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Originally published at Through the Tollbooth. Please leave any comments there.



If you’re a current or former VCFA student, you probably know that faculty member Tim Wynne-Jones is a staple of each residency, and although his laughter is not ringing out in the chapel this January, there is still a lot of buzz going around about him.

His latest novel, Blink and Caution, won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, Tim was also made an officer of the Order of Canada. He’s also been nominated for the 2012 Hands Christian Andersen Award. Tim is in the middle of a year-long trip to Europe, where he’s having all sorts of wonderful adventures that sadly have taken him from us for a semester. Since he can’t be here in person to tell us all about his latest successes (and other useful things), we’ve come up with the next best thing: an interview.

While we’ve tried to capture as much of Tim in a single blog post as we possibly could, his accolades just seem to keep coming and coming, so if you’re looking for the latest word on his writing and other neat things about him, we encourage you to visit his website: http://www.timwynne-jones.com/

Q: 2011 was a great year for you, with awards and nominations for Blink and Caution, and being inducted into the Order of Canada. Can you tell us a little bit about your process with the development of Blink and Caution, and what about it you think resonates with so many readers?

A: Phew! That’s a lot of questions all rolled into one innocent looking sentence. Okay, where to start. I’m never sure what it is about a story that someone else will like or that will resonate with them. I only know one reader very well and that’s me, so I try to write a story that I would like to read and that resonates with me. If I’m not deeply satisfied with what I’m writing I assume no one else will be interested in it, either.

As for my process in writing B & C, I’ll refer you to my acceptance speech for The Horn Book Award, which was published in the January Horn Book.

Q: For those of us non-Canadians who aren’t familiar with the Order of Canada, can you tell us a bit about it?

A: Well, it’s pretty exciting. Not quite like a knighthood — no swords are involved — but a special honor that comes complete with a nice insignia, presented at a ceremony at the Governor General’s Official residence. the GG is the Queens representative in Canada; if she happened to be in the country, she’d be the one giving the award out. There were 66 people given the O.C. this year and there are three grades: Companion, Officer and Member. There was only one Companion named (a former politician). I’m an officer but I don’t get to wear a uniform — just this little pin I’m supposed to wear on my lapel at any official type event. Guess I’ll have to get a lapel, now. Oh, which reminds me. At the investiture I’ll have to wear a tuxedo. I promise to send out pictures!

Q: What does an honor like this mean for your career and creativity?

A: Who knows what it means for my career? But as for my creativity, it could be deadly. Accolades are very nice, don’t get me wrong, and we all long for them. But they can really get in the way of the gritty process of writing. Nobody is “important” in the writing mine. Just your characters — just the story. You don’t go into a story with your ego on.

Q: You’ll be sitting out this semester. Is there anything you’re going to miss about rez?

A: I’ll miss you guys! All of you. You’re my social life. (I’m actually a hermit when I’m at home. A hermit AND a curmudgeon.) So when I come to rez it’s party time. Okay, Being in Venice is taking the sting out of not being there. I’ll admit it. And the day of the party? We fly to Barcelona. So… But seriously, when I looked at the schedule I was pleased to find myself feeling sad. What I mean is that as much as I need and want this semester off after eleven years, I’m already looking forward to coming back next July.

Q: How’s it going abroad? Can you give us some of your major highlights?

A: Let me refer you to my wife’s great blog

Q: Anything you’re working on now that you can tell us about?

A: Well, that’s the thing; I’m not writing at all. I should be worried but I’m having too much fun. And I guess I’m on a big intake thing. I wrote a blog for Write at Your Own Risk. If you didn’t see it, here’s the site

Go to the archives for October 26th. I have something to say there about what it’s like when the well runs dry, which is kind of important for a writer to know.

Q: Where does a story start in your head, with a character or a situation?

A: With one scene I can’t wait to write.

That’s it? It’s over? You’re finished with me just like that? Oh. Okay. Bye then.

Hey everybody, have a fabulous Rez. And eat a NECI cookie for me.

Rachel Lieberman is a third semester student in VCFA’s Writing for Children and Young Adults program.  She lives in Tampa.