Why do you write?
That’s a tough question, I don’t consciously know. I’ve been writing my whole life, since before I could actually write, in a way: I’d tell stories to my dad and he’d write them down for me. Telling stories just feels like it’s always been a part of who I am. I suppose I love adventure and escaping into other worlds, I love humor and absurdity. It’s all very exciting, and I like to create all that for both myself and others.
Why specifically for young people?
Well, first of all, I’m not really writing for young people. I’m writing the kinds of books I love, and I love these kinds of stories. These kinds of books allow for so much fun, whimsy and absurdity, and those are three of my favorite things. That said, I absolutely adore kids, and feel very much like I am still 10 years old. I get on great with that age range and enjoy spending time with them. So it makes sense, too, that I should therefore want to write for them.
Where did the idea for The Explorers series come from?
I’d say it was the concept of The Explorers Society itself that was the spark. There are actual places around the world that are similar and I find them fascinating – the idea of these buildings where explorers come and hang out, share stories of their adventures, where items from their explorations are displayed as in museum. I love all that. So I wanted to create a fantastical version, a version that could never really exist in real life. Of course, in order to do that I needed more than just a setting, I needed characters and a plot. But the setting was very much the catalyst.
I originally envisioned this as a five-book series, but sometimes stories take on a life of their own, and I can’t actually say for sure what the end result will be. It will be exciting to find out!
The Door in the Alley has a tongue-in-cheek tone to it. Was this a conscious decision?
Oh, absolutely. I enjoy humor, I think it has this remarkable ability to shine light on sometimes more complicated and even painful subjects while at the same time protecting you a bit as well from getting too stressed or too upset. I also find the world an absurd place, so, in general, I find it difficult to take things too seriously for too long.
Sebastian likes things to be well-ordered, stable and predictable. Evie is the opposite. How did you balance their personalities? Where do you fall along this spectrum?
I am both of them. You could say they are the two parts of my personality, really. I definitely have a lot of Sebastian when it comes to my general approach to life. I’m quite careful, I like routine and predictability. But I’m also an artist, and I also take big risks that way. I throw myself into things and just “go for it.”
If you could go exploring anywhere, where would you go?
Right now I’d really love to go to New Zealand. It just looks gorgeous.
Why do you think young readers will enjoy The Explorers?
Because it’s funny and exciting. I think the characters are very relatable, so you root for them. And I think the mystery definitely helps keep you turning the pages.
I’d say in that I am quite good at character development and dialogue. I think those characteristics of the world of drama are my two strengths.
What are you working on now?
Now I’m actually finishing up edits on the second book in the series and will be starting writing the third this summer. I also am doing a play here in Toronto over the summer, a fun Shakespeare parody called MACBETH’S HEAD.
Is there a book from your own youth that still resonates with you today?
Oh, yes, most of them, honestly. I feel almost more connected to those books than I do the books I read today. However, one book that’s really always stayed with me is Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume. I always deeply related to the constant make-believe she engaged in. I re-read that book a lot.