Kitchener author wins Governor General book award

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Local Kitchener author, Erin Bow, is headed to Canada’s capital as the recipient of a prestigious award, the Governor General’s Literary Award.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of the oldest standing awards in Canada and some of the most prestigious and celebrated in the literary realm.

Each year, there are 14 recipients in a variety of different categories, seven for English literary works and seven for French literary works.

Each winner receives an award of twenty-five thousand dollars.

“I’m so excited about it, I’m just over the moon about it,” Bow said. “They did tell me a little bit before they told the public and I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody, not even my family, but that was a complete non-starter because when they called everybody woke up and came to see what I was doing.”

Bow is one of two winners in the young people’s literature category for her book Stand on the Sky.

Bow will attend the award ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Dec. 11 and 12 where she will give a reading and receive her award.

Stand on the Sky is Bow’s fifth novel and is one that she is very personally invested in.

“I also wanted a book about a brother and a sister. This book is dedicated to my late sister,” said Bow. “I wanted so badly to save my sister, I wanted a book where a kid succeeds in doing that.”

“This is my fifth novel but in a sense, it’s the book of my heart. It’s a book I’ve been working my way up to writing for a long time.”

Stand on the Sky tells the story of a young girl, Aisulu, who’s brother falls ill, causing her parents to leave with him in search of a cure. During this time, Aisulu lives with her extended family while secretly taking in an orphaned baby eagle and learning how to earn its trust in order to help herself and her family.

This book is dedicated to my late sister. I wanted so badly to save my sister, I wanted a book where a kid succeeds in doing that.

– Erin Bow

“There are these books that have a kid and an animal on the cover and the kid gets involved in this deep relationship with this animal and it transforms their lives and their families as they grow up and then the animal dies at the end of the story,” Bow said.

“So, I wanted a book with a kid and an animal on the cover that would have a happy ending.”

While the characters in Stand on the Sky face trials and tribulations, they emerge triumphantly and this is the message that Bow hopes to communicate to her readers.

“This book is labelled for readers eight and up, so a feeling of power and possibility and like you can genuinely do something impossible, like Stand on the Sky,” said Bow. “So many of those books are sad, I wanted a book that was happy and triumphant.”

While Bow is now a well-known and celebrated writer with a multitude of published works, a career in writing was not something she considered until later in life. Previously, she spent time as a physicist.

“I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer, but I was always the kid with her nose in a book,” Bow said.

“I didn’t really know any writers and I didn’t really recognize that books were something that human beings wrote and that one could make a living that way.”

“I didn’t publish my first book, which was a book of poetry until I was just shy of 30.”

Bow’s writing is predominantly geared towards a young adult audience, something that is fueled by her own love of the genre and the element of storytelling it possesses

“I find that in YA you never read a book that doesn’t have a story to tell,” said Bow. “So I love that because I love stories more than anything else about writing. When I started to write, it almost wasn’t a decision, it just tumbled out into the form that I had been reading.”

For those who are craving more of her work, Bow currently has several mystery projects in the works which have yet to be released but will be revealed in the future.

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