Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

GG Awards Series: The Dirty Dozen with Teresa Toten

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Teresa Toten

Open Book is celebrating the 2013 Governor General's Literary Awards by featuring interviews with the winners. Visit Open Book: Toronto and Open Book: Ontario for more GG interviews in the coming days!

In today's edition of the Open Book Dirty Dozen we're excited to share 12 previously unknown facts about Teresa Toten whose The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Doubleday Canada) impressed the jury. A story of teenage love set in a support group for young people coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the book examines complex modern families against a backdrop of mystery and intrigue. Congratulations, Teresa!

  1. I got my social insurance number when I was 11 years old, the first year (among many) that I worked in the tobacco harvests in Delhi, Ontario.
  2. My favourite food in the world is popcorn. I believe that it is nature’s most perfect food. You got your fibre, you got your vegetable, and you got your dairy. Brilliant right?
  3. When I write, I read out loud as I’m writing. I walk around the house, up and down the stairs, trying out bits of dialogue and commenting on my stuff until it “sounds” kind of right. Needless to say, no one can be in the house with me except my dog who is an exceptionally supportive critic.
  4. It is embarrassing and so not cool, but my two favourite movies of all time are Apocalypse Now and Gone With The Wind.
  5. I am claustrophobic, but I forgot I was until my husband and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago. Never mind the arduous climb or the altitude sickness, by far the hardest part for me was getting into and staying in the darn pup tent! I had to have my miner’s light on all night and both flaps wide open. It gets very, very cold the higher up you climb!
  6. I am one of those scary people who will cry in front of works of art. Certain songs or snatches of music will also bring me to tears. I really should look into that.
  7. I am a volunteer and on the Board of World Literacy Canada, a brilliant organization devoted to bringing literacy to little girls and women in Northern India.
  8. I didn’t know how to type when I first started writing. My friend Margaret typed out the manuscript for my first book The Onlyhouse.
  9. I never took a single English or Creative Writing course in either Undergrad or Grad school. My degrees were in Political Economy. I am still a political junkie to this day.
  10. I do not outline. Yes to my detriment and I have been very hard on myself over the years for not being able to acquire this skill. I’m beginning to accept that I need the “terror” of not knowing what will happen next and how it will all end in order to keep me completely engaged on the page that I’m writing.
  11. I am still friends with my best friends from when I was 10 years old. They’ve kept me close for over forty years because I believe they’re always nervous about what I’m going to write about next.
  12. I believe in Santa.


Teresa Toten is the author of the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as The Game, The Onlyhouse, among other books. Teresa has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Zagreb, Croatia, but left for Canada on that same day, she lives in Toronto.

For more information about The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B please visit the Doubleday Canada 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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