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October 29, 2019

News broke at the crack of dawn this morning:  my book, STAND ON THE SKY, has won a Governor General's award -- the oldest and highest profile award in Canada.  This is a huge deal. I'm so excited -- I hardly know what to say. 

I think I'm going to need a ball gown.  

  

October 28, 2019

When I realized my story STAND ON THE SKY needed to be set in Mongolia, I scratched out a couple of sample chapters so I could beg for a grant. I got the grant – and I stopped writing. I really wanted to find the shape of the story after I’d been. (Turned out that I found it while I was there.)⁣
.⁣
Naturally many of the things in the sample chapters turned out to be a little off, because I’d only done book research. But I’d written the bit where Aisulu rides up to an outcrop of shale to seek the eagle nest and rescue the orphaned baby eagle. And when I finally got to Western Mongolia, there it was, just as I’d pictured it, the shale outcrop.

It was almost eerie. I wanted to put a blue scarf and a good stone at its base, to thank the universe. ⁣

I am grateful to these stones, this land. ⁣ ⁣

October 6, 2019

So the Canada Council sent me a set of GG Finalist Stickers, and I hooked up with my friend Ishta Mercurio took them down my local Indie, Worrds Worth books, and put them on stock copies.   See the delitght.  

October 3, 2019

So this morning the list of books nominated for the GG -- the Governor General's Award -- came out.  I saw it in my e-mail, and really just scanned it briefly.  I didn't see my name or my book cover, so I sighed and went to the basement to help clean up the sewage leak.  (UGGGH don't ask.)   

Then my Twitter notifications started rolling in.   

And I'm up for it.  STAND ON THE SKY has been nominated for a GG.  And I'm on the actual air.  I am standing on the sky. As writers we are not allowed to admit that we want these things, but I wanted this thing.  A lot.  For this book, which is truly the book of my heart. 

The Governor General's awards are Canada's big national awards -- like the National Book Awards in the States.  They're given in seven categories, including the one I'm up for, literature for young people.   They are worth $25K, a big shiney seal, and of course ALL THE GLORY.   Even being nominated is a huge, life-changing, caree...

August 5, 2019

One of the things I want readers to take from my  STAND ON THE SKY is the realization that the culture of Kazakh nomads is not a museum piece:  it's a living culture that exists in today's world. 

Many of the traditions are old -- the art of eagle hunting, for instance, is at least 4000 years old -- but that does not mean they're unchanged.  Traditional elements and modern innovations exist side by side, and the culture is in the middle of many changes.  

Here, Kazakh kids watch cartoons inside their ger.  


 

Alimbai, the eagle hunter, on his cellphone. 

Photo yanked from Pintrest, but we did encounter a young man transporting his eagle on a motorcycle.

(Motorcycles are widely used in Olgii.  I can't drive one but did learn the art of riding pinion while hanging onto the driver for dear life.)  

One of the changes sweeping Kazakh eagle hunting culture is that the newest generation of children training with eagles includes a few girls, which is a shift fro...

June 5, 2019

I have never known an animal so amazing as a Golden Eagle.  


 

My new book, STAND ON THE SKY, is about the relationship between a girl named Aisulu and the golden eagle Toktar.   Aisulu rescues Toktar as a baby -- he's orphaned -- and hand-raises him.  Later she learns to fly him, even though among her people being an eagle hunter is something that's usually done by boys.  


To find Aisulu's story, I went to Mongolia, where I lived with a family of Kazakh nomads who kept two eagles, a young eagle only recently taken from her nest, and a six-year-old eagle captured from the wild and still in training.   

My friend Seanan Forbes was there too, and she took these pictures.   Click to enbiggen.  

All Mongolian pics are by Seanan Forbes, writer, photographer, traveller, teaching artist. The grants that sent me to Mongolia came from the Canada Council and Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.

May 8, 2019

My new book, STAND ON THE SKY, takes place in a Kazakh nomad community in Western Mongolia.  The countryside, wedged between the Gobi desert and the high Altai mountains, is stark and beautiful -- and perhaps in reaction, the Kazakh built world is absolutely jammed with color.  


 

On the outside, Kazakh homes -- yurt-like tents called gers --  are plain canvas, but inside everything is colourful and patterned.   The walls are covered with hand-embroidered panel -- a Kazakh woman will make one every winter.  The tablecloth had flowers.  The bowls were bright red and bright green and gold.  The floor was turquoise linoleum.  More was more and it was beautiful.  

All Mongolian pics are by Seanan Forbes, writer, photographer, traveller, teaching artist. The grants that sent me to Mongolia came from the Canada Council and Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.

March 6, 2019

Today is the day.  My first true middle grade, STAND ON THE SKY, is out today, from HMH Kids Books in the US, and from Scholastic here in Canada.  It should be in bookstores coast to coast to coast!   

This is the book of my heart.  I have always wanted to write a book about brothers and sisters -- I was very close to my late sister, to whom this book is dedicated.  

I've always wanted to write a book about falconry -- the art of hunting in partnership with falcons, hawks, or eagles.   I've been obsessed with it ever since came across a hawk caught by its jesses in the woods behind my house, when I was only eight or so.  

Also, I really, really, really wanted to write a version of Where The Red Fern Grows (or Sounder, or Old Yeller) that had a happy ending.  

So here you go.  Where the Red Fern Grows, but in Mongolia, with a sister, a brother, an eagle, and a happy ending.  

January 22, 2019

Of all the gers on all the steppes in all the world, this one is dearest to my heart. In the summer of 2015, I lived here.

Here's the scoop: to find a shape for a story set in Mongolia, I went to Mongolia. Together with my friend Seanan Forbes and our guide Tansaya Khajikhan (daughter of eagle hunters and holder of a degree in gender studies), I lived with and worked alongside a family of Kazakh nomads in the Olgii aimag (province) in Westernmost Mongolia.

My Mongolian middle grade adventure, STAND ON THE SKY, out March 5 from HMH Kids in the US, and from Scholastic Canada in Canada.   Over few months I have many pictures to share, and you can see them on my Instagram, @erinbowbooks, with the hashtag #StandOnTheSkyPhotos.  

Here are some glimpses of the astounding beauty of the Mongolian landscape.  Click to enbiggen.  

All Mongolian pics are by Seanan Forbes, writer, photographer, traveller, teaching artist. The grants that sent me to Mongolia came from the Canada...

January 18, 2019

I'm  happy with this feature in The Hornbook. I so hope it will help my wee book soar!

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