Susin Nielsen

This week, public tickets go on sale for the 2018 Vancouver Writers Fest. With a $35 membership, you can get your tickets early. It’s an exciting line-up of authors that includes the award-laden Susin Nielsen who wrote for TV’s Degrassi Junior High before creating books like Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom, We Are All Made Of Molecules and Optimists Die First.

Nielsen won The Governor General’s Award for The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen: ‘Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past.’

Nielsen, who lives in Vancouver, will be appearing at the Festival in three main events: Good Weeds and Building New Worlds on October 17th and Stars of the Page on October 18th.  Her newest book, No Fixed Address, comes out this Tuesday, September 11th.

We’re delighted to feature Susin as our next Q and A:

i. I work as a(n) Author. 

ii. I do this creative work because: It is really the only thing I’m good at. My husband once said that by the time Santa got to my house, he only had one gift left in his sack, but at least it was a good one. 1f604.png

iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are: Perseverance. Observation. Imagination. Self-discipline. Not seeing things in black and white. Oddly, I would say not being a perfectionist is a very helpful quality, too.

iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are: It can be lonely sometimes. And hard to have to be so continually self-motivated. It can be easy to go down the rabbit hole of self- doubt.

v. Creative childhood hobbies: I had a very active imagination, and built clubhouses out of blankets on the laundry line and forced the neighbourhood kids to put on plays with me. I liked to write stories from a fairly early age. I also took acting and singing lessons, and even dance lessons. I wanted to be on Broadway, but it turned out I couldn’t dance, could barely sing, and could only passably act.

vi. Other creators who inspire you: Judy Blume. Christopher Paul Curtis. Susan Juby (fellow BC’er!). Linda Bailey (also a fellow BC’er!). Ann Patchett. David Sedaris.

vii. Training that has helped me succeed in this career: I wrote for TV for many years. That really helped me as I moved into writing novels, because it taught me how to work to deadline, and not wait for the “muse” to strike (which, in my humble opinion, is bullshit).

viii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career: Ha! See above. Don’t wait for the muse to strike. Put your bum in the seat. Write. If it’s garbage, you can toss it the next day. Treat it like a job. A really fun, sometimes painful job, but a job. Also, don’t be too precious about your work. Learn to take good critiques from smart people, so you can make your work stronger.

ix. Some proud career moments: Winning the GG Literary Award for “Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen.” Being nominated for UK’s Carnegie Medal. Getting to travel to places like France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Italy for book-related festivals.  

x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that: You don’t need an MFA in creative writing. Take some great night school courses by working writers. Take some university courses if you like. But most important, get some life experience. Go out into the world, travel, have boring jobs, meet people.

xi. A professional goal I have for the future: Ooh. Good question. I think I’d like to write a book that is somehow unexpected. Either for adults, or a really different YA book …

xii. If you want to see my work, go to: Susin Nielsen’s Website


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