Yesterday I had a great visit to Ms. Armstrong's Grade 6 class at Murray Centennial P.S. in Trenton. What a nice, quiet, well-behaved and well-informed class that was! They had excellent questions about Leaving Fletchville; questions it challenged me to answer... I thought some more about them when I got home and, as usual, found I could answer the question better now that I thought about it some more. The best question was; "How do you decide what to write about?" At the core of every book is a basic story which means a lot to the writer. This is what the writer really wants to say. It is a framework, like the skeleton in a body. All the rest of the book,the characters, events, places and descriptions, are the muscles, organs, systems and connective tissue that complete the body and make it seem real. In Leaving Fletchville the 'skeleton' is the story of Leon and his family. That is why I wrote the book; to tell a story of brave and responsible kids like them, who accept responsibility for others. The rest of the story, like Brandon, the school, the fights, Fletchville assignments and all the other stuff are the body parts which make the body seem real. I was honoured to be asked back to Murray Centennial. Thank you.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Years ago I worked in a nickel mine and I thought the dark, damp, cold, (sometimes very warm) drafty and creepy atmosphere would be excellent for a murder-mystery story. I've been trying to write that story ever since. I started working on it (again) in October and I'm hoping I get it right this time... Adrian (Boots) Boutet is a hockey star. One day Adrian's father goes to work in the mine, by himself, and doesn't come back to surface at the end of the shift. There is a search but no sign is found of the miner. Adrian decides, based on a recurring dream, that he must search for his father in the mine. His on-again off-again girlfriend, Kayla, insists on going with him. Together they enter the mine during the 'graveyard shift' and they get separated when... (Oh, I'd better not give too much away!) Anyway, if I get it written in another few months, and if it gets accepted by a publisher, it may be published in a year or two... so there are a lot of 'ifs' involved.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
It was great to be back with old friends at Stockdale P.S. Thanks to all the kids who were such a great audience. I will continue to work on those two stories I read to you, plus I may work on Chris Time Boy (if I have the time!)
I am available for school or library visits. As a nominee for the Red Maple awards I am listed on the forest of Reading website. (They have a nice bio there as well)
I can be booked through the Author's Booking Service Website (click on presenters and then on 2010 Tree Nominees) or paste this link; http://www.authorsbooking.com/2043/2064.html
Or you can email 'Mister S' at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, November 16, 2009
The second book in the Canadian Disaster series was Disaster! which came out first in 1999, with a reprint in 2000. We wanted to write about the many tragic events that had happened since 1985, including the Air India crash, by terrorist bomb, which killed hundreds of Canadian citizens. Also added was the Swissair crash of Flight 111, the Ice Storm of the Century, two serious floods, a tragic bus crash and the Westray Mine Explosion, a shameful and preventable tragedy which caused the deaths of 26 men. (The most recent Canadian Disaster book has these stories as well) This book is still listed on book stores' electronic catalogues but is no longer available, sorry.
My first published book was Canadian Disasters, which came out in 1985. It outsold all of Scholstic Canada's non-fiction titles in 1986 (76 000 copies) and was re-printed several times in years after.
For me it was cool to see it in libraries and schools all over Canada. Kids learned about Canada's own forgotten disasters like the Lake Huron Storm of 1913, which destroyed more than 30 large freight ships and sunk eight 'with all hands'. We've never had another storm nearly that bad. We've had a city blow up because of an explosion as big as a nuclear bomb. We've had a huge bridge collapse during construction, twice over, in Quebec City; a bridge which was so poorly designed it should never have been built. Engineers wear a steel ring to remind them of the trouble they can cause if they mess up their math. This is a photo after the first collapse of the bridge.
This photo is of a mountain that slid down onto a small Alberta town and buried half the townsfolk.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Hello to Mrs. Corbett and all my former students (and those I haven't taught) at Stockdale P.S. I'm looking forward to my visit on Wednesday, November 17th in the afternoon. Stockdale is where many of my former students gave good feedback and editing ideas while Leaving Fletchville and Canadian Disasters (2006) was being written. Also my first-ever school 'book launch' (for Leaving Fletchville) was done in the library, thanks to Mrs. Corbett (I'll post some pictures of that). I am going to do a reading of a story I am working on. I've been trying to get this story right for over five years and I'm getting closer to the end. At first it was boring and too descriptive and only really keen readers would bother with it. I'm hoping that it will have a broader appeal now.
After reading a few pages via the smartboard I will ask a few questions... just like a teacher to give a test!
See you soon. Rene Schmidt.