Children’s Literature Gets Special Attention at Shuswap Festival

Authors Sarah Ellis and Deborah Hodge, author/illustrator Bob Beeson and children’s literature editor Kathryn Cole will be among a star-studded cast at the 2nd annual Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm this June. The four will be joined by another well-known children’s author and editor, Ann Walsh, for a panel discussion of the current trends and opportunities in this important field of writing.

Walsh and Cole will also be contributing time to authors wanting a critique of their work in the Blue Pencil sessions. Cole includes illustrators’ portfolios among the work she is willing to look at.

Vancouver author SARAH ELLIS spent ten years as a children?s librarian, during which time she discovered a delight in performing — in puppetry and storytelling. At the same time she became interested in writing children?s books, spending a year at the Center for the Study of Children?s Literature at Simmons College in Boston. She now writes review columns and lectures internationally on Canadian children?s books. She began writing her own fiction in a spirit of curiosity: fourteen books later she is well and truly hooked.

Awards include the Governor General?s Award for Literature, the Mr.

Christie Book Award, and the Sheila A. Egoff Award. Recently, she was nominated for one of the coveted BC Book Prizes.

Ellis will discuss the world of children’s fiction, the conventions of story forms and poetry, and how a writer can make it work for him/her.

In a second session, she will talk about her own work and explain why writers have such a good time, both “in the private act of writing and in the public act of ‘being a writer'”.

Deborah Hodge taught school in the Lower Mainland for 12 years and credits her students for firing her interest in children’s non-fiction when they couldn’t find informative books they could read themselves.

She left teaching to write curriculum for the BC Ministry of Education for ten years, and during that time, wrote the first of many books for young children. Topics encompass science, animals, insects and Canadian history. Her book “Canada’s Railway and How the CPR was Built” won her the Information Book Award of Canada. She has just published her first book of fiction, “Emma’s Story”.

Hodge will focus on her children’s non-fiction specialty. In one session, she will talk about the creation of a non-fiction book for kids, from idea generation through research, writing, and illustrating it, what makes it appealing and how to choose great kids’ books. In a second session, she will discuss breaking into the children’s non-fiction market, a field that may be easier to enter than fiction, and provides insights into ways that can be handled successfully.

Bob Beeson is a recent arrival in Salmon Arm, hailing from England and various points along the way. His daughter’s birth in 1986 started him along the road to writing for children and was quickly followed by illustrating his own work. He has done illustrations for Kids Can Press and Orca Books as well as combined writing and illustrating of several children’s titles.

Beeson’s Festival workshop will be of special interest to those contemplating illustrating their own work, taking his students through the process of developing a story board and text, and presenting work in a manner that publishers are willing to accept.

Other features of the Festival include science fiction and fantasy, poetry, contemporary fiction, journalism and, of special interest to the business community, “How to Write a Killer Speech” by one of the best professional speech-writers in Canada.

The 2004 Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival will be held at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, Salmon Arm BC on June 25th through 27th. The weekend is composed of readings and workshops by well known authors, evening entertainment, celebrity auction finale and the annual Joyce Dunn Memorial Writers’ Competition awards. This is a special event for writers and book lovers. Details and registration forms can be found on the website ( or obtain from Elaine Blanc phone/fax 250-835-8349, email


1-877-737-8443 You won?t get the conference rates otherwise and may be told the hotel is full, when in reality a large block of rooms has been set aside for the Festival). Don’t forget the deadline for the Joyce Dunn Memorial Writers’ Competition is May 15th. And remember to bid on the many unique items on the Celebrity Auction. Offerings can be viewed on the website.