|NEW NOVEL FOCUSES ON LAURENHILL STUDENTS TAKING THE BUS TO SCHOOL|
MONTREAL, APRIL 14, 2008- Monique Polak, a popular Montreal-based young adult novelist, paid a visit to the Grade 8 students of LaurenHill Academy Junior Campus in St. Laurent on April 11 to talk about the craft of writing a novel, as well as conduct three creative writing workshops. “If you want to become a writer, you must remember to never, ever give up and write all the time,” she advised the students.
Ms. Polak started her writing career as a journalist at The Gazette where she still contributes articles. For the past 22 years she has taught English Literature, Humanities, writing and journalism at Marianopolis College.
Ms. Polak also spoke about her newly published novel called 121 Express, which deals with a group of LaurenHill students who take the Montreal Transit Commission's 121 express bus everyday to and from school. The idea for the book evolved last year, when she and LaurenHill teacher Andrew Adams collaborated with the Grade 8 students on a literary anthology project called Quebec Roots that dealt with the school and the community. One of the chapters involved some of the students' misadventures when they took the 121 express bus, and included photos of what it was like to ride that bus line. A firm believer of doing advance research, Ms. Polak rode the 121 bus with a group of students on two occasions, to experience what they were writing about for the anthology. 121 Express, which is being published by Orca Soundings Publishing Co., will be officially launched at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival on April 30.
After her talk about the writing profession, followed by a reading of an excerpt from her book and a question and answer session, Ms. Polak ran three creative writing sessions throughout the course of the day. The students were asked to do a writing exercise based on character development, and were encouraged to read their writing samples aloud to the rest of the group.
The Grade 8 students at LaurenHill Junior Campus admire Ms. Polak's eight books so much, that they are used as part of the curriculum. “Monique's novels have such a high teen interest because the situations are based on real life and are applicable to what they go through as teens,” said LaurenHill teacher Colleen Long, who organized the event. “Kids today are so into computers, that it's important to find novels that will grab their interest and relate to them.” She also noted that Ms. Polak has such a devoted following with the LaurenHill Junior Campus students, that they eagerly anticipated her appearance for two months before the event.
For more information about Monique Polak and her books, consult her website at www.moniquepolak.com.
Michael J. Cohen