I am delighted that James McCann has agreed to be this session’s guest speaker at my Writer For Children I class at Langara on March 20. He is going to speak about his work and also about writing fantasy fiction and the best authors in that genre. James is an incredibly energetic and inspiring teacher who has generously given me much helpful advice on how to teach creative writing.
Every time I teach the course I invite one of my colleagues to give a one-hour talk in exchange for the modest honorarium that Langara offers and a dinner on me at the All-you-can-eat Indian vegetarian buffet. So far we’ve had fantastic presentations from Melanie Jackson on mysteries, Debbie Hodge on nonfiction, Joan Stuchner on her work and now James on fantasy fiction.
My course surveys the many kinds of books an aspiring children’s writer might consider. Each week we look at something new, then try some in-class writing in that genre. On March 13 we are going to look at contemporary books inspired by fairy tales, including Dan Bar-el’s “Things are Looking Grimm, Jill”. We will even look at a few of the loopy episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s “Fractured Fairy Tales” on DVD. The scripts are very clever and funny.
One of my very favourite writers doing stories based on fairy tales is Susan Lowell who has written cowboy versions with titles like “Cindy Ellen: a wild western Cinderella” and “The bootmaker and the Elves”. The elves sneak in during the night to make the cutest cowboy boots for the poor bootmaker whose hungry wife is “as tall and skinny as a snake on stilts.”