I just returned from the Young Authors’ Conference in Kamloops, BC, where I led a day of “monster creation.”
This is a great conference in which kids who are passionate writers get the day off from school and come to the local university campus to learn from published authors and illustrators about the craft of storytelling. The conference has been going on for some thirty-five years, and so has featured many talented authors over the years. This year, my fellow mentors included James McCann, Kallie George, kc dyer, Jacqueline Pearce, Crystal Stranaghan, and Carrie Mac.
I had about sixty kids come through my workshop. We had a lot of fun talking about one of my favorite subjects: Monsters.
We started off with a Monster Quiz to help break the ice and get the kids out of their shells (also, it’s just plain fun to spring a test on someone). Afterwards, we talked about different monsters in mythology and popular culture, and how I use them in my own Kendra Kandlestar series.
The final part was the most fun. This is where the kids assembled a “monster in a bottle” by using a variety of ingredients. I had an array of these ingredients but students were only allowed to pick from three different sources. (I find this actually makes them more creatively, as they have to put some choice and consideration into the matter). Some of the ingredients includes fangs, fur, feathers, and eyeballs.
Once the students had stuffed their bottles full of all the gruesome parts, they then created labels and tags and then drafted a series of instructions that explained how to “hatch” and care for that creature.
Many students chose to sketch what their final hatched creature would look like.
This activity set them up to write a short story in which a character buys the bottle from the local magic monster shop and then fails to follow the instructions carefully. Well. We can all guess what would happen after that . . .
Here are some photos of many of the creations. I couldn’t possibly take photos of all the bottles, but I tried to get as many as possible.
Many thanks to Deanna Brady, the organizer of the conference, and her entire team. Even though I’ve participated in this conference for several years, this felt like one of the best ones so far!