This is the year for first time author winning big prizes. First, Sean Michael wins the Giller Prize – Canada’s biggest fiction prize – for his first novel. Now Raziel Reid has won Canada’s biggest prize for children’s literature with his first novel: When Everything Feels like the Movies, a young adult novel about a gay teen published by Arsenal Pulp Press.
Here’s the scoop from the Vancouver Sun….
TORONTO - Vancouver writer Raziel Reid was sleeping when he recently got a phone call telling him his debut young adult novel, "When Everything Feels like the Movies," would be among 14 Governor General's Literary Award winners announced Tuesday.
It took nearly four years to find a publisher for the story, and Reid says he couldn't help but jump out of bed to do a "little naked dance around the apartment" when he heard it won the $25,000 prize in the children's literature-text category.
"To not only get it published is amazing, but to have it be awarded is really special," the 24-year-old said in a telephone interview.
"I feel like I just popped three Molly and I'm going to dance for the rest of my life," he added jokingly, referencing a street drug also known as Ecstasy.
"When Everything Feels like the Movies" (Arsenal Pulp Press) is drawn from the true story of Lawrence (Larry) Fobes King, an openly gay 15-year-old who was shot to death by an eighth grade classmate inside a school in Oxnard, Calif., in 2008. The incident happened after he'd asked the teen who was convicted in his murder to be his Valentine.
The protagonist in the fictional book is flamboyant Jude Rothesay, who likes to raid his mother's closet and wants Luke Morris to be his date to the Valentine's Day dance.
"It's really about modern-day youth and first love," said Reid. "I wanted to create a narrator who was flamboyant and unapologetic and not ashamed of his sexuality, because I don't think that there's ever been that kind of a ferocious voice in young-adult CanLit."
Reid said he reads a lot of fiction featuring gay characters "and sometimes it doesn't feel like it's an authentic gay voice, especially with YA."
"It can sort of be sugar-coated or conformed to what adults find acceptable about gay teens," he added. "It's a safety thing. Everyone is pro-gay these days but they don't want to hear about gay sex and they certainly don't want to hear about a 15-year-old having gay sex or desiring gay sex.
"I was a gay 15-year-old and I know what I was thinking about and what I was interested in, and teens don't really sensor themselves the way that adults do, so I just wanted to let it all out and show people that gay teens are complicated — as complicated as anyone else."
Reid is one of three 2014 Governor General's Literary Award winners who are the youngest ever to receive prizes in their categories. The others are 26-year-old Jordan Tannahill in the English-language drama section for "Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays" (Playwrights Canada Press) and 24-year-old Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois in the French-language non-fiction category for "Tenir tete" (Lux Editeur). (Nadeau-Dubois ties a non-fiction English winner in 1993, Karen Connelly, who was also 24 when she won for "Touch the Dragon.")
Meanwhile Thomas King of Guelph picked up the Governor General’s Award for English language fiction for The Back of the Turtle (from HarperCollins). King (who's represented by Westwood Creative Artists) has been having a great year. He also picked up both the Charles Taylor Prize and British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian nonfiction for . Read more in the Globe & Mail here.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.