Introducing Holly Kent, Ashley Spires, and Susin Nielsen

Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:08 PM | Lena Coakley

In our final post featuring 2014 Packaging Your Imagination speakers, we have a cornucopia of three very different book experts: Holly Kent, who will be speaking about social media, Ashley Spires, who will be speaking about graphic novels, and Susin Nielsen, who will be delivering our Claire Mackay memorial lecture entitled “Confessions of a Word Nerd.”

Holly Kent is the Community Manager for the National Reading Campaign, a not for profit dedicated to making Canada a reading nation. Holly manages the NRC’s entire web presence, including the blog Readerly, two interactive websites, and several social media accounts. Previously, Holly created the social media strategies for Scholastic Canada and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

Lena Coakley: The topic of your CANSCAIP presentation is: Social Media for Authors & Illustrators: Reaching Readers Online.  Can you give us a little taste of what you'll be talking about?  What are some tips or nuggets of wisdom you'll be sharing with PYI attendees?

Holly Kent: Because I'm expecting a wide range of social media abilities, I'll start with a social networking bootcamp. I'm going walk attendees through all the online tools that authors and illustrators have at their disposal, from Facebook to Tumblr to the 49th Shelf. I'll also share some secret (and less than secret) tools to achieve social media goals, like gaining followers, driving traffic to your website, or meeting likeminded individuals. I anticipate a lot of specific questions about social media, so please don't be shy. If I don't know the answer to a question I'll find it - probably by asking my Facebook friends. 

BC author, illustrator and cat enthusiast Ashley Spires is best known for her junior graphic novel series, Binky The Space Cat. She likes to make picture books too, namely 2014’s The Most Magnificent Thing and Edie’s Ensembles. Her work has won the Silver Birch Express, the Shining Willow and the Hackmatack awards.

Lena: What about you, Ashley? What will you be sharing with PYI attendees?

Ashley Spires: I notice that my presentation, The Accidental Graphic Novelist, is being billed as a writers workshop. That's quite humourous because I still don't totally consider myself a writer (thus the accidental part of the title.) I was, and will always be, an illustrator first. The world of graphic novels, where the words and the pictures are splitting the story-telling workload, is a perfect place for an excited illustrator/ hesitant writer to find a home. I'm going to talk a lot about that wonderful place where the pictures and the text overlap, because the real story exists in that crossover space. 

Lena: How do you stay motivated? 

Ashley: My trick to staying motivated may not be the healthiest, but it sure works. Basically, what I've accomplished thus far is never enough. I'm always wanting the next book to be better- whether that means that it sells better or earns more awards or I just plain think I did a better job than the last book. Maybe when I'm not so new to this career I will feel differently, but right now there is just so much to accomplish that I can't help but work, work, work! Which reminds me, I better get back to that painting...

Susin Nielsen is the author of the best-selling novels Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom and the Governor General’s Award-winner, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. Her new novel, We Are All Made of Molecules, will be published in Canada, the US and the UK in Spring 2015.

Lena: Can you give us a little peek into what you’ll be sharing at PYI, Susin?

Susin Nielsen: I'll be talking about my journey to becoming a writer, and along the way I -- an eleventh grade math dropout -- will also attempt to prove a mathematical equation. 

Words of wisdom: Malcolm Gladwell says it takes ten thousand hours to become an expert at something. I think this is mostly true - except, I'm pretty sure I've done ten thousand hours of writing, and (sorry) it doesn't get easier. That said - I do believe that the more you write, the better you get at your craft - or at least, better at sniffing out what isn't working. 

Lena: We’re all eagerly awaiting your next book.  Can you tell us about it?

Susin:  My new novel is called We Are All Made of Molecules. It comes out in spring 2015, and will be published in Canada, the US and the UK simultaneously - which is a first for me. I have two narrators, one of whom appeared in a smaller role in Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. It's about a blended family ... and loss, love and acceptance of differences. 

Lena: Thanks you three!  See you on Saturday!

There is LESS THAN ONE DAY left to sign up for PYI.  Registration closes at 11:59 tonight, Thursday the 16th.