Most of this site's functionality requires JavaScript to be enabled.

Invalid email/password
Log In
 
Canlit for kids Books recently had the opportunity to talk to Whistler, BC's Sara Leach. She recently released Penguin Days, the follow-up to her well-loved Slug  Days.
Canlit for Kids Books:
    Sara, your recent book Penguin Days is a follow up to your award-winning novel Slug Days, which features Lauren, a girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder as the main character. Did you know you would continue Lauren’s adventures in a follow-up book when you were writing Slug Days?

Sara Leach:
   No. In fact, I originally wrote Slug Days as a picture book. Gail Winskill, the publisher at Pajama Press, said she liked the story, but thought it would work better as a chapter book—and she was right. When my editor, Ann Featherstone, suggested I write a follow-up, I decided I wanted Lauren to travel out of her comfort zone. Since that includes almost anywhere other than home, I had lots of choice.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   Do any of the scenarios in your stories come from real events from your own childhood?

Sara Leach:
   Although there aren’t any specific events from my childhood in Penguin Days, I’ve drawn on my family in many ways throughout the book. For example, my grandmother’s name was Jocelyn (Joss), my kids and husband love pugs, and my dad was an expert “mooer”. One time he managed to get a whole herd of cows stampeding towards us by mooing at them. My sister and I were terrified! 


Canlit for Kids Books:
   What time of day do you most enjoy writing?

sara Leach:
   I do almost all of my writing first thing in the morning. Once the day gets started I get too distracted by all my other to-dos. The exception to this is the yearly writer’s retreat I attend with my critique group. We rent a cabin in Squamish and sit around a table writing for two days. Most people would think it looks like a terribly boring way to spend a weekend, but we look forward to it all year.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   Were you interested in creative writing from an early age or was it something you came to as an adult?

sara Leach:
   Even though I come from a family of writers, I was always more interested in math and science throughout my childhood. It wasn’t until I was in university and took an education course with a focus on writing that I discovered it could be fun.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   You are also a Teacher-Librarian – Where do you find the time for writing and do you have any advice for other aspiring librarian-writers out there?

Sara Leach:
   I work half-time as a Teacher-Librarian, which helps, but even when I worked more hours, I managed to write my manuscripts by setting aside 30 minutes each morning and writing two pages a day. It’s amazing how quickly the pages add up.

   My advice for aspiring writers: Get started! Make time for yourself to write, because nobody else will give you that time. And know you are way ahead of the 
game, because you’ve already read all that great children’s literature. When I teach aspiring writers I tell them to read 100 books in their genre. You’ve probably already done that.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   What was your most memorable book as a child?

Sara Leach:
   I loved Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox so much that when I reached the end I went right back to page one to read it again. Another favourite was The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I had to read it three times to fully understand it, but it spoke to the puzzle-lover in me.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   Do you have time to read? Which book(s) have you read that you really enjoyed recently?

Sara Leach:
   I always make time to read!  A few recent books for kids I’ve enjoyed are Refugee by Alan Gratz, The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, and The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue.  The adult book I’m currently reading is Refuge by Merilyn Simonds.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   What do you love most about being a writer?

Sara Leach:
   I love getting to know my characters to the point that they feel like real people who inhabit my world. I love it when my own writing makes me laugh. The best part of being a published writer is when I hear that one of my books has turned a reluctant reader on to reading.


Canlit for Kids Books:
   In your expert opinion, what are three ingredients that make a good children’s book?

Sara Leach:
   (1) Multi-faceted characters who (2) face an interesting, deep problem caused by their own choices or personality quirks and (3) resonate emotionally with me as a reader. And (3 ½) written in strong language that zips across the page.
 
Canlit for Kids Books would like to thank Sara Leach for taking part in our first Author Spotlight, and for her insightful and inspiring answers!

Check out more of Sara Leach's books: