#TuesdayTalk with Monique Polak. Monique’s new novel, Learning the Ropes, launches this May and is part of the Orca Limelights series for kids who love the performing arts.
Monique, you’ve published over a dozen books with Orca. Where do you get your story ideas from?
I get my story ideas from the many young people in my life. I have been teaching at Marianopolis College here in Montreal for over thirty years, so I am surrounded by young people. I also believe in eavesdropping–so I get some of my ideas from listening in on kids’ conversations! If I sound snoopy it’s because I AM!!
Do you have a writing ritual?
I start every single day with three pages of three writing in my journal. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I have only skipped one day (when I had the flu). Then I go for a run, tidy my house, and either go to teach or go upstairs to write. Even when I am really busy with teaching, I try to carve out a little time to write (or to revise my writing) every day.
What’s a sure sign you’ve picked up a good book?
Great characters who feel as real as the people I know in daily life. And I look for a story that makes me forget who I am for a while.
Have you had an odd job in the past? What was it?
My first job was at a donut counter. The boss used to count the donuts at the end of my shift to make sure I didn’t eat any. One night I got fed up and I told him, “I don’t even like your lousy donuts!”
What one place in the world would you most like to visit?
I want to go to Berlin. They say it’s a great city for art and history. Also, because my mom is a Holocaust survivor (my book What World Is Left is based on her experiences in a Nazi concentration camp), I know that I would get an even deeper understanding of the history of Nazism by visiting Berlin.
Are you a fan of any books or tv shows some might consider ‘guilty pleasures’? Tell us!
I have to admit that I enjoyed the Gossip Girls books. I read them expecting to hate them, but instead, well, I got hooked!!
Favourite board game: go!
I still like Snakes & Ladders.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Write write write and read read read. Also, expect obstacles along the way. The only reason I became a published author is because I didn’t give up along the way.
How or when did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I think I always knew! I am HOOKED on stories. I used to hide under my parents’ dining room table and listen in on the conversation. I have always been super interested in discovering people’s secrets. I told you I was SNOOPY!
Monique Polak has written many novels for young adults, including her historical novel, What World Is Left, which won the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. In addition to writing award-winning books for youth, Monique Polak teaches English and Humanities at Marianopolis College in Montreal, Quebec, and also works as a freelance journalist. Monique lives in Montreal with her husband, a newspaper man.