Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Pj Kwong

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Pj Kwong is a figure skating expert and writer currently (happily) working as a freelancer for CBC Sports. A television commentator since 2001, the veteran figure skating coach has covered eight of the last ten World Figure Skating Championships, most Four Continents and Grand Prix Finals, primarily for CBC, although also for other Canadian networks and many networks in Asia as well. As a PA announcer, she has worked at the last five Olympic Games, many international skating and other sport events as well as at the Toronto site for the 2007 FIFA U-20 Men's World Cup. For the third time in as many Winter Olympic Games, she was the bilingual voice of the figure skating competition at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. She is eagerly anticipating the release of her first book, Taking the Ice: Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating, due out in September of 2010. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Pj lives in Toronto, Ontario with a (long-suffering) family that includes her three mostly-grown children and two dogs.

Pj Kwong's website is www.pjkwong.com and you can find her blog at apps.pjkwong.com/blog
Read more about her book, Taking the Ice at www.takingtheice.com
Send your questions and comments for Pj Kwong to writer@openbooktoronto.com

Ten Questions with Pj Kwong

Open Book: Toronto:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

Pj Kwong:

I have been writing my whole life without ever thinking of it as a way of making a living. My first publication would have been in a 6th grade newsletter.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

Taking the Ice: Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating

By Pj Kwong

Canada’s strength as a figure skating nation is as a result of not only exceptional talent but a group of skaters and coaches who have been willing to take risks and to be part of the continuous re-definition of the sport and what is thought of as possible. From the creation of innovative moves and styles to the re-vamping of a judging system, Canada has paved the way. This book is about some of the sport’s mavericks.

For more information about Taking the Ice, please visit the BookLand Press website.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

A Book Launch Tale - Taking The Ice - Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating

Well...although it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like the launch was just yesterday for my first book Taking the Ice - Success Stories from The World of Canadian Figure Skating. (www.takingtheice.com)

A Dream Come True

On a recent Friday morning, my publisher Robert Morgan of BookLand Press and I had the good fortune to pay a visit to Webcom Inc. to watch my book Taking the Ice roll off the line. I cannot tell you what a thrill it was and have the good people there to thank for the amazing tour.

Just One More Thing Before I Go....

This is my final day as WIR for Open Book Toronto and I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed the experience!

Before I go, I want to make mention of a new book coming out from BookLand Press called ‘Canadian Voices, Volume 2’. It is an anthology comprising the work of 86 authors from across Canada. What I really like about it is the fact that it not only contains the work of established writers like Jasmine D’Costa it also showcases the work of brand new authors.

Writers and Writing - Randy Starkman

For those of you involved in or aware of the world of sports, especially in Toronto,you will likely be well acquainted with the name Randy Starkman. Aside from working as a sports journalist responsible for the Olympic sports' beat for The Toronto Star, he is also an author with three books to his credit.
A Toronto native, Randy started out in the journalism program at Ryerson but left it in his second year when he was offered a full-time position at United Press Canada where he had been covering sports on the weekends part-time.

New Under the Sun

New Under the Sun was the third of the three books that I decided I would read and write about as part of my term as WIR for Open Book Toronto. The author is Newfoundlander and Governor General’s Literary Award Winner, Kevin Major whose passion for his home province is relayed in every word. This was a book I could really sink my teeth into. It offers the reader the chance to uncover the many layers of a place through the eyes of characters situated at different points in history.

The Power of One

It’s funny that a conversation on Skype this morning with one of the 2 daughters I have travelling in Africa would so clearly bring into focus something I have been thinking of since yesterday.

Only on Elizabeth Street

I have spent more than my fair share of time in hospitals with my Mom who is a "repeat offender" (her term) in the cancer department. Back at the hospital yesterday, we shared with our nurses an episode from one of our medical adventures that took place in the not too distant past. My mother has always maintained that laughter is the best medicine - she should know.

“Take one tablet and if you vomit within an hour, take another tablet.” I am paraphrasing but only a little.

What kind of craziness is this? I mean: as if having cancer and chemo weren’t bad enough, it is suggested on official instructions for your prescription medication that you take another run at a pill that has made you barf your brains out once already!

Understanding the Message with Braden Wright

It was a chance meeting and a casual conversation about promotion that gave me the idea to contact Braden Wright for this piece. The Toronto native has spent the last 16 years in Los Angeles working in and around Hollywood in a number of different ways. He is perhaps best known for his work as the Unit Publicist for 24 feature films. His first movie, which he says was a fantastic experience, was the Academy Award winning film Moonstruck starring Cher and Nicholas Cage. Nothing like starting at the top of your field! He also spent 10 years with the Disney Company as a photo editor.

Is it Worth it?

Deciding to head to the cottage on this past Monday afternoon wasn’t ever the problem, making it happen was the tricky part. My oldest friend in the world, Debbie, tries to convince me every year of the benefits of spending a few days at her cottage. She always starts out by saying “You need a break and being up at the cottage would be the perfect escape.” Sounds good in theory, but theory is all it ever is.

We have known each other since childhood and have been in almost daily contact for the last 30 years or so. As such, there are no secrets – including the fact that I would never be mistaken for “outdoorsy”.

Writing and Writers and the Process - Paul Dore

Paul Dore is a Toronto area writer whose name you might not have heard yet – but you will. I sat down with him recently to talk about writing and what has inspired him to continue to move towards publishing his first novel.

Writing and Writers - G. Malcolm Kelly

At first glance, what you notice about Malcolm Kelly is his energy. On closer inspection, what strikes me is his thoughtful intelligence, his passion for his work and his determination to be clearly understood. That particular skill comes in handy for the man who not only works as a writer for CBC Sports but who is the Program Coordinator for the Sports Journalism Graduate program at Centennial College in Toronto.

Intrigued by the path that brought him to 4 published books, I sat down with him to have a chat.

If it's August - It's Taking the Ice Time

I have been spending time this weekend at the Figure Skating Boutique’s Thornhill Summer Competition in an arena complex just north of Toronto. It is a competition that has been around for a very long time (I competed in it!) and went through a variety of locations before landing in Thornhill at the Community Centre.

Behind The Altar

One of my book choices for this WIR term, was Behind The Altar – Secrets of a Minister’s Daughter written by L. Lisa Bodnarchuk and published by General Store Publishing House.

Not sure what to expect, I took the cue from the tail end of her introduction where she says: “Nurture your children. Do not use them. They are not responsible for your success or failure.
If you are planning on having children, heed the messages interwoven into my stories. If you have already brought up your children and identify with my stories, try to make peace with them before it is too late.”

Writing and Writers - Sarah Pashagumskum

As I have been reading over the course of the last 2 weeks, it has started me thinking a lot more about writing. You see, I am not much of a "planner" - I am much more of a "doer". I like to think of myself as a "human living" rather than a "human being." It seems there are as many ways to approach writing as there are writers.

The Butterfly Mosque

I decided when I was offered the opportunity to be the WIR for Open Book Toronto, that I would take a look at some books that I normally wouldn't have thought to. The Butterfly Mosque by Willow Wilson is one of those books.

Initially I was interested by the synopsis wherein a young (American) woman comes to a conclusion slowly that she would like to convert to Islam and when an opportunity comes up for her to move to Cairo, Egypt after graduation from University, she jumps at it. She comes to feel at home, meets the man she will marry and eventually formalizes her conversion.

I am a Language Nerd :)

It's true; I am a Language Nerd (LN) and proud of it. My mother will tell you that I have always been fascinated by words and word play. What I will tell you is stay away from my mother unless you want to hear a whole lot more than that....but I digress.

Diversity and the case for Chinese Grandmas

For those of you who do not know me, I am a city girl. I often talk about the fact that if it "has chlorine and concrete" I am going to like it. I know I should be saying how much 'I love the outdoors', but I don't. The good news is at my age and stage(read mature), I get to say what I want especially when it's about me.
I love nothing more than having some time to wander around a city and my home town of Toronto is one of my favourites. It's not like I don't have a lot of cities to compare it to, I do, and it still comes out on top. My reason is clear, I appreciate diversity.
From one end of the city to the other we have the chance to be able to capture moments in other cultures, languages and ideas in untold numbers of neighbourhoods.

I'm Here! (Now...where is that exactly?!)

Hi OBers!
I have a couple of things I would like to let you know: first of all, I "borrowed" 'OBers' from Thom Vernon, the July WIR, whose blog I followed last month. Basically, although I was thrilled to be approached to be the Open Book Toronto, WIR, I didn't really know what I should be doing or what to expect. So....under the cover of darkness and by the hum of my necessary but very unPC AC, I followed along with Thom on his WIR journey to try and be prepared. Sadly, I am not as much prepared as I am richer for the experience: Thom's month of WIRness is a tough act to follow!

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.

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