With Over 12,000 School Visits, Eric Walters Visits the Stratford Writers Festival
From October 20—22, 2017, the Stratford Writers Festival will take over Stratford, Ontario, as some of Canada’s top literary and creative talents come together for this unique three-day festival. With the festival rapidly approaching, we caught up with attending author Eric Walters to ask him a few questions about his latest projects, and why literary festivals are important to the Canadian artistic community.
To hear more from Eric, click here to purchase tickets to his upcoming Stratford Writers Festival panel entitled Past, Present, and Uncertain Future with Richard Scrimger and Shane Peacock.
Why do you feel it’s important to meet readers at events such as the Stratford Writers Festival?
Meeting your readers gives you feedback about your stories and it helps to make them better. My first 25 novels were written for my class and were based on curriculum. For example, I wrote The Bully Boys when I taught grade 7 because the War of 1812 is taught that year. Chapter by chapter I’d read it to them as I was writing and their feedback would help to shape the book.
What is your favourite part about attending writers festivals or literary events?
It gives me the opportunity to be a festival participant. I watch other people present, interact with people whose writing I admire. I get to be a better writer.
In January 2014, the Globe and Mail’s Mark Medley referred to you as “the Lebron James of school visits.” What is it about school visits that you enjoy most?
I think I’ve done about 12,000 presentations over the past 22 years. I seem to only go to wonderful schools and speak to great students. It’s pretty amazing to share what you love with people. To help them to become better writers, more interested writers. I try to present beyond my books. I talk about my orphanage, heroes, trying to inspire people to understand the potential and greatness that exists within all of us. The conversations afterwards with students and staff are always great. I rehearse what I’m working on, get feedback, and new ideas. One of the books I’m going to work on–three or four down the line–was inspired by a question after a presentation. Plus, I get to laugh, make people laugh, be playful, and they pay me pretty well. What’s not to like?
How do you react to a young adult who comes up to you and says, “I remember reading your books when I was in grade 6!”?
That makes me so happy! It happens more and more these days. Teachers often come up to me and say, ‘You’re the reason I started reading,’ giving me details about their favourite book. How can that not be great.
Are you working on any projects right now?
I have a board book and a novel coming out September 2017. In 2018, I am releasing two novels and three picture books. Three more picture books and two novels–one cowritten with my friend Kathy Kacer–are being ‘shopped around’ for a publisher right now.
The novel I’m presently writing is a sci-fi/romance/adventure–tentatively called One of A Kind–and is based on changing brain functioning to create a new species of humans. I’ve read so many books and academic articles on brain functioning. I have a neurologist as a consultant too. I’m playing with the space between fiction and science fiction and that space is narrowing by the day. It may be the most complex thing I’ve ever tried to write.
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