Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Francis Chalifour

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Ten Questions with Francis Chalifour

Francis Chalifour was born and raised in Quebec and now lives in Toronto, where he teaches grades seven and eight. His first published work was the French novel Zoom Papaye. His first novel in English was After, which was shortlisted for a Governor General’s award. He has contributed articles to The Walrus, Maclean’s, Le Devoir, La Presse and Professionally Speaking. His latest novel, Call Me Mimi, is published by Tundra Books.

OB:

Tell us about your young adult novel, Call Me Mimi.

FC:

It’s a book about three teenagers (Mimi, Luc, and Fiona) who were bullied in high school for different reasons (Mimi for her waist line, Luc for his sexual orientation, Fiona for her ethnicity). Luc and Fiona help Mimi find her sperm donor father. What Mimi finds is far more important than anything she could possibly have imagined – her self esteem.

OB:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

FC:

Students from Grade 7 to 12.

OB:

Which writers made a great impression on you when you were a young adult?

FC:

Antoine de St-Exupéry (Le Petit Prince)
Denise Bombardier (Une enfance à l’eau bénite)
Martin Luther King (I Have a Dream)
Roch Carrier (Le Chandail de Hockey)

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

FC:

Very early in the morning (around 6:00 a.m.), I sit in front of my computer in my pajamas, with a glass of orange juice on my desk, and I’m ready to write.

OB:

What was your first publication?

FC:

Méli-Mélo, 1989 (I was 12 year old).

OB:

What are you reading right now?

FC:

Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama
Naissance et essor des Etats-Unis (1607-1945), André Kaspi
Starring Brian Linehan, George Anthony

OB:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

FC:

How to be a Canadian, Will & Ian Ferguson
Les belles-sœurs, Michel Tremblay
Les gens de mon pays, Gilles Vigneault

OB:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

FC:

Observe – Research – Feel

OB:

Describe the most memorable response you’ve received from a reader.

FC:

When one of my Grade 7 students told me how shocked she was when she saw that I wrote a book… because I was her gym teacher… she found it very, very weird!

OB:

What is your next project?

FC:

A young adult book on self-discovery and identity.




Read more about Call Me Mimi by Francis Chalifour at the Tundra Books website.

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