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Advice For Young Writers, Doctor Who and STOLEN WORDS: Three Questions For Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who DreamsThe MissingOne Night, and Rez Runaway.

You can find out more about Melanie at and on Twitter at @mflowrites.

STOLEN WORDS was written by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard and published by Second Story Press in Oct/2017. It was named by Kirkus one of the Best Picture Books Of 2017 To Give Readers Strength (see the starred Kirkus review here).

Synopsis of STOLEN WORDS:

A little girl helps her grandfather regain the language taken from him as a child. The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

This is actually TWO items that are hanging above my desk.

I’m a bit of a nerd (ok, a huge nerd) and I love Doctor Who. I even have a closet in the studio that looks like the TARDIS!

I made the bottom shadow box to reflect “my doctor”, the tenth doctor, David Tennant. But my daughter likes the eleventh. So the top shadow box is for her. There are a bunch of Doctor Who items in my studio but these are my favourite.

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

Oh man. That’s a tricky question because I never feel like a “real” writer. Even after ten books, I still feel like I have so much to learn. Actually, maybe that’s the advice. Keep learning. Write. Read. Take classes. Find a critique group. No matter how good of a writer you are, there will always be more to learn.

Q. What are you excited about right now?

Hmmm…I’m excited about seeing the new Doctor being introduced on Christmas Day! The first woman Doctor on Doctor Who. I’ll be watching with my daughter for sure. And I’m also excited to see the new Star Wars movie when it comes out. (I told you I was a nerd.)

For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.