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Cybèle Young may have seemed like an overnight kidlit success when her most recent picture book, Ten Birds (Kids Can Press), won a Governor General’s Literary Award last fall, but the Toronto-based artist actually began working on it more than 15 years ago. Young first made her name in the art world, where her miniature paper sculptures have attracted galleries and collectors in Vancouver, London, and New York, and landed her a recent residency in Paris. In the March 2012 issue of Q&Q, she discusses how her art informs her literary work, the transporting power of story, and what readers can expect next.
It might surprise some to learn that you trained as a sculptor. How did you get into publishing?
From a very young age, there was no question in my mind that I was an artist. At the Ontario College of Art, I did all sculpture courses. But in my final year of school, when I was pregnant with my daughter, everything shifted. I took a book-arts class and discovered that books were sculptural, too, on a private yet accessible level. I found myself going to kids’ book sections a lot more than I would go to galleries. And I still do.
You started Ten Birds in 1996. How did it finally come to fruition?
I drew most of the pictures for Ten Birds right after my daughter was born. I went to Groundwood Books with it 15 years ago because co-publisher Patsy Aldana is a friend’s mother. Then I illustrated a bit for Groundwood while focusing mainly on art – I felt I could only have one focus in addition to parenting.
Three years ago, after Groundwood had agreed to publish another picture book of mine, A Few Blocks (2011), I thought, “Well, I already showed this to Patsy, and we’re working together on something else,” so I showed it to Kids Can publisher Karen Boersma, whom I’d met at Groundwood. It clicked. We added one or two pages at the beginning and one or two at the end, but other than that, we used only the original drawings.
Some of your illustrations look like your sculptures. How does your art affect your books, and vice versa?
They definitely inform each other – I’m really half a person without one or the other. I had to find my voice in art first, but one of the things I love about books is being able to reach a wide audience. My sculptures imply stories, and in my books there are definitely themes I explore in my art, like my interest in small day-to-day experiences. Another thing I learned in sculpture that I apply to everything else: if I don’t enjoy it, it’s going to suck.
Has being a mom affected your publishing career?
Certainly I fell in love with children’s books when I was pregnant. And as a parent, there’s nothing more heavenly than knowing your kid, who could be climbing the walls, will sit happily in your lap if you offer them a book, and you can both be transported to another world.
Click on the thumbnails to see examples of Young’s fine art and illustration work.
Every weekend Q&Q rounds up the highlights from other websites in the St. Joseph Media family. This week’s top stories include a gastronomical homage to Ferran Adrià at the Cookbook Store and the unveiling of Team Canada’s Olympic uniforms.
A visual tour of El Bulli Imitació, Matt Kantor’s epic 22-course homage to Ferran Adrià at the Cookbook Store [Toronto Life]
The Bay unveils Team Canada’s London 2012 Olympic Games apparel [Fashion Magazine]
Get kids talking with the high-low game [Canadian Family]
Wine and Food Festival preview with expert David Lawrason [Ottawa Magazine]
MoneySense weighs in: best credit cards for travel – [Where Canada]
Four dishes to fight cold and flu season [20 Minute Supper Club]
Thirteen cost-cutting ideas from photography to catering [Wedding Bells]
In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the fall season’s biggest books.
One of the most anticipated releases of the fall season is surely the new novel from internationally acclaimed author Michael Ondaatje, his first since 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner Divisadero. Set in the early 1950s, The Cat’s Table (McClelland & Stewart, $32 cl., Sept.) tells the story of an 11-year-old boy crossing the Indian Ocean on a liner bound for England, and the mysterious prisoner shackled on board. • Also from M&S is Guy Vanderhaeghe’s first novel in eight years. Set in the late 19th-century Canadian and American West, A Good Man ($32.99 cl., Sept.) is the third book in a loose trilogy that also includes The Last Crossing (2003) and The Englishman’s Boy, which won the 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award. • A third GG winner has a new novel out this season: David Gilmour, who won in 2005 for his previous novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China. Gilmour returns with The Perfect Order of Things (Thomas Allen Publishers, $26.95 cl., Sept.), the story of a man who revisits traumatic and life-changing incidents from his past.
Marina Endicott follows up her Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted 2008 novel Good to a Fault with The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), about three sisters who become vaudeville singers following the death of their father. • Acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys returns with an historical novel set in France during the Napoleonic period. The Reinvention of Love (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Sept.) is about a French journalist whose affair with Victor Hugo’s wife causes a scandal (as it might be expected to do).
Brian Francis’s debut novel, Fruit, was a runner-up in the 2009 edition of CBC’s battle of the books, Canada Reads. His second novel, Natural Order (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Aug.), tells the story of a mother who is forced to confront the secrets she has kept about her son when her carefully constructed life is overturned by a startling revelation. • Kevin Chong returns to fiction with his first novel in a decade. Beauty Plus Pity (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95 pa., Sept.) follows an Asian-Canadian slacker in Vancouver whose incipient modelling career is derailed by the death of his father and the sudden departure of his fiancée.
Requiem (HarperCollins Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), the third novel from Frances Itani, is about a Japanese-Canadian who embarks upon a cross-country journey of discovery following the death of his wife. • Anita Rau Badami follows her best-selling novels Tamarind Mem and The Hero’s Walk with Tell It to the Trees (Knopf Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), about the Dharma family – the authoritarian Vikram, the gourmand Suman, and the old storyteller Akka. When the Dharmas’ tenant, Anu, turns up dead on their doorstep, the family’s long-buried secrets begin to boil over. • Gayla Reid returns with her first novel since 2002’s Closer Apart. Set during the Spanish Civil War, Come from Afar (Cormorant Books, $32 cl., Aug.) tells the story of an Australian nurse who falls into a relationship with a Canadian soldier from the International Brigade.
Haitian expat Dany Laferrière is back with his third novel in translation in three years. The Return (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95 pa., Aug.) tells the story of a 23-year-old Haitian named Dany who flees Baby Doc Duvalier’s repressive regime and relocates to Montreal. Thirty-three years later, Dany learns of his father’s death in New York City, and plots a return to his native country. David Homel translates. • Another Montreal resident, poet Sina Queyras, has a novel out this fall, the author’s first. Autobiography of Childhood (Coach House Books, $20.95 pa., Oct.) is about one day in the lives of five siblings haunted by the death of a brother years before. • Infrared (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl., Sept.), the new novel by Nancy Huston, is about a photographer who travels to Tuscany with her father and stepmother. Employing internal dialogues with the photographer’s mental doppelgänger, Huston opens up her hero for exposure and provides an intimate picture of her interior life.
CanLit mainstay David Helwig returns with a novella, his first since 2007’s Smuggling Donkeys. Killing McGee (Oberon, $38.95 cl., $18.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a professor’s dual obsessions with the assassination of D’Arcy McGee and the disappearance of one of his students. • Toronto-based poet Dani Couture returns with her first novel, a surreal and iconoclastic take on that perennial CanLit staple: the family drama. Algoma (Invisible Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a family attempting to cope with the aftermath of a young child falling through the ice and drowning. • Shari Lapeña also has a novel about a perennial CanLit concern: raising money to allow one time to write poetry. Happiness Economics (Brindle & Glass, $19.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of a stalled poet who takes a job writing advertising copy to start a poetry foundation.
Jamaican-born novelist, poet, and non-fiction author Olive Senior returns to long-form fiction with Dancing Lessons (Cormorant, $22 pa., Aug.), about a woman looking back on her life after a hurricane destroys her home. • Memoirist Frances Greenslade (A Pilgrim in Ireland, By the Secret Ladder) has a debut novel out this August. Shelter (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl.) is a coming of age story about two sisters searching for their mother, who abandoned them after their father was killed in a logging accident.
Not one, but two novels this season extend the burgeoning CanLit focus on towns that have been/are about to be flooded (after Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Anne Michaels’ The Winter Vault, and Michael V. Smith’s Progress). Tristan Hughes’s Eye Lake (Coach House, $19.95 pa., Oct.) is about the town of Crooked River, Ontario. Named for a river that was diverted to make way for a mine, the town harbours secrets that surface when the river reclaims its original course. • And in September, Goose Lane Editions will publish Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned ($19.95 pa.), about the suspicions, secrets, and emotions that flare up when the township of Haverton is scheduled to be flooded to allow for the construction of a massive dam.
Edward Riche follows up his Thomas Head Raddall Award winner The Nine Planets with Easy to Like (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., Sept.), a satire about a screenwriter and oenophile who dreams of travelling to Paris, but is trapped in Canada by an expired passport and a growing Hollywood scandal. Relocating to Toronto, he bluffs his way into the upper echelons of the CBC. • Former president and CEO of Penguin Canada, David Davidar was forced out of his position under a cloud of scandal after accusations of sexual harassment. Davidar’s new novel, Ithaca (M&S, $29.99 cl., Oct.), is, perhaps not coincidentally, about the rise and fall of a publishing star.
Canadian literary icon Michel Tremblay returns with a new novel, the first in a trilogy. Set in 1913, Crossing the Continent (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., Oct.) takes the author’s characters out of Quebec for the first time, to tell the backstory of the people who populate his Chroniques du Plateau-Mont-Royal series. Long-time Tremblay collaborator Sheila Fischman translates.
A resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, lately one of the most fertile spots for Canadian writing, Michelle Butler Hallett crafts genre-busting stories and novels that frequently experiment with gender and perspective. Her new novel, Deluded Your Sailors (Creative Book Publishing, $21.95 pa., Sept.), focuses on the culture industry from the perspective of Nichole Wright, who makes a discovery that puts a government-funded tourism project in jeopardy, and a shape-shifting minister named Elias Winslow. • Another Newfoundland native, Kate Story, has a novel out with Creative this season. The follow-up to 2008’s Blasted, Wrecked Upon This Shore ($21.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of Pearl Lewis, an emotionally damaged, charismatic woman who is seen at different stages in her life.
In 1972, Christina Parr returns to her hometown of Parr’s Landing, a place she fled years earlier. The dirty secret of Parr’s Landing? A 300-year-old vampire resides in the caves of the remote mining town. Christina learns why she should have stayed away in Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night (ChiZine Publications, $17.95 pa., Oct.). • English literature professor Janey Erlickson struggles to make headway in her academic career while caring for a tyrannical toddler in Sue Sorensen’s comic novel A Large Harmonium (Coteau Books, $21 pa., Sept.). • Paul Brenner, a Vancouver lawyer, dines with his son, Daniel, one Friday evening. The next day, Brenner receives word that his son has been murdered. Hold Me Now (Freehand Books, $21.95 pa., Oct.), the first novel from Stephen Gauer, examines a father’s grief and a lawyer’s faith in the legal system.
Anyone who has ever wondered what might transpire if the author of Bigfoot’s autobiography were to illustrate a story collection by Canada’s reigning postmodern ironist can stop wondering. October sees the publication of Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (Random House Canada, $24 cl.), the first collaboration between author Douglas Coupland and well-known illustrator Graham Roumieu.
D.W. Wilson currently lives in London, England, but is a native of B.C.’s Kootenay Valley. The winner of the inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship from the University of East Anglia, Wilson’s debut collection, Once You Break a Knuckle (Hamish Hamilton Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), is a suite of stories about good people doing bad things.
Novelist Anne DeGrace has her first collection of short stories on tap for September. Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl.) spans the 20th century and crosses vast swathes of territory. Wireless telegraphy, German POWs in Manitoba, the Great Depression, and the FLQ crisis all crop up in her stories. • David Whitton’s story “Twilight of the Gods” was included in the 2010 sci-fi anthology Darwin’s Bastards. The story also appears in Whitton’s first solo collection, The Reverse Cowgirl (Freehand, $21.95 pa., Oct.), which sports the most sexually suggestive title for a collection of CanLit stories since Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method.
Toronto writer Rebecca Rosenblum follows up her Metcalf-Rooke Award–winning debut collection Once (a Q&Q book of the year for 2009) with The Big Dream (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., Sept.), a collection of linked stories about the lives of workers at Dream, Inc., a lifestyle-magazine publisher. • The Maladjusted (Thistledown Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.), Toronto writer Derek Hayes’ debut collection, focuses on people who run afoul of the dictates of polite society. • Also from Thistledown, Britt Holmström’s Leaving Berlin ($18.95 pa., Sept.) examines contemporary women in both Canadian and European settings.
The fine print: Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have appeared in previous previews do not appear here.
Fans of schmaltzy romances will be saddened to read that the Travel Bookshop in West London is closing in two weeks.
The 32-year-old store, which still draws in lovestruck tourists, is best known from its appearance in the 1999 Hugh Grant–Julia Roberts rom-com Notting Hill.
Owned by European Estates Plc, the shop has been up for sale since May, when a spokesperson for the company told thebookseller.com: “His [the owner's] adult children have indicated that they would rather not follow him into the business and so he feels that the continuance of the trade would be best served by selling it on for a new generation to look after one of London’s iconic and special bookshops.”
Although the Travel Bookshop is closing, we still have this famous scene to remember it by:
Shelagh Rogers announced the winners of this year’s CBC Literary Awards this morning on CBC Radio’s Q.
The awards, started by editor, publisher, and CBC producer Robert Weaver in 1979, recognize original unpublished work by Canadians in three categories: creative non-fiction, poetry, and short story. First prize in each category is $6,000, second prize is $4,000, and all winning works get published in enRoute magazine. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, and Susan Musgrave (who is, coincidentally, the subject of Q&Q’s April cover story.)
The first and second prize winners are:
1. Gina Leola Woolsey (Vancouver), “My Best Friend”
2. Leslie Beckmann (North Vancouver), “Tortfeasor”
1. Brian Brett (Salt Spring Island), “To Your Scattered Bodies Go”
2. Gerald Hill (Regina), “Natural Cause”
1. Meghan Adams (London, ON), “Snapshots from My Father’s Euthanasia Road Trip, or Esau”
2. Corinne Stikeman (Toronto), “Birds That Streak the Sky”
This year’s jury consisted of Don Gillmor, Charlotte Gray, and Margaret Wente for the non-fiction category; Weyman Chan, Motion, and George Murray for the poetry category; and Michael Crummey, Rivka Galchen, and Madeleine Thien for the short story category.
A list of French-language winners can be found on the CBC Literary Awards/Prix littéraires Radio-Canada website.
Book biz roundup: Yann Martel calls it quits; HarperCollins “friends” teen talent; playwrights get a hand from Harold Pinter; and more
- Yann Martel, “tired of using books as political bullets and grenades,” quits his book club
- Jeff Lemire, Kate Beaton, and Conundrum Press among nominees for Joe Shuster Awards
- HarperCollins to publish crowdsourced novel by teen
- Apple’s App Store gives Sony the boot
- London’s Royal Court Theatre announces new Harold Pinter Playwright’s Award
- This Saturday is Save our Libraries Day in England. “We Love Libraries” is a video made to fuel the flames of protest. It’s even got a hip-hop soundtrack…
- Authorities in Idaho finally catch up to the condiment bandit, the natural enemy of state-wide library drop boxes
Book news pour vous:
- Let’s put all that nasty volcano stuff behind us, whot? London Book Fair offers exhibitor discount for 2011
- The Millions looks at Toronto’s Quattro Books
- U.K. children’s authors join boycott of silly sounding reading tests
- Soon to be revealed: Marilyn Monroe’s thoughts on Joyce, Beckett, and others
- The pecking order of American literary magazines
Have some book news with your morning coffee:
- Danielle Steel needs to be more selective when hiring assistants
- London Book Fair attendance down by a third
- Yann Martel responds to critical thrashings
- Salon co-opted by Barnes & Noble Review
- OMG! Kindle to be sold at Target
- Amazon won’t retroactively fix errors in the e-books you buy from them
- For those of you unfamiliar with the lingo of fan fiction: meet Mary Sue
Your daily blast of news goodness:
- Volcano eruption in Iceland grounds flights to U.K. and threatens London Book Fair
- E-book version of new Stephenie Meyer novella more expensive than hardcover
- Your tweets to be preserved forever
- Shandi Mitchell wins Atlantic Book Award
- Erica Jong on Kitty and Oprah
- Chatting with new Parisian Review editor Loren Stein
- Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens planning to have Pope Benedict arrested
An assortment of links to kick off your work week:
- No Canadians on IMPAC prize shortlist
- The Bookseller offers its London Book Fair rights preview
- iPad Mini in the works? (Uh, I’ve got an iPad Mini already – it’s called an iPhone)
- Big name celebs refuse to talk to Oprah biographer Kitty Kelley
- That includes John Tesh, who apparently walked out on Oprah in the middle of the night
- Children’s booksellers want more standalone titles
- Mystery Writers of America restores Harlequin to its Approved Publishers list