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  • Writer's pictureCharis Cotter

Screech! Wins Hackmatack Award and I Make Guest "Appearance" on Uncanny Podcast

It's been a busy spring, with a cross-country virtual tour for Canadian Children's Book Week, Hackmatack presentations and award ceremony, and an impromptu interview talking about Newfoundland ghosts with the boys who produce the Uncanny podcast for the BBC.

Book Week

Book Week was delightful: I visited schools in British Columbia, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Thanks to excellent planning by the CCBC organizers, especially Amanda Halfpenny, it all went off with barely a hitch and I told my ghost stories to lots and lots of enthusiastic students. My favourite part was when they came up to the camera after the presentation and asked me questions. Virtual is not as thrilling as being there in person, but connections were made and we all had fun.

Hackmatack Award

I was booked for a few Hackmatack presentations: first at Carbonear Public Library, my 'local," where Tracey Vaughan-Evans always makes me super welcome, and we had a full house! That was in person, and then I told some ghost stories online to some schools in PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Finally I had a chat with the Hackmatack club in Pasadena, Newfoundland, the ONLY school that participated from our province. Hackmatack hasn't caught on here, but that small group at Pasadena were keen and had a great time. They got to announce that Screech! was the winner at a virtual ceremony on June 3, and they did some impressive screeching! Congratulations to Genevieve Simms, who did the creepy illustrations for the book, and congratulations to the other winners and finalists.

I have to say, I LOVE Hackmatack. I've been privileged to have many of my books on the short list and this is my second win. It means so much to have kids vote my book their favourite. Kids are my audience and when I know they are enjoying my books I am very happy indeed. To read about the other winners and find out more about Hackmatack, check it out here.

Uncanny Podcast

In the midst of all this I got a surprise email from Danny Robins, the host of the BBC 4 podcast, Uncanny. He had a truly terrifying ghost story from Twillingate, Newfoundland, and he wanted to talk to someone who knew something about Newfoundland ghosts. He and his colleague Simon Barnard set it up and we did an interview completely off the cuff. It aired last night and you can find it here.

It's Part Two of the Twillingate story. You can listen to Part One here.

It's an excellent podcast and Danny has one of the scariest voices I've ever heard. Yikes! And although I sound kind of bouncy for a ghost expert, I think I did manage to convey just why Newfoundland is such a haunted, spooky place.

All In the Family

I also spent some time this spring in Ontario with my dad, Graham Cotter, who launched his second children's novel at the ripe old age

of 97. My daughter, Zoe Cleland, edited his book and I published it, so it was a family affair. It's called The Topher and it's a time-travelling mystery set in the 1970s. It's the sequel to Drumlin Fever, which we published in 2020.

Home Sweet Home

Now I'm back in Newfoundland after all my adventures. The dandelions are out, the rainbow flag and the Union Jack are flying in a stiff breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, and the ghosts are whispering to me once again. I'm looking forward to some quiet time writing as the whales make their way north and the all-too-short summer finally begins.

Hot off the Press: 30% off The Dollhouse

The Dollhouse paperback is coming out in September and has made the list of the Most Anticipated Canadian Books offer at Indigo, running this week only! Until June 19, you can get 30% off when you pre-order my book. I'm honoured to be on the list with John Irving, Louise Penny, Matthew Perry and Emma Donoghue! Read all about it here.

That's it for now! Have a happy Summer Solstice wherever you may be. I'll have more book news in a few weeks.

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