Co-presenting Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

IFOA is pleased to partner with Toronto’s beloved Hot Docs Cinema to co-present Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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Uncover the incredible story of Gabriel García Márquez, winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature and author of deservedly celebrated classics including 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. A law-school dropout and political journalist who grew up in the poverty and violence of northern Colombia, García Márquez became globally celebrated for his sensual, magical and epic work. Former US president Bill Clinton, former Colombian president César Gaviria and more are among interviewees celebrating his legacy in this breathtaking doc. “What matters in life is not what happens to you,” said García Márquez, “But what you remember and how you remember it.”

The event includes a post-screening Skype Q&A with director Justin Webster. We encourage you to join us for this screening. Watch Twitter and Facebook for ticket giveaways!

SUN, JAN 29, 11:00 AM

For more details visit: http://ow.ly/8uGS307ILKE

Five Questions with Deb Loughead

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Deb Loughead is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults, ranging from poetry and plays to picture books and novels. IFOA has asked her to talk about her inspiration, new work and how stories define us!

Join us on December 14 for Toronto Lit Up and celebrate her new work!

IFOA: In your bio you mention that you have kept everything you have ever written. How do you feel when you go back and re-read your work?

Deb: I would have to say both nostalgic and satisfied.  Nostalgic, because it’s an opportunity to revisit my childhood and my tween-hood.  I began writing poetry at about age ten and stories shortly afterwards.  My mother always read to me and told me stories so I was fascinated with words, maybe even obsessed, from an early age. I see a natural progression, a little girl who lived in her imagination and daydreamed constantly.  And put it all down in words. I can also see that it was inevitable that I would become a writer, from the very first story I ever wrote, “A Narrow Escape for a Mouse”, which I always read to students on school visits.

IFOA: What is the most exciting and the most difficult thing when you write for children and young adults?

Deb: The exciting part is creating credible characters that young readers can relate to and identify with.  I write contemporary realistic fiction so it is also a challenge to keep it current, and to imagine and capture their environment of home and school and friendships. Perhaps my readers will see themselves and some of their own problems in the dilemmas my characters have been faced with. There is never a perfect ending in my stories, but there are answers and solutions that I hope they can take away with them and apply to their own lives.  Often the difficult part is coming up with the premise that I hope will work. I don’t plot my stories in advance, so there are times when I have no idea where a twisting plot-line will lead me, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I get there. I hope my readers will be as well.

IFOA: In your bio you also ask yourself if the stories that we carry around with us make us who we are. Do they? If yes, can we ever change our narrative, can we change who we are?

loughead-the-secret-we-keepDeb: Every event in our life, every situation we experience becomes a part of the narrative of our lives.  These are our life stories, this is what shapes us, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad of it. For example, I grew up on my mother’s stories, of her childhood, her young adulthood, her life as a teacher, wife and young mother.  She is a great storyteller and always willing to share. I learned who she was because of the stories that shaped her life. I’ve developed a clearer understanding of who she is now, because I know who she was so long ago. I believe that who she is must be innate. But it’s how she reacted to and dealt with every event in her life that determined the outcome. I don’t think we can change who we are. That would probably take a lot of psychotherapy, probably to no avail! Like that saying “a leopard can’t change its spots.” But I think that every opportunity in life offers the possibility to create a new narrative and to enrich yourself no matter who you are.

IFOA: What inspired you to write The Secrets We Keep?

Deb: Believe it or not, a question and answer in an advice column in the Toronto Star. And asking myself ‘what if’!

IFOA: What is most important for the characters in the book, the truth or the secret?

Deb: Learning the truth was vital to Clem and her friends. It was the only way they could find closure and move forward. But keeping the secret was even more crucial by the end of the novel. If the secret were to be revealed to Kit’s family, they knew it would open old wounds and delay their finding a measure of closure themselves. So keeping the secret is essential for the sake of the Stitski family.

The secret is the bond that the four of them share.  They are all aware that they are connected by the role that each of them played leading up to Kit’s death ‘by misadventure’. I think Clem pretty much sums it up in the second last paragraph.  Sometimes keeping secrets is imperative ‘Not just to protect ourselves, but to protect the other people in our circle of family and friends who could be even more damaged by them than we are.’

Holiday Book Buying Guide

We are always excited to recommend books, especially around the holiday season. A book is the perfect customized gift. There truly is something for everyone. Check out our staff recommendations for the book nerds, literati and hard-to-shop-for loved ones on your list!

All signed Festival titles are currently on sale at the Harbourfront Centre Shop. Hurry in to receive 15%-20% discounts on books!

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For the #CanLit lover you can’t go wrong with an award winner like Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

For the goof in the family or group of friends consider When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.

For young nieces and nephews or young-at-heart list-makers check out The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julia Sarda.

For those who love to get cozy with a cup of tea by the fireside The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a great choice.

For the impossible to shop for preteen girl Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris is perfect.

For your younger brother that’s home for the holidays try City of Thieves by David Benioff.

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For the little ones that love bedtime stories Toronto ABC and Canada ABC by Paul Covello or Fox and Squirrel The Best Christmas Ever by Ruth Ohi

For the proud Torontonians (#ReadtheNorth!) check out a a classic like In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondatjee or Michael Helm’s Cities of Refuge.

For those with a curious mind and an out-of-the-box perception of the world pick up Anosh Irani’s The Parcel.

For the historian in your life definitely buy The Promise of Canada by Charlotte Gray.

For the lover of politics, who may need a break from talking about the US Election, they need Nathan Hill’s The Nix.

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For the children who ran out of fables to read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig written by Eugene Trivizas is your best bet.

For the kid who can’t give up Halloween quite yet try Haunted Canada 6 by John Sutherland.

For your friend with the serious Gilmore Girls obsession turn off the TV and give them Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

For the musician offer up School of Velocity by Eric Beck Rubin.

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For your mother in law who loves Canada Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things is our go-to.

For graphic novel readers experiencing some wanderlust check out Burts Way Home by John Martz.

For the naturopath in your group of friends The Naturalist by Alissa York seems appropriate.

For the family member who appreciates dark comedy Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is sure to be a bestseller.
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For the Shakespeare aficionado, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed because it is based on The Tempest.

For your crime-fiction loving parents Peter Robinson’s When The Music’s Over is a great choice.

For grandma who only reads historical fiction give her Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.

For your technology-obsessed boyfriend The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott is fool-proof.

For sci-fi fans check out Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

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Five Questions with Mary Jennifer Payne

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Mary Jennifer Payne’s writing has been published in journals, anthologies, and magazines in Canada and abroad. She is the author of several YA graphic novels and the YA novel Since You’ve Been Gone. She teaches special education with the Toronto District School Board and lives in Toronto.

Join us as we celebrate her new work at Toronto Lit Up on December 14.

IFOA:  Finding Jade is part of the Daughters of Light fantasy series. What are some of the themes you want to explore in the trilogy?

Mary Jennifer: Some of the themes I wanted to explore in the Daughters of Light series are very much grounded in reality and in our contemporary world. Perhaps the most pressing theme concerns the ravaging of our planet and the impact of that on our daily lives and on global human rights. As the series continues, the theme of “othering”, and the corrupting nature or power become more dominant. There are many themes pertinent to teens in Finding Jade, some of these include: living with a single parent with chronic illness, bullying, and the trials and tribulations of young love. I also wanted to re-frame some of the traditional, gendered narratives about leadership and mainstream ideas about “superhero” protagonists as they are largely male-centric.

IFOA:  Finding Jade transports the reader to 2030. How have you imagined our future? Why?

Mary Jennifer: Initially, the series was set at a later date around 2050. However, it became apparent, as I went through the final revisions of Finding Jade, that climate change was rapidly intensifying, and that precipitated the need for the series to be set closer to our contemporary times. The Arab Spring uprisings were in their infancy when I began writing the series about five years ago, and, as such, the tragedy of the Syrian war and the subsequent refugee crisis were not even on the horizon. I based many of the climate change refugee issues and the description of our world in the year 2030 (which- spoiler alert– becomes more important in the series’ later books) on what was happening in Darfur, the rise of demagogue leaders, and the history of internment and/or genocide in places like Canada, Germany, Rwanda, etc. Jasmine lives in a world largely shaped by climate change. In many ways, it parallels are own: countries are closing their borders to refugees fleeing nations ravaged by drought and other environmental disasters, and much of the world is experiencing political, economic and social unrest due to this. Resources are scarce and energy is being conserved due to the warming climate- even in relatively resource-rich Toronto. I think, especially in light of the political and social transformations happening in the US this past year and the increasingly urgent scientific information emerging about the speed at which our global climate is changing, the world I imagined for 2030 appears to be less fictional than ever.

IFOA:  You have published graphic novels for young adults. Why did you use this medium to tell the story?

Mary Jennifer: I’ve published both graphic and traditional novels and novellas. The Daughters of Light series just seemed to fit the novel format, but it could definitely also translate into a graphic structure. Honestly, I’d love to see it on the big screen someday!

IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

payne-mary-jenniferMary Jennifer: The inspiration for this series came from so many different things. Most of the time, the germ of a story comes from my students, and the Daughters of Light series is no different. However, for the trilogy, I also was inspired by a plethora of ideas: the growing threat of climate change and the dismissal of this by certain politicians and special interest groups; Santerian beliefs about twins; by Christian and Islamic texts about the end of time; the need for more female superheroes, especially diverse superheroes, and the way in which our world has historically treated refugees and the shameful practice of “othering”. As my partner can attest, my mind is rarely quiet, except maybe when I am by the ocean.

IFOA:  What are the things you consider when devising young characters?

Mary Jennifer: There’s not a lot I consciously think about when devising my young characters. They kind of just form themselves in my mind. I have the great privilege of spending most of my time with young people, and am always amazed by their intelligence, resilience and courage. The students I teach are often navigating a huge amount of intersectionality in their lives. They inspire and teach me so much, and I could never express my gratitude. I am aware, when writing, that I am a white woman who, though from working-class background, is now pretty firmly middle-class and, thus, I occupy a place of privilege that is not necessarily earned. I try to really reflect on this when developing characters. I’ve always felt that one of my favorite characters, Jermaine, from my first novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, has a further story to tell and that the narrative needs to be set during the London riots of 2011. However, I don’t feel that is my story to tell. Maybe in collaboration, and certainly not in the first-person voice I usually use with my writing. I’d love to tell his story in collaboration with someone like Malorie Blackman. She’s such a consummate YA author.

 

 

 

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