Michael Redhill on Saving Houdini


Michael Redhill has written a new novel - but this time, it's one for kids. Saving Houdini is a classic adventure for young readers about a Toronto boy named Dashiell who is sent back in time after a magic trick gone wrong. Dashiell, with the help of his new 1920s friend Walt, must find his way back home. He might even save Houdini's life along the way! Redhill stopped by CBC Radio's Metro Morning earlier this month to talk about it:

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Redhill decided to write a book for kids after a friend who worked in publishing encouraged him to do so. "She kept saying to me, 'Your kids are getting older, they're not going to want to keep reading,'" he said. "I finally took up the challenge and wrote this book."

He did it at just the right time. His 10-year-old son demanded to be his father's first reader. Redhill printed the first draft, put it in a binder and gave it to him for review. Three days later, he returned the manuscript to his father, declaring the book "boring."

"That actually helped. I needed to know that," Redhill said. "Kids always want their stories to move. They want things to happen."

Although Redhill is an accomplished author - he's won several awards for his work and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2001 - he found writing for kids difficult. "It was challenging to find the right tone ... to write for children in a way that they'll really get into the book and want to stay with it."

It helped that the book was set in Toronto, which is where Redhill grew up and has used as a setting in many other works. "I like the idea of writing for fellow Torontonians and bringing parts of the city that we have erased through progress back to life."