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Writers at school


Host an Artist or Writer.

Catherine Austen

Children's literature


Catherine Austen

I am an author of books for young people of all ages. My first novel, Walking Backward, was a finalist for the 2010 QWF Prize for children’s and young adults’ literature and for the Canadian library association’s 2010 Book of the year for children award. In 2011, I published 3 more books : My cat Isis (a picture book illustrated by Virginie Egger), 26 tips for surviving grade 6 (a middle-grade novel) and All good children (a teen novel). I am a member of QWF, Canscaip, and SCBWI. I have given readings and presentations based on my books to students from kindergarten through grade 6.

Suggested reading*

Walking backward (Orca Book publishers, 2009)
26 tips for surviving grade 6 (James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2011.)
All good children (Orca Book publishers, 2011)

*These titles have been suggested by the author based on the activities that he/she proposes to students.
It is, however, up to teachers to verify whether the titles are appropriate for their groups (age and education level, specific context, etc.).
Teaching staff are invited to contact the author for clarification on this aspect and assistance in preparing their groups for his/her visit.

Proposed approach and type of activities

Depending on the goals of the teacher, I can read from any of my books and talk about the processes involved in their writing, editing, and publication, or I can give a formal presentation and writing workshop on any of the following topics :

1. SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER: on the profession of writing and what it takes to be successful as an artist and a wage-earner (for grades 5 and up) ;

2. GENERATING IDEAS: techniques to develop basic ideas into full characters and conflicts (for grades 5 and up) ;

3. CREATING A WORLD GONE WRONG: developing settings, heroes, premises and plots in dystopian fiction (for secondary students, with a reading from my teen novel All good children) ;

4. JOURNALLING: the uses of a journal as a personal record, a classroom tool, and a literary form (adaptable to most ages) ;

5. NO JOKE: the value of humour in writing and the writing life (any age) ;

6. WRITING GREAT DIALOGUE: when to use dialogue, developing authentic speaking voices, and what not to say to create memorable exchanges between characters.

Examples of activities

  • All workshop will include some presentation time and some student writing/response time.
  • Students may bring a relevant piece of writing (e.g. a dialogue exchange to a workshop on dialogue, a funny scene to a workshop on humour) or they can develop a piece from scratch during the workshop.
  • For example, in a workshop on journaling, I would read from my novel Walking backward, introduce more examples of journal fiction from picture books to teen novel, and discuss the ways in which journal fiction differs from typical first-person narrative. Students would then be asked to fictionalize a scene in journal form, working in groups or independently (at the teacher’s discretion). Students would then share their work  and together we would analyse several pieces for the specific elements of journal fiction and what works best in each piece.

Special conditions

A laptop/screen or an overhead projector can assist with some presentations.

For information

Catherine Austen
Phone : 819 682-9767
Email :

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