Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with R. J. Anderson

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The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) is our newest interview series at Open Book, and gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Born in Uganda and raised in Ontario, R.J. Anderson has been travelling worlds both actual and imaginary since childhood. Now a resident of Stratford, this award-winning fantasy author tells Open Book about the rare book that made her cry, the book she's trying to get everyone she knows to read and the book that she wouldn't give to her 17-year-old self — because it would mean that self would be waiting 19 years for the sequel. You'll only have to wait a few days to read Rebecca's newest book: Quicksilver (Lerner Publishing Group) will be released on March 1, 2013.


The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, which probably accounts for my fondness for hedgehogs. I still have the complete Beatrix Potter collection in my library.

A book that made me cry:
I don’t usually get weepy when reading, but when I got to a certain point in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Catalyst, I dropped the book and sobbed brokenly for several minutes. Then I wrote her an e-mail accusing her of being an evil genius. I think she was pleased.

The first adult book I read:
The Lord of the Rings. I tackled it for the first time at eight, since I’d heard my father reading it aloud to my older brothers and was too impatient to wait for him to get to the end.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
James Herriot’s All Things Wise and Wonderful. The story about Cedric the boxer hound made me laugh so hard I had to muffle my whoops with a pillow.

The book I have re-read many times:
C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. Every time I come back to it, I discover something new to love. (Usually it involves Puddleglum.)

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
To Kill a Mockingbird. Somehow it never came up in any of my high school courses, even though everybody else I know had to study it. I keep meaning to get around to it one day.

The book I would give my 17-year-old self, if I could:
I’d like to say Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen of Attolia, but that would mean my teenaged self would have to wait 19 years for the next book in the series, and that would be cruel. The actual six-year wait was torturous enough. (But also worth it, because The King of Attolia is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.)

The best book I read in the past six months:
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. Since then I’ve been pushing it on everybody I know.

The book I plan on reading next:
I’ve just started reading Veronica Roth’s Insurgent aloud to my son, and after that’s finished we’ll be starting Megan Crewe’s The Lives We Lived, since we enjoyed the first books in both those series.

A possible title for my autobiography:
I’m quite fond of a line from a hymn by Josiah Conder: “This world of ours, and worlds unseen / and thin the boundary between.” I think Worlds Unseen nicely describes my imaginative life as both a child and as a grown-up fantasy author, as well as my lifelong interest in theology.

R.J. (Rebecca) Anderson was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely. Her first children's fantasy novel Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter (HarperCollins Children’s, 2009) was longlisted for the Carnegie Award (as Knife, its UK title) and named one of the Canadian Library Association's Honour Books for 2011. It and sequels Wayfarer aka Rebel (2010), Arrow (2011) and Swift (2012) have become UK bestsellers along with her psychological teen thriller Ultraviolet (Carolrhoda Lab, 2011), which was shortlisted for both the 2012 Andre Norton Award and the Sunburst Award for Canadian SF. Quicksilver, the companion novel to Ultraviolet, will be released in Canada on March 1, 2013. For more details visit her site at

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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