Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

IFOA Ontario Interview Series: Polly Horvath

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IFOA: Ontario is the International Festival of Authors' touring component, bringing authors from IFOA?s roster of the best contemporary writers from
around the globe to a number of Ontario locations.

Today Open Book talks with Polly Horvath, author of Northward to the Moon (Groundwood), as part of our IFOA Interview series.

Open Book:

Tell us about the book from which you will be reading at IFOA Ontario.

Polly Horvath:

I will be reading from Northward to the Moon. This is the sequel to My One Hundred Adventures, the story of Jane and her family who travel from Saskatchewan to northern B.C. to Nevada and back to Massachusetts. I will also read from The Trolls, a collection of stories about a Vancouver Island family. And finally from a new book coming out in February, 2012, called Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire! It is written by Mrs. Bunny and I translated it from the rabbit. It is her first book and my first translation.


To what aspect of the IFOA: Ontario are you most looking forward?


I most look forward to meeting readers and writers.


Tell us about a favourite spot or area in Ontario.


When I was in my teens I went to ballet summer camp in Elliot Lake, Ontario. It changed the course of my life. I lived in Michigan and because of my time at Elliot Lake I ended up moving to Canada. We danced, of course, but we also swam in pristine beautiful lakes. I loved it.


What is your favourite part of touring?


When you tour people tell you odd quirky stories about the way your work has touched them. Somehow you don?t get these stories in fan mail. Once in Atlanta a woman told me her best friend was rooming with her at college and read The Canning Season. On the basis of that she quit school, moved to Maine and started an organic farm. I loved that story. But I wouldn?t have ever known had I not been on tour.

Another time I did a reading in Flagstaff, Arizona to an audience of 11 year old girls and one middle-aged man in work clothes and oily work boots. He had a scrunched up copy of An Occasional Cow in his hands. At the signing he came up and told me that this book had gotten him through all the bad times in his life. I was perplexed because An Occasional Cow is a light-hearted romp. I couldn?t imagine it getting anyone through anything. But this is the book the man read through hard times. It made me realize that you touch people far away in ways you could never guess. I think of that whenever I get the urge to throw it all over and go to work at Walmart.


What were some of your early experiences with public readings? Is there a learning curve to reading in public?


What I learned was that not everything works with every audience. You have to feel an audience out sometimes and adjust accordingly.


What is your writing environment like?


Messy. Piles and piles of paper everywhere. Post-its everywhere. Pages of notes. At the end of a book I clean up my office and then the mess starts again.


What are you reading right now?


The Edge of Physics by Anil Ananthaswamy.


What can you tell us about your next project?


I am in the middle of translating Mrs. Bunny?s next book.

Polly Horvath has written many award-winning books for children. The Trolls was named a National Book Award Finalist, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book. Everything on a Waffle was also named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book as well as a Newbery Honor Book. The Canning Season won the National Book Award. Polly's most recent novels are The Pepins and Their Problems and The Vacation. She lives in Metchosin, British Columbia.

For more information about Northward to the Moon please visit the Groundwood Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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