Get Inspired: Natale Ghent

Picture of Natale Ghent

Natale Ghent is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books for young adults, including No Small Thing, The Book of Living and Dying, The Odds Get Even and the forthcoming Against All Odds.

Nominated for four Canadian children’s choice awards, including the CLA Book of the Year for Children award and the Silver Birch award (Honour Book), No Small Thing was also chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection in the US and a Borders Original Voice.

Born in Brookfield, Illinois, Natale Ghent moved to Canada as a small child. She lives with her family in Toronto. Visit her website at www.nataleghent.com.

1. How did you become a writer? Why do you write books for young adults?

I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since I was five. It wasn’t until much later that I thought to make it my career.

I write for young adults because I love stories that involve kids and teenagers. It’s such an intense, formative time in life and a lot of strange and magical things can happen.

2. Did your education prepare you to become an author? Were there experiences you felt were helpful in preparing you for a writing career?

My education definitely prepared me for being an author. Writing endless English Lit papers honed my literary skills. I also worked as a journalist which really sharpened my ability to juggle several projects at once.

Cover of The Odds Get Even

3. Where do you get your ideas? Where do you draw inspiration from?

My ideas come from everywhere – my own life, stories in the newspaper, snippets of other people’s conversations, even dreams. Talking to my husband is a great source of inspiration as well. He has a very wild mind!

4. What’s your favourite young adult book?

My favourite young adult book – this is so hard because there are so many amazing books out there – but I really love Alice in Wonderland.

5. Today North American young people are constantly bombarded with faster entertainment options such as the internet or TV. Where does reading fit in? Does this idea of "fitting reading in" affect your work as a writer/author?

Reading is such an intimate act. But it also connects people together through shared interests and inspiration. It opens your mind in a way that nothing else can.

Very few people have the opportunity to read for hours a day. But we find ways around it – half an hour before bed, on the way to work or school, in leisure moments during summer months.

I don’t try to compete with technology; I think there will always be readers out there, whether they chose to pick up a traditionally published book, or download a story on an e-reader.

6. Do you feel there’s something special about Canadian literature for young adults?

Canadian literature for young adults is special on the world market. The entire industry in Canada reflects the unique sensibilities of being Canadian, the over-reaching philosophies and experiences that bind us all in this cultural mosaic.

In many ways, our work is about some great truth revealed, some intimate connection with each other. There is room for everyone - the quirky, the serious, the silly, the dark, the literary, the small – and not just those books that are preordained best sellers. And isn’t that what Canada is all about? Room for everyone.

7. Why is it important for youth to get involved in their communities?

I think community building is one of the most necessary and rewarding acts. And teens are so important to the mix! We need their input, their hopes and dreams to create a better world, and this can only be done through community.

8. If you could tell your teen self one thing, what would it be?

If I could tell my teen self one thing it would be to not give up, to hold on to hope, no matter how small. Never give in to despair. There is someone out there who understands you, who knows how you feel. There is someone who’s been through what you’ve been through and made it, and you can make it, too.

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