Every other Thursday, author Joëlle Anthony can be found hanging out with teenagers at the library.
“There are benefits to hanging out with teens,” she said, laughing. “I learn a lot from them.”
Since mid-November, Anthony has been leading a teen writing circle at the Gabriola Island library. The relatively new bi-weekly activity, which will run again on Thursday (Dec. 18), provides teens and tweens the opportunity to practise writing, receive feedback and share ideas.
“It is a place where teens can come and write and share and also bring in things if they want,” Anthony explained.
Following Grade 7, tweens and teens on Gabriola Island do not receive any creative writing courses until they reach Grade 10.
Anthony said she is hoping that the new writing circle will keep kids interested in writing.
“There is a gap there and a lot of kids really like to write,” she said. “I think this could keep them interested.”
Anthony, who moved from Tennessee to Gabriola Island with her husband Victor in 2007, is the author of two young adult novels, Restoring Harmony and The Right and the Real. Restoring Harmony was long-listed for the American Library Association’s Best New Young Adult Fiction in 2010 and was selected for Cincinnati’s Teen on the Same Page Festival in 2012.
As the leader of the writing circle, Anthony is has been able to receive feedback from the students on her own writing.
“I primarily write for teens … just hanging out with teens and hearing what they think and getting to know them is useful,” she said.
Anthony was born and raised in Portland, Ore., where she attended David Douglas High School and became involved in acting, writing and the arts.
“The reason I started writing young adult was because that’s what I prefer to read,” she said. “Also, unlike many young adult writers or people, I really had a great time in high school. I loved high school with a passion.”
After high school, Anthony became involved in theatre, comedy and has appeared in a couple of movies, including What The Bleep Do We Know?
She explained that going from theatre to writing for young adults was a simple transition.
“They are very much linked,” Anthony said. “Everything you learn in theatre goes to writing, from building characters to plots and dialogues.”
Although the writing circle is fairly new, Anthony said she’s impressed at how open the students are to sharing their work.
“It makes me realize how brave they are,” she said.
The teen writing circle runs every other Thursday at the Gabriola library from 5-6 p.m. The circle, which is free, is open to anyone between the ages of 12 and 19.