Anita Daher taking notes by Nahanni Canyon (Rudy Kraus)
Anita believes that her own writing is better when she really gets to know her setting. On October 21 and 22, she will show participants how to move forward with their novel through workshops and discussions.
SCENE asked Anita how 'place' has infused her writing over the years.
Growing up, I learned "place" was a shifting thing. From the time my tiny toddler feet touched the red soil of Prince Edward Island they began moving, moving, west and north, through Moose Jaw's fields of wind-whispering wheat, between mountains of sharp-scented sulphur, export-ready on the edge of the Hudson Bay, into woods here and there where hidden things sparked imaginings that carried me even further.
New schools meant time spent on a playground edge watching Red Rover send classmates over; mining ice-crystal "diamonds" beneath the snow's crust in an arctic hamlet where snowdrifts reached roof-tops; stretched on damp moss, hoping with cracker pinched between patient fingers to coax a furry critter from under a shed before my entire body turned numb.
The child me slipped easily into the skin of "observer." Persistent. Quiet. What an education for a writer! I felt my life lived as if between pages of story, imagination my playmate.
It is too easy as the child becomes adult to step away from, and out of, this play. A joy of reading is to fall back in, and it is a writer's duty to assist. A reader must see and feel a world in order to become one with character.
Whenever possible, I see, touch and smell wherever my next novel is set. I am driven to write it right. I've ignored flight nerves to fly by floatplane into lands not touched by the last ice age. I've read dusty pages in small museums that care. I take only copies of photos and journals from wanderers now passed. I've stood still on a North Rockies mountain between mighty legs of milling beasts, the largest free-range horse-herd in Canada.
"Place" is also about what lies beneath. It is tangible and not, morphing in light and perception. It is sometimes a thing that breathes; it is story.
Anita Daher (Jeannine Lill)
When she's not teaching, presenting, or working on her own stories, Anita edits teen novels for Great Plains Publications. Anita was Aqua Books' inaugural writer-in-residence in 2008.
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