25th Trillium Award

On Writing, with William Bell

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Orillia-based author William Bell talks to Open Book about writing for young adults and finding a sequel to his award-winning novel, Stones, where he wasn't looking for one. The result is the novel Fanatics, which has just been released with Doubleday Canada.

William Bell will be signing copies of Fanatics from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Manticore Books in Orillia on Friday, May 27th. Visit our Events page for details.

Open Book:

Tell us about your new book, Fanatics.

William Bell:

When Garnet Havelock accepts a job at the secluded Corbizzi estate, his new employer, the eccentric Mrs. Stoppini, insists that all details of their agreement, as well as his assigned tasks, remain secret. Garnet soon finds out why. There is something not quite right about the manner of the late professor’s death; there is something threatening about the library where he is to work. Together with Raphaella, Garnet must get to the bottom of the mystery in which he has become entangled.


Fanatics is the sequel to your award-winning YA novel, Stones. Did you know when you were writing Stones that you would want to return to Garnet Havelock?


I have often been asked by readers to write a sequel to Stones, and just as often I said I didn’t want to. Well, so much for that. I got an exciting idea for another story about Garnet and Raphaella without looking for it. The result is Fanatics.


What do you enjoy the most about writing novels that entwine present-day characters with historical circumstances?


I’m one of those history buffs who believes that in many ways the past is always with us, and that what and who we are as individuals and societies is the result of what went on before. The connections between than and now are fascinating to explore. In Fanatics, I have two related parallel stories, one happening in the now, one in the past and impinging on the now.


What does your average writing day look like?


My writing days are sporadic. I go long periods between books without writing anything. When I’m working on a book, I may spend an hour one day and six or seven the next, depending on what I’m doing (composing or editing) and how the story is flowing.


What advice would you give to writers working on their first YA novel?


There is nothing unique about a YA novel: a first novel is a first novel. If you’ve begun a novel, then something is driving you forward. Believe in that something; don’t give up; and don’t be afraid.


Tell us about the literary community in your home town of Orillia. What do you enjoy the most about being a writer in that town?


Well, this is where I say that I am a private person — not quite reclusive, but certainly not social. I and Ting-xing pretty much keep to ourselves, so we don’t know much about the literary community. Orillia has a writers’ group and it hosts the Leacock Festival every year.


Will we meet Garnet and Raphaella again? What are you working on now?


Considering what I said in my answer to #3, I can’t say that we won’t meet them again. Right now I’m thinking about a different story, but it’s not developed enough to say I’m working on anything.

William Bell’s YA novels have been translated into nine languages and have won a number of awards, among them the Manitoba Readers’ Choice Award, the Mr. Christie’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award and the Canadian Librarians’ Association Award. He lives in Orillia, Ontario with author Ting-xing Ye.

For more information about Fanatics please visit the Random House/Doubleday Canada website.

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

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