Yesterday, Dani, a cracker-jack young teacher, called me on the phone just after lunch during my prep. I met Dani -- a good friend of my last intern, Jade -- this past summer at the Treaty Days workshop facilitated by Keitha and me. She and her students had just finished reading my novel, Voice of the Valley. We were supposed to Skype, but I hadn't got my technology together, so we resorted to the good old telephone.
1. How many books are you planning on writing? - Wyatt
2. Why did you become a writer?* - Emily
3. What inspired you to write this book? - Kody
4. How long did this book take you to write? - Mitch
5. In the dedication for the book, why did you say “thanks for all the fish” to your parents? - Hussain
6. What’s it like to write books? Is it hard, fun, etc? - Madison
7. Where did you write the book? - Sydney
8. What gave you the idea for the setting? - Austin
9. Tell us about your plans for the sequel. - Rene
10. Is the book based on you, your daughter, a friend? Are Onja and Stacy based on people in your real life? - Madison
11. How many books have you sold and where is the farthest away place you have sold a book to? - Emily
12. How many pets do you have? - Nolan
13. Did you like school as a kid? - Abigail
Then they had a few more questions. One student asked what was my favorite part in the book. I told them about the part where Onja assumed that Etthen would know all about horses because he is First Nations, and Etthen said back, "What, do you think I'm a TV Indian in a Spaghetti Western?"
They also wondered about the sequel, Call to the North, which isn't finished yet. I explained that at the end of the first novel, Onja knows that she has to deal with a changing world, but at the beginning of the sequel, she isn't handling that change well. Her mom and Etthen's mom decide Onja needs to get out of her home community, and that gets her sent to Caribou Crossing, a fictional Dene Community. Onja then sees a community in transition and has to come to terms with some of her own transitions, not without tension and consequence, I might add.
I also told the kids about my proposal for a nonfiction manuscript, with the working title, Treaty Walks: A Newcomers' Story. It has currently passed a first reader at a publishing house and I'll know in a month or so if they want to see the entire manuscript. I still have some work to do on this story, so the kids inspired me to go home last night, and get busy with edits.