Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Teva Harrison

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Teva Harrison is a writer and graphic artist. She is the author of the critically acclaimed graphic memoir, In-Between Days, which is based on her graphic series about living with cancer published in The Walrus. It was named one of the most anticipated books of 2016 by the Globe and Mail, which also named the author one of 16 Torontonians to Watch. She has commented on CBC Radio and in the Globe and Mail about her experience. Numerous health organizations have invited her to speak publicly on behalf of the metastatic cancer community. She lives in Toronto.

You can write to Teva throughout June 2016 at writer@openbooktoronto.com

The Proust Questionnaire, with Teva Harrison

Teva Harrison's unique and powerful graphic memoir In-Between Days (House of Anansi) has been making waves since before it was even published. It began its life as a popular comic series on The Walrus magazine's website, as Teva explored her experience of being diagnosed with cancer at age 37 through her gorgeous, quirky, insightful comics. When it was announced that Teva would be adapting the comics into a book length work fleshed out with essays about her experiences, publications scrambled to add the book to "most anticipated" lists on the strength of Teva's raw voice, irresistible wit, and indomitable spirit.

In-Between Days

By Teva Harrison

From House of Anansi:

Teva Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the age of 37. In this brilliant and inspiring graphic memoir, she documents through comic illustration and short personal essays what it means to live with the disease. She confronts with heartbreaking honesty the crises of identity that cancer brings: a lifelong vegetarian, Teva agrees to use experimental drugs that have been tested on animals. She struggles to reconcile her long-term goals with an uncertain future, balancing the innate sadness of cancer with everyday acts of hope and wonder. She also examines those quiet moments of helplessness and loving with her husband, her family, and her friends, while they all adjust to the new normal.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

The many colours of Kamal Al-Solaylee

 

Kamal Al-Solaylee wrote an amazing book called Brown. It's essential reading and its subtitle, What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), says why you need to read it much more concisely and elegantly than I could. This interview is not about that.

Audio: A walk around Niven Lake with Craig Davidson

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In Yellowknife, in June, the sun is glorious. The light is sharp and clear and even when it fades to twilight, it never goes away. Days are long and sprawling and full. 

I had the pleasure of being a guest of the NorthWords Festival, touching in on the marvelous northern writers and readers community. There's an amazing bookstore The Book Cellar that feels like the hub. There are parties that start at midnight on houseboats on The Great Slave Lake. You can learn line dancing from locals at The Gold Range.

Comic: What did Ben McNally do when he wasn't selling books?

I must have met Ben McNally weeks after moving to Canada. The details are a little fuzzy on when that was. It might have been at Harbourfront for IFOA, or maybe at Nicholas Hoare, where he was selling books when I rolled into town.

There's something I can't quite pin down, equal parts shared hippy values, a certain sense of humour, a depth of kindness that spills out of his eyes – it's a delight to know Ben. I feel like I've known him much longer than I have.

Finding a connection like that when you move to a new country, like I did, is a gift. It makes a city feel like home faster. It means the world.

What thrills Amy Stuart?

As suddenly as the publication of my first book made me a writer, I started to see Amy Stuart everywhere, which was such a great stroke of luck for me.

She's warm and quick and smart. She listens so closely that you feel like you're the only thing worthwhile going on within earshot.

Every time I meet her, I find myself liking her better. I learn more about how engaged she is in living with integrity and passion and personal truth.

I don't usually read thrillers, but I liked Amy so much that I wanted to read her book, Still Mine. It was clever, with just enough twists, cinematic, and (yes) thrilling.

Working at home: the fine line between distraction and productivity

I have learned that it's not unusual in that I like to listen to podcasts while I draw comics. Those of us who work on things alone much of the time have tricks to feel less isolated. Music, podcasts, pets, maybe even houseplants or a garden, or both – these can be distractions, tools to help channel productivity, or gifts that make us feel less alone. 

Love song for my bicycle

It’s hot. Summer settles heavily on Toronto. The air is thick. It wraps itself around me like a salamander skin.

Walking becomes a waking slow dream. Swimming without any of the freedom of kicking off the lip of the pool. I crawl from one air conditioned oasis to another, sweat circles forming at my folds, where my clothes catch and nest.

That is, unless I ride my bike. The bike cuts through the thick air like a sharpened blade. I create my own cooling wind. I push forward, leaning into the bike and its manufactured breeze.

Q&A: Where life, art, childhood, and Nadia Bozak intersect

Always trust your editor, she reads your words, your inner thoughts – she knows you well. That’s why, when my editor handed me a copy of Nadia Bozak’s newest book, Thirteen Shells, (“I don’t know, I think you’ll like it. You two have a lot in common...”) I knew I should read it right away.   

She was right, of course. I did like it. Nadia writes beautifully and she’s not shy about awkward moments. Awkward interactions, messy thoughts, the matter of learning to live – these are a few of my favourite things. The stories felt very true to me. 

Social media magic, with Neil Wadhwa

I met Neil Wadhwa, who is digital marketing manager for House of Anansi Press & Groundwood Books, when my book was written, edited and it was time to release it out into the wild. Scary times for a first-time author. Neil is passionate about books, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He’s a very creative marketer, approaching campaigns from all sides, looking for the best approach to really showcase the books he’s promoting. 

A poet, a novelist and a toddler enter a room

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be one of those literary power couples, talent just oozing from their pores, words pouring from their pens, seemingly effortlessly? Meaghan Strimas & Nathan Whitlock are both exceptionally good company, witty, delightful, ready with witty banter, and damned fine writers. 

I was curious about how much they influence each other, in craft, especially because Nathan writes novels and Meaghan writes poetry. They were kind enough to to take some time to think about my questions, somewhere between caring for their kids and Nathan’s treatment for cancer. Because these two are unstoppable. 

A Few of Brian Morgan's Favourite Things

When I first showed up at The Walrus with my fussy little comics, drawn with my fidgety little markers, all Brian Morgan, art director extraordinaire, did was smile kindly.

The next time I saw him, though, I was going to get an education. He pulled together the tools and information I desperately needed to start learning about in order to improve my work. Nearly every tool I now use to produce comics came from that lesson, or a subsequent one.

Smoky Garden Songs - a playlist for writing

So much of writing is creating the right mood, the right place. Do you need absolute silence? Do you like a bustling coffee shop?

Well, I asked Damian Rogers, whose recent book of poetry Dear Leader blew me away with its emotional truth and resonance (not to mention, it's been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award), and who also has excellent taste in music, if she would create a playlist for writing.

Thus Smoky Garden Songs were born.

This is music that will transport you. Either you will write up a storm or you will be kickstarted into living a more poetic life. Then you can write about that. 

A perfect dinner party is just like a good book

A perfect dinner party is just like a good book

So you wrote a book. Amazing! Ready or not, it’s now time to be among people. It’s very possible that you are going to have to plan events. You’re also going to be meeting a lot of amazing people you’ll want to get to know. A dinner party is a wonderful place to practice throwing events and get to know your shiny new literary friends.

I sat down with the gorgeously charming consummate host Shelley Ambrose, publisher of The Walrus magazine and executive director of the Walrus Foundation to talk about how to throw a perfect dinner party.

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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