A New Identity

I am very pleased to announce that my first column for a new writing gig was posted today. This op-ed on the need for public transit has just been printed in the newly minted Kitchener Post, and it appears in both the print and online editions.

My column in the Kitchener Post was a happy accident. I happened to see on Twitter someone announcing that their own article had been printed in the new local weekly and I wrote to congratulate him and, incidentally, ask him how he got his assignment. He gave me the name of the Post’s editor, the Post’s editor contacted me, I submitted writing samples, and now I have to come up with 500 or so words every week.

It’s a good feeling to be writing for newspapers again. I had a bit of a dry spell after The Business Edge restructured. Though my time was quickly taken up with non-fiction books for kids, and Icarus Down, there’s something special about writing for the local news. Issues are more personal. When I was interviewing individuals for articles in The Business Edge, there was always a wealth of interesting people to meet, and it was fun listening to the passion they had about what they were being interviewed about.

The Kitchener Post is a Metroland newspaper, part of a conglomerate that owns and operates the Waterloo Region Record, The Toronto Star and Toronto’s Metro newspaper, whom I’ve worked with before. I quite like the small weekly newspapers (such as the Waterloo Chronicle, also owned by Metroland). I feel that they fit a niche that gives smaller communities a better sense of their own identity than what larger papers can provide. The economy has proven hard for the small town papers, and while the larger newspapers are great for giving us a window on the world, sometimes it feels as though local issues don’t receive as much of a focus. The Chronicle and now the Kitchener Post give me a smaller window, with which I can get a better focus on what the community is thinking. I think these papers are important in that respect, and as Waterloo Region builds its identity separate from the megalopolis of Toronto, the Post’s success will be good for our identity.

Long live the Post, and be sure to check out my second column with them which, hopefully, will run next week.

Erin’s good week continues. Yesterday, we discovered that Plain Kate has been nominated for both the Rocky Mountain Book Award and the Sunburst Award.

The Rocky Mountain Book Award is a childrens’ participatory award, where school kids throughout Alberta have a chance to read the books up for nomination and vote on which book is their favourite. It’s the local equivalent to Ontario’s Forest of Reading Awards and the BC Red Cedar Award. Erin is very happy to know that kids will be checking out her book out there.

The Sunburst Award selects the best Canadian “literature of the fantastic”, with the winners announced on September 14 at the Harbourfront Reading Series. Here, Plain Kate is up against such contenders as Robert Paul Weston’s Dust City and Charles de Lint’s The Painted Boy. Esteemed company to be sure.

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