Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Sharon E. McKay

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Sharon E. McKay

Sharon E. McKay is a young adult author who splits her time between PEI and Ontario. Her books include Thunder Over Kandahar, War Brothers and, most recently, Enemy Territory.

Today we hear Sharon's version of the Open Book Dirty Dozen, an interview with a twist that allows authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Read on to hear from Sharon about soap operas, the colour of music and some very lively Irishmen.

  1. One summer I was arrested twice in Belfast, Northern Ireland, along with my three uncles, ages 67, 68 and 70. I was 12 years old at the time. We were given tea and biscuits.
  2. Speaking of uncles, I left my uncle’s leg on the road in a small village on the Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland. I had to go back and get it. Someone had picked it up and taken the leg (made of tin, wood and leather) into a nearby pub. It was propped up on a chair. There was a beer in front of it. I put all the money I had on the table, took the leg (it was heavy) and left. Apparently it was a good crack. I was 14 years old.
  3. I convinced my three, very senior, Irish uncles that I was “allowed” to drink beer in Canada. I was 15. I got drunk. Appalled, my Aunt June beat them up with a broom. I was sick the next day. Throwing myself over the cliff into the Giant’s Causeway on the Antrim Coast (a kilometer from the house) seemed like a sensible plan.
  4. I watch the Y&R, but don’t tell anyone. (I am sick to death of Victor. How old is that guy?)
  5. I have “synesthesia.” When I hear music, I see colors. It doesn’t happen often, maybe once or twice a year. The music is always live classical and usually played on the violin or cello. The colors are always primary, white, blue, red. When I was much younger, it scared me. I was in my late thirties before I told anyone. My youngest son occasionally sees colors when listening to music too. I also feel the alphabet, mostly in my mouth and mostly the letters O,B, Q and H. Creepy weird.
  6. I have walked through a Taliban infested village in Afghanistan, crossed open land where Kony and his murderous LRA are known to frequent, stayed in the West Bank, driven on The Falls and The Shankill Roads at night in Belfast during the very worst of The Troubles and felt no fear. I have driven on the best and worst roads all over eastern and western Europe. The 401 in Toronto is another story. I take an anxiety pill at the end of it — and I am a very good driver. Go figure.
  7. I have never dyed my hair. No one believes me. Enough already.
  8. My favorite quote is, “When you are going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill.
  9. Here’s what I know for sure:
    No one has a perfect life so envy is a total waste of time. There are people I admire but not one I envy.
    — If someone says, “ah come on, everyone smacks their kid once in awhile,” it means that THEY smack their kid.
    — If some says, “Everyone cheats on their taxes,” it means that THEY cheat on their taxes.
    — If someone says, “I never lie,” they just lied.
    — Not everyone is going to like you. Get over it. (Do you like everyone?)
    — The best thing about hard times is that you will find out who your friends are. Priceless.
  10. I am the only young adult writer to be admitted into the War Artist Program (CFAP.) I return to Afghanistan in 2013.
  11. There is a rumor going around that I am Robert Munsch. No, I am not.
  12. The best recipe for Caesar Salad EVER!
    (And don’t give me a hard time about the raw egg yoke. My son was raised on four raw eggs a day and he’s still alive! )
  13. 1 can of anchovies smashed into bits, or 2 T. of the stuff in a tube.
    1 egg yoke
    4 T best mayo you can find
    2 to 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
    2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce
    1 t. powered mustard
    4 to 5 T. of crumbled Blue Cheese.
    Olive Oil as needed to make it yummy.

    Now fork it all to death. Drink wine while doing it, unless you are underage. Add more olive oil.

    Romaine lettuce
    Onions, sliced super thin
    Mushrooms
    Pepper (always fresh ground)
    A sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
    Croutons

    OK, forget the egg if you are doing making the dressing a day ahead.

    A masterpiece.

    Apparently I have to stop at twelve. Pity. There’s more.


Sharon E. McKay is a Canadian young adult author. In 2009 Sharon was named as a Canadian War Artist, the first young adult writer to hold the title. Her trip to Afghanistan in 2009 (KAF and Bazaar-E-Panjwayi, Kandahar Province, on the Pakistan border) inspired her to write Thunder over Kandahar.

War Brothers is the story of child soldiers in northern Uganda. To write that story she went to Gulu, Uganda, and interviewed child soldiers. Her latest book, Enemy Territory, addresses the Mideast conflict through the eyes of two teenage boys who learn to trust each other despite coming from opposite sides of the struggle.

For more information about Enemy Territory please visit the Annick Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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