Tish Cohen, a bestselling writer of young adult and adult novels, paid a visit to NWT Centennial Library last week.
While many such appearances involve the author reading her book, this Toronto writer got some of the 15 or so member audience to read along on March 26,
“I think it’s always more fun when the presentation is more interactive,” Cohen said afterwards, adding that included inviting members of the audience to join her in reading from the screenplay based on her novel Town House.
That included Bryson Asels, who took on the voice of a character.
“I learned lots,” said Asels, who said he fell right into the character. “It was almost like I was an actor. It just clicked.”
The 26-year-old admitted to having dreams of being a writer.
Cohen’s novels also include The Search Angel, The Truth About Delilah Blue, Little Black Lies and Inside Out Girl. Most are for adults, but some are targeted at younger readers.
“This is the first time I’ve brought my own script because I only recently wrote the Town House script,” Cohen said of her visit to the North. “I just thought it would be more fun for the audience than sitting there listening to me read for too long.”
In particular, she wanted to show the difference between a novel and a screenplay, noting they are written and constructed differently.
The author has three movies based on her work in development right now, along with an original television series.
In her travels, Cohen meets many people who want to write.
“I think more people think they have a novel in them than a screenplay,” she said.
However, she said most of them don’t write because they feel they are not special enough and that only special people can write.
“Everybody feels that way,” she said. “Nobody is special, and if you love it and you work hard at it, that’s probably the thing you’re going to excel at.”
In fact, Cohen said she personally knew she was meant to write from the time she was eight years old.
“But I put that away for 30 years,” she said. “I mean I wrote, but I didn’t pursue it seriously.”
Derry Desmond, the program librarian at NWT Centennial Library, said visits by writers such as Cohen are especially beneficial for small-town, remote libraries.
“I think it helps to foster a deeper connection between the reader, the work and the whole process of writing and reading,” Desmond said.
For Cohen, it was her first visit to the NWT, and included stops in Fort Smith on March 25 and Yellowknife on March 27.
The visit was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.