Saturday, June 30, 2007

Teens with literary talent: Sign up for book camp

Vancouver Sun
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fifteen-year-old Omar Chu can't get enough of the Canadian Book Camp program offered each summer at the Vancouver Public Library. He's attended three years in a row and will return for a fourth time July 9.

The week-long camp puts budding preteen and teenage writers in contact with other kids who enjoy books and hope to write them. Successful writers, reporters and broadcasters -- who this year will include Carrie Mac, Dennis Foon, the Vancouver Sun's Amy O'Brian and CBC Radio's Theresa Lalonde -- provide tips and inspiration.

Omar lives in Burnaby. So as not to have to commute, he comes to Vancouver for the week and stays with his aunt.

He's a fan of comedy, satire and parody. This week, while on a road trip with his uncles, he took along The Penguin Anthology of Canadian Humour, edited by Will Ferguson.

At one of the earlier camps, he wrote a standup comedy routine. "I'm not quite sure if I'm funny," he says, "but I try."

Parents often despair that their sons aren't interested in books, but Omar credits his mom, Ramona, with showing him their appeal. "When I was little, she read to me and got me interested."

Mary Schendlinger, a senior editor at Geist magazine, a former managing editor at Harbour Publishing and the author of Prepare to Be Amazed: The Geniuses of Modern Magic, will be one of the mentors at this year's camp. "My focus will be editing and publishing, because I do that for a living," she says.

"There's no replacement for a good editor but, that said, there are ways you can approach your own work and ... figure out where you need to revise. I'll be doing a sort of be-your-own-editor workshop."

The Canadian Book Camp, July 9 to 12 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and July 13 (9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.), is for kids aged 11 to 17. Cost: $185. To register, call Shannon at 604-331-4041.
© The Vancouver Sun 2007