Last month I had the chance to attend a meet and greet event at the new HarperCollins Canada offices in downtown Toronto. I live outside of the city so I can't often make it in to evening events on a weekday. However, I have a new job and we have a Toronto office so I made plans to work there for the day so I could walk a few blocks over to the event after work. Win all around!
I was excited for the event for all sorts of reasons. One was that I hadn't seen the new HarperCollins offices yet. A few fellow YA bloggers had been to a Frenzy event and I was a bit envious of the views they had. I settled myself into a window seat at the event, not really thinking about my fear of heights. Probably not the wisest decision as this was the view:
Pretty incredible though, right? I just kept telling myself not to look all the way down (after I had snapped this shot, of course) which was easier said than done as the windows were floor to ceiling. Amazing but a bit fear inducing for me!
The authors being featured at this event (which took place on May 2) were Joanna Goodman and Ellen Keith. Both women had recently published historical fiction novels. Joanna's, The Home for Unwanted Girls, released on April 17th and Ellen's, The Dutch Wife, on April 24th. The books were new but I had read both for Niagara Life, a magazine I review for. I really enjoyed both of them so I jumped at the chance to hear them speak and get signed copies of both books.
Check out the synopsis of each book on Goodreads:
The Home for Unwanted Girls
The Dutch Wife
I wasn't the only one who enjoyed these books either. Both women debuted on The Globe and Mail bestseller lists. Joanna at number 1 the week her book came out and Ellen, a week later, at number 2. How amazing is that?
|I believe this is actually as Kaiti announced Ellen debuting on|
the bestseller list. I love seeing how happy Joanna is for her.
Joanna said that she'd been working on this book for "half her life" and found it very difficult to find first-hand accounts of the orphans. She said it wasn't surprising because the children would not have received a formal education so their literacy would be limited. She did find one instance where a child had put together her story and talked to a journalist who, in turn, published an article. Joanna said that it was so helpful finding that book because it confirmed the perspective she had of the orphans.
|Ellen answering a question either from Kaiti (right) or the audience.|
The authors also went into more detail on how, exactly, the first seeds of their story were planted. Joanna's novel was kind of her mother's story and Maggie was written almost entirely as her mother (apart from the giving up a baby part of the novel). It was bittersweet for Joanna as her mom passed away before the book was published. Ellen wanted to write an homage to her grandparents who lived in the Netherlands during the war. While Marijka is spunky just like Ellen's grandmother was, Ellen's heroine is not really based on anyone in particular.
As is inevitable at events such as this, someone asked what advice the women would give to aspiring authors. Ellen said to never, ever give up. She also suggests finding other people who love reading and writing and have them read your work. That really helped keep her going. Joanna absolutely agreed and added that you need to have a thick skin as you'll have to learn to ignore every rejection. She also said that writing workshops have been the best thing for her career. Both women shared stories that showed how finding people you trust can be the best thing for your writing as they have more distance from the work itself and can sometimes provide a better perspective.
|The authors graciously signed all of our copies.|
|Two more signed books to add to my collection.|