BD Spotlight: YA Author Monique Polak

April 21, 2014

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To know Monnique Polak is to love her. Ask any of her students. Or readers. Or friends. Here, the lively and talented teacher and YA author of the popular book, What World is Left, amongst others, answers the first-ever Book Dumpling Spotlight questionnaire:

What is the last, great book that you read and to which type of readers would you recommend it?

Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music. I loved it! I recommend it to readers who are in the mood for a rollicking story that is beautifully written and has unforgettable characters.  

What would you like Book Dumpling readers to know about you?

That both reading and writing have saved my life — and continue to save my life! Even when things around me are going wrong, I feel safe when I am reading a good book, and when I am doing my own writing.  

Which one book would you recommend that everyone read at least once?

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I was telling my class yesterday that I think I’ve read that book 300 times. I did my thesis on Alice and my daughter is named after her.

Tell us a little bit about the book that has a soft spot in your heart.

It would be my fall 2013 title: So Much It Hurts. That book is about a girl who finds herself in a physically abusive relationship. It’s based on a dark chapter from my own teenage years. The reason the book has a soft spot is that I’ve been getting mail from young people who find themselves in similar situations and I’m hoping my book will bring them some comfort and hope. It was a tough book to write, but I feel glad I did it!

What types of books would you suggest your teens read?

I say read everything! Read good stuff and bad stuff. Read cereal boxes! And, of course, read Canadian YA fiction — there’s so much great stuff out there. 

How do you pick your next book?

My books pick me! A lot of my reading is assigned — I regularly review books for The Gazette and for Radio Canada. I also keep a list of books I want to read on my desktop.

Do you have a favourite bookstore?

Babar en Ville [in Montreal] — it’s an amazing kids’ book store on Greene Avenue in Westmount. It’s my home away from home! 

E-reader or the real thing?

The real thing. Also, I can’t read without a pen or pencil. I write all over my books. 

You lead some great writing workshops – what advice would give to an aspiring author (regardless of age)?

My main advice for aspiring authors of all ages is to write write write and read read read. So many people talk about wanting to write, but they don’t just sit down and do it. Also, I want aspiring writers to know that first drafts are supposed to be lousy. If they keep polishing and polishing, their stories will be worth reading. 





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