Gayle Friesen - Author

Gayle Friesen

Born and raised in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Gayle Friesen studied English Literature at the University of British Columbia. She'd been married for five years when she gave birth to her son, Bradey, shortly before graduating. Two years later, her daughter, Alex, was born. All the while, Friesen considered what to do with her degree. “I think I always wanted to be a writer, but at some point I decided that it was too lofty a goal, so I put the idea in the back of my mind.” An assignment in a post-graduate creative writing course gave her the confidence to pursue her desire to write young adult fiction. Friesen is now a successful full-time writer. Her first novel, Janey's Girl, was critically acclaimed, winning the Red Maple Reading Award and the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award, as well as being nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award. Her next three novels, Men of Stone, Losing Forever and The Isabel Factor were equally lauded. Friesen's latest book is For Now, a sequel to Losing Forever.

Chilliwack, British Columbia.

September l8th.

Where do you live now?
Delta, British Columbia.

When did you start writing?
After my son was born. I guess the whole creation thing got to me.

Do you have a favorite book?
Anne of Green Gables .

Do you have any pets?
A cat named Tiger Lily and a dog named Lucy Maud.

What is your favorite food?
Chocolate and chocolate covered chocolate.

What are your hobbies?
Eating chocolate, watching movies and playing tennis. Not at the same time.

What was your training or schooling?
I have a degree in English Literature from The University if British Columbia and I've taken numerous writing courses.

How did you get involved with children's books?
After my son and daughter were born, I was introduced to a whole new genre of books: the picture book. Like so many other people, I thought, “I can do that!” Yes, well, I couldn't. But on my way to writing my picture book, I discovered a novelist lurking inside me, and I've pretty much remained with that form ever since.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Read. Keep a journal. Stay open to new ideas, new ways of looking at things.

What is your favorite movie?
The Princess Bride .

What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
I love the way my ordinary day becomes extraordinary when I'm writing. Everything seems more interesting, somehow, when I'm looking at life through my writing eyes.

Where do you work?
When I'm writing the first draft of a book or substantial new scenes for a rewrite, I write in longhand, and usually outside the house in a coffee shop. With most of the rewrites, I work at home.

How do you research or create your stories?
I usually research the aspects of my books that require research after my first draft. The creation of my stories usually comes once I've come up with the main character. I'm not really sure where those main characters come from but, when I can hear their voices, I know they probably have a story to tell.

Where do you get your ideas?
I think most of my ideas come from paying close attention to what is really interesting me ... really grabbing my attention. Being open to new realizations and thoughts helps the creative process along. Stealing ideas from my 12-year-old daughter also works!

What's your greatest childhood memory?
Camping at Shuswap Lake, swimming with my cousin Susie.

What is your favorite animal?
I am partial to horses, but loyalty to my pets makes me think I should answer dogs and cats.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer or an actress.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I think writing is the most interesting job I've ever had, but when I was 18 I worked at an amusement park and would occasionally dress up as Fred Flintstone. That was the weirdest job.

Janey's Girl

2001 - Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award, Short-listed
2001 - Red Cedar Book Award, Winner
2000 - Young Readers Choice Award, Pacific Northwest Library Association, Winner
1999 - Books for the Teen Age List, The New York Public Library, Winner
1998 - Violet Downey Book Award, National Chapter of Canada IODE, Winner
1998 - Mr. Christie's Book Award, Short-listed
1998 - CLA Young Adult Book Award, Canadian Library Association, Winner
1998 - Junior Library Guild Selection, Winner
1998 - Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award, Short-listed
1998 - Red Maple Award, Ontario Library Association, Winner
1998 - Governor General's Literary Award, children's text, Canada Council for the Arts, Short-listed