Canadian Authors Celebrate 150 in South Korea

Best thing ever that’s happened in my career. The Canadian Embassy in Korea invited Kathy Stinson and me to be celebrated and showcased in the Canada150 spotlight at the Seoul International Book Fair.

Thirteen hour flight each way, five whirlwind days there. The first began at 7:15 AM for a radio interview.

Morning Special Live–EBS Radio Station

So much fun to talk to this lively hostess as she engages and sometimes repeats what Kathy and I say in Korean. You can listen in here

Next we met with the ambassador Walsh at the Canadian embassy. He talked about some  of the other endeavours the embassy has made to showcase Canadian talent. After that I visited the Seoul International Book Fair.  Back to back appointments with agents and publishers were lively as I spoke about my books and then was translated. Everyone enjoyed the concepts and premises–judging by their responses I sold foreign rights to about five books. This proved way easier than chatting up parents and kids and making a sale say at a Chapters signing. But I’m told initial response always seems that positive. We’ll really have to wait and see.

Then I gave a “Meet the Canadian Author” talk and a writing workshop. This was my first experience being translated by Minksook Kim and I stopped in awe to watch and listen. If I ever get back to Korea I hope to have mastered much more of this musical language.

Kathy Stinson and I enjoying traditional pork bbq Yoo-Kyung, our host extraordinaire, took us out to her favourite restaurant so we could try kimchi and pork, grilled right at the table. She also guided us through Namdaemun Market so I could pick up some souvenirs.



Meeting Mr. Lee Jae-jeong, education minister of South Korea

Next day Kathy and I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jae-jeong Lee, the education minister who is very keen on the Ontario education system. He arranged for Kathy and me to visit Yomnu Elementary School, Kathy talked with grade three students, I  presented to grade six.

Yonmu Elementary School Meeting Grade 6

Then while Kathy visited the Seoul International Book Fair, I visited with students of Gyang Foreign Language High School.

Touring the Goyang Foreign Language High School Campus

I loved these students, they were so attentive. They also insisted on giving me a tour of the campus, practising their English on me.

Next morning I was slated to speak at Seoul Metropolitan Library.


The grounds in front of Seoul Metropolitan Library

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Adults keen on learning creative writing

We never know for sure who we are going to be speaking to when we do a public event. At Seoul Metropolitan Library, I spoke with 50 adults and one young person on creativity. I was also supposed to give out 150 writing tips but I perhaps only gave out five. Translating takes some of the time!

Songa English Library wins the prize for perhaps the most enthusiastic preparation and the liveliest presentation. Ever. Students here prepared detailed posters and flies were stuck on all the walls even in the elevator.

Songpa English Library Poster


After storytelling the book, and giving some of the inspiration, I watched as students created fly origami. I still don’t know how to do this. Finally I threw up some velcro fuzzball flies and the students swung at them with their flyswatters hoping to catch them for prizes. Does it get any better?Thank you Canada for taking me on so many amazing journeys.But of course it’s all the people that make the difference.Thanks to Ambassador Walsh, Jonathon Kupi,Yi Hyon Ju,Hye-Shin Kan, Yoo-Kyung Choy and Minsook Kim. Thanks Kathy Stinson. Wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you.

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Meet the author–fall in love with reading

At a recent CANSCAIP (Canadian Society for Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) meeting a woman commented passionately on how she had tried everything to get her son to read–then he met an author and everything changed. He grew to love books. It was wonderful to hear and I believe her. How many times have I listened to a passionate writer and needed to buy her book afterwards.


Describing my crossing guard character Mr. Ron In the foreground is Ping the dog played by granddaughter Jadzia. I am flanked by grandson Will and mentee and friend Tiffany.

Also I know I have been lucky enough to have this effect on my young readers too. One time I was in a restaurant grabbing some lunch between school visits on a tour of the Sudbury region and the waitress hugged me because I had hooked her daughter on one of my books. She had read it right through. First book ever.

So I venture out as much as possible, embarrassing myself as I call out to young customers at Chapters. “Want to have an autographed bookmark from a famous Canadian author?”  I don’t mind the odd rejection (crazy woman in aisle four alert!) but I love engaging kids, telling them about my books and having fun with them. Two out of three times parents and young readers walk away dazed and amazed, saying how nice it was to meet a real live author. (We won’t talk about  the other times.)

While I am genuinely autographing this book, the admiring reader is my grandson William. He thinks The Best Mistake Mystery is awesome.

But it’s even nicer to venture into a really beautiful independent bookstore. This Saturday I visited Blue Heron Books–a mesmerizing bright and colourful emporium with friendly inviting staff. On the advice of my writing mentee and friend Tiffany Short, I invited myself to host an event for March break: Solve the Dognapping. With prizes, props and script in hand, I brought along a guaranteed audience Jadzia and William Filipowicz, a couple of my grands.  They’ve been to my launches but I wanted them to experience a more child-focussed event.

Seven other keen youngsters came and we enjoyed a wonderful time. Jadzia kept saying “I feel I have to tell everyone who did it!”

“Noooooo. Jadzia, Noooo!” She kept it in luckily.

I have had larger audiences but never a better one. Or more fun. Everyone was able to earn a prize either by trading their best mistakes with me, acting out scripts or hunting down the missing (stuffed) dogs. Tiffany participated and interviewed each participant to hear who they felt committed the dognapping. I loved watching her patiently discussing all the characters with them.The local newspaper photographer came and  took photos and afterwards I was able to chat with the owner Shelley McBeth. It takes a whole village to raise a book lover.

Does that mean I turned any young readers on to reading? I think my participants were all readers to begin with. Still I did hear Jadzia tell my daughter she wants to be a writer when she grows up. But I guess I’ll judge my success by how fast Jadzia and Will grab for the next in the series, The Artsy Mistake Mystery.

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