Teen Fest at the Ottawa Public Library

Special to Kitchssippi Times by Sophie O’Reilly – 

On Thursday May 14, the Ottawa Carlingwood Public Library held a Teen Authors Fest event showcasing two of Canada’s most well known teen and young adult fiction authors: Susan Juby and Susin Nielson. Susan Juby is familiar for her book Alice, I Think, which was made into a TV series. Juby has also written a personal memoir as well as many other novels. Nielson is known for her novel The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen for which she won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature in 2012. Nielson has also done some screenwriting for the TV series Degrassi Junior High.

Teen moderator Jesse Hawke with authors Susan Juby and Susin Nielson.
Teen moderator Jesse Hawke with authors Susan Juby and Susin Nielson.

The novels that were showcased in this event were The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, and We are All Molecules by Susin Nielson.

The event was organized by two librarians, Courtney Mellor and Jessica Roy and approximately 25 people of all ages came out to participate. The authors were introduced by two local teen volunteer moderators, Jesse Hawke and Laura Halpenny. Then there was a question and answer period between the authors, moderators and audience. Some of the questions were also tweeted out through the Ottawa Carlingwood Public Library Twitter account. After that, everybody made their way to the top floor to where Kaleidoscope Kids was selling signed copies of the books.

There were many interesting questions asked. For example: Does social media impact your writing in a positive or negative way? Nielson said that it can be good or bad, because it is distracting while she is trying to write her novels. However, once she publishes it and sells it, she can get an immediate reaction from her readers on social media. Juby agreed that it is bad for productivity and also added that if the readers don’t like it, they can react negatively online.

Another question: Which other authors inspire you? Juby listed Susin Nielson, J.D. Salinger, and British comedy writers. Nielson’s picks included Susan Juby, Christopher Paul Curtis, and most of all Judy Blume. Another interesting question that was asked was: What inspires you to keep writing? Juby said that when you write something that you love and are very proud of it, it is very rewarding. She also said that when you read and write fiction it is like disappearing into a whole new world which always inspires you to keep on writing. Nielson said that it is one of the only careers that she knows how to do and that she enjoys doing and that the fear of having to do something else as a job motivates her to keep writing.

The author visit was enjoyed by all.

“The event was a lot of fun. It was such a good chance for young writers to receive advice and information,” said Hawke. “Overall I’m so grateful to have been able to interview these two authors.”

Halpenny recommends author meet and greets as a way to add a new dimension to the reader’s experience.

“It’s really great to be able to put a face behind these stories. It became more meaningful after I learned the inspiration and writing process of it,” added Laura Halpenny.

Sophie O’Reilly is a grade nine student at Nepean High School


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