Global News Interview - Judith Silverthorne on 'GHOSTS IN THE GARDEN'

Reviewed by: Emily Pasiuk

Judith Silverthorne is one busy woman.

At her book launch on Tuesday, the Regina-born author was as much a part of making sure everything went smoothly as she was the centre of attention. She signed books, greeted friends, read a chapter from her new book and spoke with the children from Davin Elementary School that attended.

After a flurry of activity, Silverthorne sat down to talk about her long career in the industry.

First thing’s first: what exactly is a children’s novel?

“There are a variety of age groups for a children’s novel, but really it’s what some kids would call chapter books,” she said. “I write mostly juvenile fiction, so those are sort of more for probably Grade 3 to 6.”

Silverthorne’s novels are exciting and mysterious, but also largely historical. She says she uses the adventure aspect to teach children about history, a topic not all kids would immediately jump on as an obvious interest.

“I think I would have loved, or still would love, to be able to time travel and I’m just interested so much in what went on in the past,” Silverthorne said.

“To me, that’s a way of also engaging children and letting them learn about the past but kind of in a fun way, in an adventuresome way.”

Now with the rise of digital media, Silverthorne says it is more difficult to get kids interested in reading initially.

“Once you can engage them with (those) first few books and they see how much fun it is to read, I think it changes their mind.”

Silverthorne has written eleven children’s novels over the years, some of which have won awards. Others have been translated into other languages for wider distribution. The initial idea for a book is not necessarily sparked by anything, she says. Most of the time, characters or scenarios will just pop into her head.

“The characters themselves seem to lead me through the story. I often don’t know where the story is going and I never outline or anything like that.”

Kids, she says, are what continue to motivate her.

“I really enjoy being able to use my imagination or imagine what it was like or remember what it was like when younger and some of the books that I would have liked to have read back then. (…) I like to inspire kids as well, and they inspire me.”

“They have such wonderful imaginations and you can talk to them or read to them a little bit and they just come up with some other ideas or they ask you ‘What about this?’ or ‘What about that?’” Silverthorne said.

“They make you start thinking in a different way than you might normally have.”

As for the industry itself here in Saskatchewan, Silverthorne said that it was strong but also that new authors may have some trouble breaking in. She had some simple advice: “Keep persevering.”

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