Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover Romans/Snowmare

Life Writing: Omnivorous and Materially Fascinated

By Cam Scott

"These are texts written in overlay to an actual world, where an author’s subjectivity refracts surroundings. They als …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Alix Ohlin

Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Alix Ohlin

By Trevor Corkum

Our 2019 special Giller Prize edition of The Chat begins with our conversation with Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens.

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Book Cover They Say Blue

Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Discover which books were inspired by history, by questions, by rap lyrics, by beach glass, true crime podcasts, and mor …

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Book Cover Butterfly Park

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

By Julie Booker

Great kids books in conversation with each other. 

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Book Cover A Girl Like That

Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 1

By Kerry Clare

Discover what books were inspired by an East German museum, the song "What a Fool Believes," two vibrant communities on …

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Book Cover Honey

Why Can't I Let You Go?

By Brenda Brooks

The author of Honey, a dark story of obsession, suggests books she just can't quit. 

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7 Books to Promote Leadership Skills in Your Students

7 Books to Promote Leadership Skills in Your Students

By Allison Hall

A wise principal once told me that whoever is doing the work, is doing the learning. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for stu …

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Book Cover Tawaw

Food Writing: From My Bookshelves and Browser

By Jennifer Cockrall-King

A jumping-off list for a larger discussion of authors and thinkers who inspire us to think more deeply about the food we …

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The Recommend for Fall 2019: RomComs, Mysteries, Shoe Sellers, and Icons of CanLit

The Recommend for Fall 2019: RomComs, Mysteries, Shoe Sellers, and Icons of CanLit

By Kiley Turner

This week we're pleased to present the picks of writers Ian Colford (A Dark House and Other Stories), Ariela Freedman (A …

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Book Cover Set-Point

The Edges of Identity

By Fawn Parker

8 books dealing with issues of identity, sexuality, and mental health. 

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Life Writing: Omnivorous and Materially Fascinated

ROMANS/SNOWMARE comprises the first layer of a potentially interminable life-poem, to which I add at least one sentence per day, cribbing objects of lexical interest and glossing my experience, however coyly. For me, the project originated out of a pressing sense that I was writing all the time without really finishing any discrete poems per se, filling notebook after notebook with sentences of compressed poeticity awaiting future attention. I decided to simply compile them and call their accidental patterns and repetitions the text, and with that large scale repository in mind, I’ve been writing assiduously ever since. 

The following books differ greatly, but each comprises a point of inspiration or departure for an omnivorous and materially fascinated life-writing, from macro-level lyric to diaristic prose. Neither memoir nor novel, neither epic nor lyric, these are texts written in overlay to an actual world, where an author’s subjectivity refracts surroundings. They also happen to be some of my favourite books of all-time. 

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The Martyrology, by bpN …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Alix Ohlin

Alix_Ohlin-2018

Our 2019 special Giller Prize edition of The Chat begins with our conversation with Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens.

The Giller Prize jury praises the novel:

“Chronicling the wayward trajectories of two very different but equally fascinating Montreal-bred sisters from childhood into midlife, Alix Ohlin’s novel, true to its title, quietly refutes monolithic tenets that regard identity as something fixed and singular. Dividing its narrative between Canada and the U.S., the urban and the wild, solitude and solidarity, creativity and caregiving, Dual Citizens is a long-term sororal love story and affecting double-portrait of female self-actualization untethered from established paradigms of ambition.”


Alix Ohlin is the author of four books, including the novel Inside, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and many other publications. Born and raised in Montreal, she lives in Vancouver, where she chairs the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia.

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THE CHAT WITH ALIX OHLIN

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Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 2

Here's Part 2 of the Seeds of a Story series, which tells you the stories behind the stories nominated for the CCBC Book Awards, which were handed out in Toronto this week. Check out Seeds of a Story Part 1 here, and also the list of award winners. Congratulations to everybody involved!

And now read on to discover which books were inspired by history, by questions, by rap lyrics, by beach glass, true crime podcasts, and more! 

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Wolfe in Shepherd's Clothing, by Counio and Gane

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

The killer is often the starting point for our murder mysteries: we ask ourselves who they are, who they kill, and why. But we also build on what’s come before, seeking variation in motives, methods and victims from book to book. In Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing, the third book of the Shepherd & Wolfe mysteries, we knew we needed a brutal “bad guy,” one far more dangerous than anyone our boys had yet encountered.

Our concept of the killer evolved during the outlining and writing process. When we started writing the third book, we decided the villain would be someone hiding their identity, swooping in from another country to make their kills. When we shared this concept with our publisher, she made a suggestion that reshaped the entire plan, and …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Bird Child, by Nan Forler, illustrated by Francois Thisdale, is a poignant story of a girl who witnesses bullying. Eliza is like a bird—tiny and able to “fly.” From her vantage point, she can clearly see all that goes on around her. She can also look up and see possibility. When she witnesses the new girl, Lainey, being teased because of her straw hair and frayed coat, Eliza does nothing. She watches Lainey’s excitement about school waning with each passing day and still she does nothing. One day Lainey doesn’t show up for school and Eliza realizes what she needs to do—show her classmate how she too can fly.  

Lucy M. Falcone’s I Didn’t Stand Up, illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon, addresses a similar topic. A boy regrets not standing up to all different types of bullying (including against gay and trans classmates) and finally finds strength in numbers. 

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Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 1

This week, the CCBC Book Awards, celebrating the best of children's literature in Canada, will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Part Two appears later this week.

Read on to discover what books were inspired by an East German museum, the song "What a Fool Believes," two vibrant communities on opposite coasts, and one writer's son's important question. 

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Aftermath, by Kelley Armstrong

Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the John Spray Mystery Award

The “aftermath” in the title is the aftermath of a school shooting and how it affected both the sister of a shooter and the brother of a victim. The story seed came from an article about the online and real-life harassment a sibling’s shooter endured. I knew parents of shooters received intense scrutiny and negative attention—I’d recently listened to an interview with one parent—but the sibling relationship was an angle I hadn’t considered. I was extremely wary of using an actual shooting in a thriller, but dealing only with the aftermath seemed like a good way to tackle a sensitive subject, and my editors agreed. 

It takes over two years for my books to go fr …

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