine.

Huh? Routine? I am a very disorganized writer. Many of my colleagues tell me how hard writing is but they sit at their desks for a certain number of hours every day even if they write only two lines. I love writing and avoid it! But when I get an idea, then I can’t stop. I will write for days and days, forgetting to eat, staying up too late. I only stop when I run out of ideas. Then I avoid my desk for weeks until, without realizing what is happening, I fill up the well and can write again. This is not a good method, but it works for me.

Are you working on anything right now?

(See above!) But yes. I have written a sequel to Home Free and am working on a third. (At the moment I am avoiding working on the third.) I have finished a massive fantasy-ish manuscript and a picture book as well. I’ve sent them out and am waiting (and waiting) to hear back. In this business, even if you have been published many times, you still have to go through the process of being accepted again and again.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page