In the age of Trumpism, it's more important than ever to teach history and empathy to Canada's kids. I spoke to CKBW Radio in London, Ontario about bringing Chanie and 'The Secret Path' into classrooms—and how kids are naturally empathetic, imaginative creatures. All we have to do is ask them what they think. This is how we create a better world: by listening.
Big and happy news! I've been chosen for TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2017, a longstanding and fantastic program where authors and illustrators whiz to and fro across the country—Maritimers visiting the Yukon, Quebecers in Newfoundland, west coasters in Nunavut, Albertans in Ontario—for a dizzying week of readings and workshops.
I'm thrilled to be presenting, reading, growling, and signing books at this weekend's Word on the Street Festival in Halifax! Bring your little beasts to the festival's wonderful homebase of the Halifax Central Library this Saturday, September 17, 2016.
I've gotten piles of paper held into a bundle with paperclips, elastic bands, scotch tape. Even once, a 6-foot-high thank-you banner to hang in my house. It's like monster Christmas morning! See? Silly werewolves. Big-hearted werewolves. Werewolves eating doughnuts. Regular kids, imagining regular life in irregularly power-full, growly ways. Funny, big-smiling stuff.
"To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble." —Bill Watterson
If I Were a Zombie is a boisterous trip through the twisted and often gory delights of a child’s imagination. This is a picture book that is fun and gross at the same time: what could be better? This is a delightful, entertaining book that is sure to be a hit with kids. —National Reading Campaign
Let's raise every glass of green monster punch to Nimbus, Eric Orchard, Woozles, the Halifax Zombie Walk folks, and every other little goblin, robot, and alien who came out to the book launch at the Halifax Central Library to celebrate. Brains!
I don't think Evan and Ben will ever fully recover from their backstage pass to the CBC Charlottetown studios for our interview with Karen Mair for Mainstreet. Stars and rainbows! Karen suggested that they might do one of the 'You are listening to CBC Radio' plugs. So they got all hooked up, with big headphones and everything, and tried it. Then tried it again. Then tried it again.
"What I do like is a beautiful picture book, a kid-friendly one that my children delight in as much as I do, and so to that end, the undead notwithstanding, Kate Inglis’ latest book, If I Were A Zombie, illustrated by Eric Orchard, totally delivers..."
I am using you, Kev Corbett. Just so you know. Just like all the others. This one and that one and that one too and also these guys and there have been more. It's the music juju. The faith and company that you're out there too, writing grant applications and pitching media and booking, booking, booking, headed out cross-country fuelled with Timmy's double-doubles and gas station banana bread. The shed chimney poofs cheerful smoke into the tree canopy and here you are, making a go of it, like I am. I'm taking notes.
Four sessions of dozens of kids in one day. No matter where I am, it always starts off the same: What's the biggest library rule? ... BE QUIET they say, in that obedient sing-songy chorus. One kid in the back says NO FLYING SIDE KICKS.
If I Were A Zombie—silly little monsters-and-magical-creatures poems for preschoolers and early-grade goofballs, as fantastically illustrated by the award-winning Eric Orchard—is here! Time to crack out my classroom growl, the one that makes the kids giggle. That's all we do, really, when authors write for little ones. We trade tricks for giggles. Sea monsters with bare bums, naughty wood fairies with mud up their noses, mom-mooning pirate ghosts, and of course, zombies with mouldy underpants.
I'll always relish the chance to shoot musicians. They slip into play so easily. We chat about grants and gigs, empty pubs and full barns, albums and half-written snippets of songs. Grassy or grand, they share half-thoughts and works in-progress from every stage. They let us into their experiments, hits and failures alike, as many songs as love affairs and runaways, and we sit there gawking at them, marvelling at how they hold us in trance. They hold up a mirror, that thing they do, and we say aaaaaahhhh.
A certifiable free-for-all tickle trunk! A gross-out makeup station! Either a monster limbo or monster breakdance contest! Yet to be determined. Prizes! Fun! Healthy goblin eyeball snacks! With thanks to all the creative minds at Nimbus Publishing, we've just gotten confirmation today that the launch party for If I Were A Zombie will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 2-4 PM at the world-admired, sparkling-new Halifax Central Library, one of few public institutions that's totally down with en masse growling.
Don't keep yourself from writing just because you haven't found the shape of a story yet. Just play with words. Play and have fun and someday, when you're running through a sprinkler or eating a hot dog or drifting off to sleep, you'll feel a tap on your shoulder, and a voice in your ear like it's being whispered through a tin can telephone. Be ready.
Willie Stratton was one of three musicians who played the third annual Shed Workshop party this September, and he made everything in the woods go really, really quiet. By commanding it, even though he didn't mean to, you know? He's loud. And it made us quiet. Everyone-there-with-their-mouths-hanging-open quiet. He wails and stamps and even on his own, it's blistering. He's a really nice guy. But not when he plays.
They hang so thick from the back of Evan's door that it thumps back at you when you push into the room, recoiling from a ruffled crush against the bookshelf. Tea parties and dance halls and lemon yellow picnic gingham for good girls, mostly, every single one of them made by hand, with little scissor snips where seams were matched. They keep finding me in antique barns and Frenchy's bins. I am their Josephine Baker, and they're my rainbow tribe of orphans.
Old Man Luedecke's latest album, Domestic Eccentric, was recorded in the godforsaken armpit of the longest and gnarliest winter any of us can remember. He hired a backhoe to shovel a path through chest-deep snow to his woodland cabin, where everyone tumbled inside with gourd banjos and mandolins and fiddles and drums, and me and my camera, too, to capture a bit of it all.
Workshop participants gave so many gifts that day. To themselves, each other, and the people who landed in these woods. God, we were beat! We had so much fun, all of us so invigorated to create images together and in parallel. BONG! Go grab a soul.
Until we let go of the need to grip tight onto our stories, those my-truths and being right about it all, we will remain in an endless loop of a You Did A Bad Thing—No, I Did A Good Thing gridlock. It’s an expensive one. It costs energy and turns everyone sour with its touch. It’s a parasite that entrenches deeper, widening the gap.
I am so thrilled to share the terrifically gloomy and romantic and shiny wonder-eyed news that the excellent Eric Orchard is illustrating the book! Right now! And I'm crying again as he sends sketches through—although this time, it's more cry-giggling. Breakdancing zombies will do that.
It's a very pregnant moment, you know? Pregnant beyond a woman. It's a taut, bursting roundness and joy that's about all of us. Time slows for friends and loved ones watching anxiously from sidelines, and these days, time doesn't do that often. It only slides downhill and in blinks, decades passing on great big gulps while we're fussing over supper. That's why it's a pregnant moment. Everyone slows, watching and waiting.
Her English parents fret for her from the motherland, imagining her lugging seven cords of wood in February and coaxing bullish chickens and shovelling her roof. And she does. There's a three-legged cat, a 1960s cocktail bar. She is never without Pimm's. She wears mustard-coloured tights and bright teal pumps and a black and white checkered miniskirt. Inland, she's rare to the point of scandalous. I certainly hope so, she says.
You don't pass into made-it-on-your-own territory with a marching band and a fondant cake. You make it on your own mousetrap by mousetrap, taking it on because there's nothing else to do other than take it on, and because live rodents are more icky than dead ones.
Registration is open! Come join us for the third annual Shed Photography Workshop: Photo Essay & Visual Storytelling. It's all happening again: the best weekend ever, with inchworms, the fire pit, and a great big stomping creekside party. With banjos.
We draw and write through life not only for sanity or play or escape, but because when you make space for art, you become a magnet for other people who make space for art. And people like that are weird and rare and fantastic. They do the best stuff. They throw wood onto our fires and they make the room warm. Oddity fuels oddity when everything else is beige.
The winter is over! This unrelenting winter. I couldn't do much, like all of us in the Maritimes, other than either buy a plane ticket or batten down and wait for it to stop. As I write this, three days from May, it's snowing again. But it won't stick. Like bigotry and heartbeats it knows it's doomed, falling on soft mud and new worms.
"Never didactic but wisely intentional, it is just a matter of time before The Flight of the Griffons takes off and lands in classrooms and homes everywhere. Missy Bullseye oughta rub shoulders with Harry Potter on the world stage. This is not hyperbole..."
I've been wanting to share the lazy, lovely day I had with singer-songwriter Kim Harris for ages. We poked our way through the woods across the creek on one of the fall's last golden days, bringing with us a bag of Billie Holiday and soft things and sparkly things and we played while the last leaves drifted to the ground.
"Flight of the Griffons is much more than an adventure story ... the character of Missy and her fellow pirates gives readers faith in the tenacity and goodness of human nature. ... Flight of the Griffons could be read as a stand-alone, but to have read the first one in the series would make it even more satisfying! So buy both volumes!"