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Write On Ottawa: Five talented young writers with bright literary futures

By Alejandro Bustos on December 17, 2013

During the past year, the Write On Ottawa series has profiled some excellent writers from the National Capital Region.

As we near the end of 2013, and reflect on the great wordsmiths in Ottawa-Gatineau, we decided to profile five young authors whose pen has already won them awards.

This past fall the Ottawa Public Library released Pot-Pourri 2013, a collection of winning short stories and poems from their Awesome Authors contest.  (The deadline to apply for the next contest is February 9, 2014).

Open to those between the ages of 9 to 17, the Pot-Pourri collection shines a spotlight on the up-and-coming literary talent in our city.  Interested to find out more about these young creative minds, Apartment613 contacted five authors via email who were published in this year’s compilation.

Isabella Crysler (1st prize poetry, 9-11 years old)

Isabella Crysler is a Grade 7 student at Broadview Public School.  Her winning poem Circus Girl, which she wrote when she was 11, is about a girl who hides her true feelings from the world.

Isabella Crysler

Isabella Crysler

“The idea for the poem Circus Girl came to me after doing a poetry writing art elective at school,” the 12-year-old explains.  “I wanted to write about how you can look perfectly fine on the outside, while you fall apart on the inside.  How there are people out there that will live their lives never letting anyone know the chaos going on inside their heads.”

Dreaming of being a professional author, who publishes not only poetry but also full-length books, Isabella is working on other projects.

“I recently entered in another writing contest through school,” says Isabella.  “The poem is titled one man army and is about bullying.  It’s an important poem to me because usually I write through female perspectives but in one man army I didn’t pick a specific gender.”

Mikaela Fournier-Moar (1st prize poetry, 12-14 years old)

I enjoy poems that use a creative design.  That is why 13-year-old Mikaela Fournier-Moar’s piece Fear, which is written in the shape of the word fear, caught my eye.

“I always loved the idea of concrete poetry,” says Mikaela about Fear, which she wrote in Grade 7. (She is currently in Grade 8).  “The idea of highlighting the main idea of the poem with a picture fascinated me.”

After reading a poem a few years ago that was part of the Awesome Authors contest that used a similar idea, Mikaela was inspired to write a piece with an interesting layout.  “I then thought about making my poetry into the shape of a word, so that that word would really punch into the reader’s mind.  And why not use an emotion as strong as fear?” she says.

Writing since before she can remember – she still has stories that she wrote when she was four  it’s no surprise that she dreams of being a professional writer, especially of teen fiction and poetry.  As for her current projects, she recently entered a national essay-writing contest.

 Colin Mylrea (honourable mention short story, 15-17 years old)

Colin Mylrea

Colin Mylrea

Colin Mylrea is the only writer that Apartment613 interviewed that received an honourable mention.  His story Anomaly was so interesting, however, we could not miss an opportunity to speak with him.

A mere three pages long, this dark tale describes a murder with a surprising plot twist, something that is hard to do given its short length.

“Most of the inspiration for the story came from a Christopher Nolan movie called Memento which used a non-linear structure like my story (albeit a bit more complicated),” says Colin, who is in Grade 11 at A.Y. Jackson.

“The idea for the plot itself came from an idea I had where what if a character was found in a horror movie type situation (finding a dead body) and being twisted enough to be comfortable in the environment around them.”

When asked about his literary ambitions, the young author says he would love to work for a publication like McSweeney’s or The New Yorker after finishing university.  For the time being, however, he has a few projects on the go, such as working on a novel – “It’s a bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Game of Thrones,” he reveals.

Lia Codrington (1st prize short story, 15-17 years old)

Lia Codrington

Lia Codrington

If the Awesome Authors contest were the Olympics, then 16-year-old Lia Codrington would be a multiple medalist.

Depending on your viewpoint, her short stories Doucemenet and Child’s Play either shared first prize, or won gold and silver.

Doucement was inspired by her sixteenth birthday celebration when she went dog sledding with her family in Quebec.

“The guide who took us said doucement whenever he wanted the dogs to slow down, and this struck me as a command that could be applied to many different things,” recalls Lia,  a Grade 11 student at Canterbury High School.  “I wanted to play with that and let the word apply to the main character’s desire to slow down her life.”

Child’s Play, meanwhile, is a slightly surreal tale about a father and daughter travelling from China to America on a boat.

“My inspiration for Child’s Play came from a school assignment where we made collages out of magazine photos and exchanged them with a partner.  Then we had to write a story based on the images we received,” says Lia.

“The main focus of the collage I got was a little boy of Asian descent.  I started doing research into Chinese immigration, and I stumbled upon the California gold rush and the wave of immigrants that traveled to America because of it.”

Having never been to China, she imagined how a small child would react to a long boat ride.

“I think it was this aspect of imagination that brought out the feeling of fantasy in Child’s Play,” she says.  “Children always see things in new, magical ways, and I tried to incorporate that into Bojing’s voice.”

Sophia Carney (1st prize short story, 12-14 years old)

Sophia Carney

Sophia Carney

If you are a fan of science fiction then Sophia Carney’s writing will interest you.  Her short story X-13 is set in a future world where mechanic mutations have been implanted into humanity, ending our species as we currently know it.

Amazingly, she wrote the story when she was only in Grade 6.  (She is currently in Grade 8).

“I started writing when I was about seven or eight years old to pass the time on long car journeys,” says 13-year-old Sophia, who attended Fisher Park Public School in Ottawa until very recently before moving to England.

“My first story was about two child secret agents saving the world from an army of zombie snowmen (I had a very vivid imagination!)”

Dreaming of being a professional writer, the young author is currently working on a collection of short stories, as well as an action-adventure novel called Criminal Minds.  She is also writing a spy novel with a friend called Double Agent.

“I have yet to actually finish writing a full-length chapter book, but I definitely want to try and finish Double Agent by the end of 2014,” Sophia tells Apartment613.