Interview with Hazel Hutchins - Presenter SCBWI Collaboration Conference Calgary Oct. 1

Hazel Hutchins is an award winning Canadian children's author living in Canmore, Alberta. She's written picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and has more than forty books published internationally. And I have to tell you, she's one of the most humble people I've ever met. 

Hazel will be presenting at the SCBWI Western Canada Calgary Conference Collaboration where she will share with us what she's learned over the years as a children's author. 

Here's the interview I did with Hazel:  

Q.  Writing is largely self-taught. What tools did you use to learn your craft and develop your talent?

A.  Reading .... lots and lots .... from Superman comics to Faulkner.  When I had young children I brought home twenty picture books at a time from the library, went through them in a few days, and headed back for more.

I took the Alberta Writers Guild course by mail.  John Patrick Gillese really knew his stuff.  (I almost wrote "online course" but it was before computers. Come to think of it, my first book was done on a manual typewriter.  Good grief.  I AM old.)

Local community class in fiction writing. I don't think I actually learned anything of writing value at the course but it's where I met my wonderful friend and occasional co-author Gail Herbert.
Membership in organizations that had newsletters with writing tips and current market information. (LOVE YOU Writers Guild of Alberta!)

And, wherever I am, if I see a magazine with anything about writing, I stop everything and read like crazy.  It may have THE secret!

Q. Writing is a solitary pursuit and involves a lot of time in the Sasquatch cave (or what I like to call butt in chair time). How do you stay connected with the writing community and how does that help you develop as a writer?

A. I love the writing friends I've made.  However in some ways I think my partial isolation (living in a smaller centre and having a nature that is capable of being social for only limited amounts of time before I NEED to be alone) has helped to keep me focused on the work of writing.

Q. How has attending conferences contributed to your development as a writer and your professional career? Why is it important for the aspiring writer to attend conferences?

A. I get jealous when I realize what others have done and get more determined to do good work myself! Conferences are excellent....but always, always, always, my best advice to aspiring writers is to write.  Actually begin.  Actually finish.  Actually rewrite.  Actually submit.

Q. Was there a turning point in your career when you went from trying to be a writer to 'wow, I'm really doing this and making it happen'?

A. I'm always still trying to be a writer.  I'm always looking for a great idea and a way to write it better, smarter, more uniquely.  The "wow" for me is never about "career", it's all about the work itself -- the quest for that magical moment when a new insight steps forward and a story moves to a higher level. Yes!!!!

Great advice Hazel, it's back to the sasquatch writing cave for me! On with the quest!

Registration for the conference closes August 25th. Contact Pamela for more information. 


Angela Ackerman said…
Great interview! Thanks Jan and Hazel! :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Anonymous said…
Thank you for this! I am a huge fan so it is great to be given this insight. And old? Never I say!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Angela and Deb - you're right writers are never too old to learn!
Nicky Schmidt said…
Great interview and excellent advice!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Nicky - there will be another interview coming soon!