I wrote my first novel, Napachee, because I wanted people to learn more about the amazing part of the world I was born and raised in. One aspect of writing young adult fiction that I didn’t anticipate was the adventure of participating in school visits and presentations. This spin-off of writing has proven to be the most rewarding component of what I do!
When I visit schools I take an extensive collection of artifacts including items such as walrus tusks, seal harpoons, beadwork and carvings. Some of the items are true museum pieces that have been treasured by my family for many years. There are stories associated with each artifact such as close encounters with polar bear and muskoxen, getting lost in -60 below weather, and growing up with a “honey bucket” instead of a toilet. Each group of students is different and I never get tired of telling my stories and enjoying the reaction of my audience.
I have been fortunate enough to present at schools across Canada and locations inthe United States. Some of my most rewarding presentations have been surprisingly close to home.
The first time I was asked to present at a school comprised predominantly of First Nations students I was somewhat intimidated. I kept saying to myself, “what can I tell these young people that they won’t already know?” I grew up in the Northwest Territories and assumed that the experience of First Nations students in Alberta would be much like my own. I was wrong!
The majority of Fist Nations students I spoke to knew very little of their own culture and history. They were more amazed and entertained than the non-First Nations students I spoke to. It was very emotional for me to see these young people hanging on my every word and proudly listening to stories about their own people. I frequently receive phone calls from teachers after I make these visits thanking me for instilling a new sense of pride in their students and a thirst to learn more of their heritage.
I recently presented in Chicago and will be travelling to Oregon later this month. Chicago was fantastic with over 300 students sitting in on my presentation! They had great questions and the reaction to my new novel, Arctic Thunder, was over the top! I am anticipating more fun when I visit Oregon!
Robert Feagan is the author of two previous novels for young people: Napachee and Mystery at Shildii Rock, which was nominated for a Golden Eagle Book Award. He was born in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, Canada, and often accompanied his RCMP father on patrols of the Mackenzie Delta by dog team. Feagan has lived in Yellowknife, Cambridge Bay, and Inuvik, but currently resides in St. Albert, Alberta.
You can connect with Rob in the following ways:
Win a copy of Arctic Thunder!
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The contest ends January 29.