Word on the Street is heaven for book lovers. It a chance to meet authors, buy books, become exposed to different publishing houses, collect swag and visit booths on everything from Buddhism to book binding.
I’ve enjoyed Kenneth Oppel’s books in the past, my favourite being The Boundless, so I jumped at the chance to hear him talk about his latest book Every Hidden Thing, dubbed a cross between Indiana Jones and Romeo and Juliet. It’s always interesting to hear authors talk about their books and writing process and this was no exception. It’s also cool to meet to the person behind the books you’ve read; Oppel was passionate, thoughtful and funny.
The session started with Oppel giving a summary of the book, and then reading two exerts – one from each of the main character’s POVs. He really brought the story to life and managed to both give us a great sense of Rachel and Sam’s personalities, and also to get us hooked on the story. Following the reading, the host asked a few questions about the book and then the floor was open to the audience. The questions covered a whole range of subjects from the conception of the story to its contents to its final stages of completion.
Why dinosaurs? Oppel wondered what it would have been like to be among the first people to discover these magnificent dinosaurs before they became as commonplace as the are today. In fact, Black Beauty, the dinosaur in his book actually exists! He then talked about why he loves the 18th century so much saying that it’s an exiting period of discovery, and that the clothes are awesome (I agree completely!) In researching the book, Oppel actually spent time at an archeological dig and even got to take a dinosaur tooth home as a souvenir (sadly, he didn’t bring it with).
When asked how he keeps his characters distinct and easily identifiable when using first person narration, Oppel explained that he makes sure to give them distinct personalities. While writing he keeps their intentions and interests in mind to reveal how they see the world and even gives them distinct speech patterns. On his writing process, Oppel explained that he keeps a book filled with ideas that sometimes sit there for years before he decides to develop them into a book. The idea stage is his favourite part of writing because he gets to decide what he’s including in the final story and many possibilities are available. He also noted that sometimes what satisfies an author in the final story doesn’t always satisfy the reader (which is interesting to think about).
In all, it was a great experience and I look forward to going again next year! Hopefully, I’ll get a chance read Every Hidden Thing soon and will be sure to post a review as soon as I do.