An accomplished Canadian author shared some insights into reading, writing, and how she gets her ideas, when she visited Granum school last week.
Kathy Stinson, author of everything from picture and non-fiction books, to biographies, short stories, anthologies, and horror, was at the school on Thursday talking to students from Granum as well as Stavely school.
Stinson opened by reading from her book “The Man with the Violin” which is based on the true story of violinist Joshua Bell holding an impromptu concert in a subway station to see what would happen.
Stinson was at the school to celebrate Book Week, alluding to the theme which was, “read to remember.”
“Sometimes what we read makes us remember something that happened to us or someone we know,” Stinson said.
Stinson asked students if they ever noticed something no one else did.
After hearing a few responses from students, Stinson suggested they might write a story about something they noticed that no one else did.
Then Stinson offered her own example. She was at her cottage, or cabin, on July 1 one year. She went to bed, but could not sleep. She heard a sound. There was someone on the lake in a canoe. It was two people singing “O Canada.”
Canada has so many landscapes, Stinson observed.
“They are all part of my country,” she said.
And all potential material for her writing.
Another time, Stinson was invited to a school, and they were having a party for the caretaker who had just learned to read.
That gave Stinson a thought.
“What would it be like to be a grown-up who can’t read?” Stinson said, adding it would be especially interesting given he worked in a place where reading was so important.
“I used my imagination to see what it would be like,” Stinson said, and she did some research, including talking to a caretaker.
The result was her book “King of the Castle.” She read a chapter in which Mr. Elliott, the caretaker, decided to go to the library to take reading lessons.
Afterwards, Stinson answered some questions from students.
One student asked if Stinson has a plan for her stories.
Only for some, Stinson responded, such as a history she wrote involving Montreal in the 19th Century.
“Sometimes I just have a little idea,” Stinson said. “I’ll start with that little idea and see where it takes me.”
Stinson also made a request of the students.
“Keep at least one story from every grade,” she said. “It’s really fun later to look at stories you wrote when you were younger.”
Stinson still has her own, and read students one she wrote in Grade 4 entitled, “My favourite TV program.”
She concluded by pointing out the most important thing in getting to be a better writer, and that is reading.
“It turned me into a writer without even me noticing,” she said.