Hi, I’m Emma! Welcome to my virtual living room. I assume that if you’ve found your way here, I don’t need to tell you why books are great/necessary/vital. But I will tell you a bit about myself, so you can decide if we’re on the same… page. HEH?!
I grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario where there were no malls or movie theaters and the closest ‘city’ was nearly an hour’s drive away. So I became a reader out of sheer boredom and a lot of parental encouragement. In my early years, I absolutely smashed through the collections of R.L. Stine and Lurlene McDaniel, because apparently I was interested in juxtaposition from a young age.
In college, I studied journalism, followed by English literature and creative writing at the University of Western Ontario. Then, with my diploma and degree in hand, I set out to travel Central America.
The plan was to “make it” as a freelancer. But that didn’t quite go as planned, on account of there not being much of a plan at all. I mostly became really adept at living on a shoestring budget while contending with relentless anxiety as I watched my bank account balance disappear. So, I decided it was time to get a regular job for a bit, and what else could I do, but teach English? I thought if I could help students learn to care about books and writing the way I did, I would be doing just fine. I headed to Cambodia where an old friend said they would be able to help me get set up with a job and an apartment. I’m utterly and completely privileged to have been able to make this move along with so many other foreigners. But ultimately, after two and a half years at the same school, I felt like the daily tasks of lesson planning, grading and trying to keep a classroom in order just didn’t fit quite right. While being in the classroom wasn’t the experience I was hoping for, I realized that everyday I was looking forward to going to the school’s library for my prep hours, just to be near the books.
It made me think back to my childhood, and all those days spent I spent reading and visiting bookstores whenever I could. I have such fond memories of stopping at a store called The Highway Bookshop on all of our family road trips. I remember being in total awe of the floor to ceiling shelves that went on for what seemed like forever.
“I think it’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever.”—J.K. Rowling
The feeling of walking into The Highway Bookshop and into the library at the school in Cambodia were so similar, and it struck me that I would rather be playing a small role in bringing a book into existence, long before it makes its way to a classroom.
It didn’t take long after I started researching publishing programs, for the one at Centennial College to jump out at me. It covered all facets of the industry from sales and marketing to graphic design and editorial. And so I left my job in Cambodia, moved to Toronto and dove headfirst into being a full time student again. It finally felt like I was on a path that might knit together my erratic career path thus far. After completing a gruelling schedule of 14 classes in 8 months, I am now doing my final placement with a literary agency called The Rights Factory.
As I write this, the world is in the midst of handling a pandemic. And although the first couple weeks of these sudden changes had me crying in the bathtub overwhelmed with anxieties about the future, most days, I remain hopeful. Books and art and music are what get people through hard times. And that’s what lead me to create this blog. I believe in the power of literature, to tap into when we need comfort, distraction, or a little bit of guidance. So those are the books that I’ll be exploring on this blog; nonfiction that can teach us and speculative fiction that can change us. Books that really make us reconsider our perspective and stick with us long after we close them. Books that make us better.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride. It took a while to get here.
“A house without books is like a room without windows.”