Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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In Conversation With: Liz Bugg on the Personal and Public Performance of a Writer

Liz Bugg, author of Red Rover (Insomniac Press)

Liz Bugg is a lifelong performer: musician, actor, writer and teacher, the last of which I would argue is one of the most exhausting gigs imaginable. (No fourth wall to hide behind when you're standing at the front of a classroom.) I met with Liz to record her reading a short passage from her debut mystery Red Rover (Insomniac Press), and we got to chatting about music and the place of performance in our lives as writers.

Julie Wilson: Last winter, you followed my Twitter trials as I tried to learn the guitar. You have an extensive performance background—you actually taught guitar at one time. I joked that I wanted to learn the guitar to keep company with all the lonely campfires in the world. What first drew you to the instrument?

Liz Bugg: I became interested in the guitar, when I was about fifteen. Up to that point my musical focus had been primarily piano. I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by music. I guess you could say it was the focal point of my family. so when I was five years old, I was carted off to the conservatory to follow in my siblings’ footsteps.
 

The guitar was my idea. It was the 60s, and I was tired of playing classical piano. I was really into the whole folk music thing: Peter, Paul and Mary; Ian and Sylvia; people like that. We happen …

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"A triumph of imagination..."

Cover Plain Kate

The winners of the 2011 Canadian Children's Book Awards were announced on Tuesday October 4 at a gala event in Toronto. Erin Bow took the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for Plain Kate, a novel about a girl whose wood-carving skills mark her as a witch, and which the judges proclaimed "a triumph of imagination."

Book Cover I Know Here

The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award went to I Know Here by Laurel Crozer and Matt James, (and which was one of the books that Andrew Larsen read on his summer vacation). Of I Know Here, the judges noted: "The centre of this child’s universe is a trailer camp in the northern wilderness, rendered in all its details with brilliant harmony between Croza’s affecting, naturalistic words and James's evocative, childlike paintings."

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science was winner of the Norma Fleck Award …

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Penguin author Peggy Blair on rejection, persistence, and how Ian Rankin changed her life.

The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair (Penguin).

Peggy Blair was a lawyer for more than thirty years. A recognized expert in Aboriginal law, she also worked as a criminal defence lawyer and Crown prosecutor. Blair spent a Christmas in Old Havana, where she watched the bored young policemen on street corners along the Malecón, visited Hemingway’s favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito. A former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Peggy is named in Canadian Who's Who. She currently lives in Ottawa where she works in real estate. Visit her online at www.peggyblair.com.

About The Beggar's Opera: In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water—much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecon. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem—Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that m …

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John Lawrence Reynolds on a Return to Fiction after Almost a Decade

Beach Strip, by John Lawrence Reynolds (HarperCollins).

Beach Strip is John Lawrence Reynolds' first foray back into fiction in almost a decade, and he steps back into the waters by placing the reader on a beach they won't leave for most of the book. I talked to Reynolds about what he's been doing in the meantime—there's been no shortage of writing—as well as which Canadian books evoke a strong sense of place for him as a reader.

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Julie Wilson: Some of your other notable titles are all non-fiction, Free Rider, which won the National Business Book Award, as well as Bubbles, Bankers & Bailouts, and Shadow People, on secret societies. Two questions on this. One, you incorporate narrative elements into your non-fiction, such as The Naked Investor, which includes real-life anecdotes in an effort to expose the dark side of the investment industry. That sense of reveal, and casting some brokers and advisers as greedy embezzlers, these are the same tools used to create fictional characters. Was that to make financial matters more relatable to the reader?

John Lawrence Reynolds: In researching and writing Free Rider, which traced the embezzlement of millions of dollars from trusting individuals, I heard tragic stories of fraud and deception, and decided to gather several in a book, which became The Naked Investor. We can …

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Creating an Unconventional Detective Heroine: An Interview With Robin Spano

Robin Spano's detective protagonist, Clare Vengel, has been described as "sexy, sharp-tongued, and smart as hell ... a fully three-dimensional badass" (Owen Laukkannen) and as "an older, less formulaic, slightly slutty grown-up Nancy Drew" (FNord Inc.) She's now captivating readers in the third book of Spano's series, Death's Last Run; we talk to Spano about what it's like to write Vengel and genre in this interview.

Kiley Turner: As a female author writing a female protagonist, are you conscious of gender stereotypes when you’re writing Clare?

Robin Spano: Clare is sexually adventurous, which I think is typical of twenty-somethings today. That throws some readers off—they're used to James Bond, but not women with healthy sexual appetites who take the lead in relationships. She's a great mechanic; she can shine in a man's world that way. I'm not conscious of gender conventions while writing, but I am committed to letting Clare be fully herself, gender roles be damned. Still, I had fun throwing her a cover role in Death Plays Poker that forced her to wear makeup and high heels. She fought, but she wore them well.

KT: How much do you think of genre conventions when writing and how much do you go off the beaten track?

RS: I break one major rule: the hero is supposed …

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