QWF Writes: “Hi, I’m ______ ”: Choosing My Author Name

K.B. Thors

“What do we call you?” is a question I’ve gotten used to hearing, especially in the writing world. I write now as K.B. Thors, but up until the end of 2017 I was publishing poetry, translations, and essays under the name K.T. Billey. My legal name is Kara Billey Thordarson. If I meet you, I’ll introduce myself as Kara.

That might seem all over the place, but the evolution of my nom de plume mirrors the development not just of my writing but of my self. I’d encourage any writer to experiment with their own creative license, no matter what a brand expert might say.

INSIGHT: Saying Yes

first-meeting-for-mentorship

I am bad at saying no. As part of a better-late-in-life-than-never self-improvement exercise, I try to turn down extra work—especially the non-paying variety.

So last summer, when Michelle Sylvestre of the Make A Wish Foundation phoned to tell me about a volunteer opportunity—Raphaëlla Vaillancourt, a young survivor of a life-threatening illness, wished to publish a book and needed mentoring—I referred Michelle to Lori Schubert at the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

A few days later, Lori contacted me. If the QWF could fund a mentorship for Raphaëlla, would I take the job?

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FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT: Gadfly at the Festival

QWF Writes march

In the hospitality room at the Hôtel Gouverneurs in Trois-Rivières, you are greeted by two perky volunteers whose first question after introductions is: “Will you three be reading the French translations of your poems yourselves, or will you be requiring the services of a French reader?” Oh, my, you think. What translations? The hotel carpet begins to yaw under your chair. What was I thinking coming to a poetry festival in a city whose population is 97 percent French—without translations?

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From the Underground: A Writer’s Life with Zines

JM image 1

I had tapped into a vibrant community of punk writers who crafted great stories and then cut and pasted their work together, photocopied it, and released it with no thought of gaining attention from the world of mainstream literature. These were my first literary heroes. In a time before our current memoir boom, they wrote honest and true stories full of grit and heart. Read more →

QWF Writes: Why I Teach Brand-New CanLit by Natalee Caple

Caple-Natalee

In the beginning my desire to write was about me. It was about trying to see who I could be, what I might be good at and where I might find a community to belong to. Now, being a writer, being a parent and being a professor are all part of participating fully in the culture that sustains me. I feel that there is no better way to demonstrate how varied and valuable I think Canadian culture is than to devote my life to producing, promoting and teaching CanLit.