Sunday, November 14: 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Writing for a Young Adult Audience

with Erin Bow, Sara Martin, Sarah Raughley, and Heather Smith.


Unavailable online

YA is a genre defined by its audience. So what does it mean to write Young Adult literature?

This session is for those who are interested in writing for the Young Adult market. Sara Martin will talk to Erin Bow, Heather Smith, and Sarah Raughley about their own experiences, challenges, and successes in writing YA fiction. They will explore how to define this sprawling genre, how they were drawn to it, and how they approach writing for their audience. Join us to hear their tips on writing for Young Adult readers and finding success in this competitive market.

  • Erin Bow is an award-winning poet and novelist, whose honours include the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the CBC Literary Award for poetry, and a Governor General’s Award. She was trained as a physicist, and does science writing about things like black holes and quantum gravity. Her novels are written in her garden shed, in the rotating company of her novelist-husband, two joyfully creative tween-aged kids, and an unnerving number of shed spiders.

  • Sara Martin is a high school librarian in Kitchener, where she has been connecting books and readers for nearly 20 years.  When she’s not sharing her love of reading, Sara can often be found “Zoom baking” with her family or singing with the award-winning DaCapo Chamber Choir.

  • Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to sci-fi fantasy TV to Japanese role-playing games and other geeky things, all of which have largely inspired her writing. Sarah has been nominated for the Aurora Award for Best YA Novel and works in the community doing writing workshops for youths and adults. On top of being a YA writer, Sarah has a PhD in English, which makes her a doctor, so it turns out she didn’t have to go to medical school after all. As an academic, Sarah has taught undergraduate courses and acted as a postdoctoral fellow. Her research concerns representations of race and gender in popular media culture, youth culture, and postcolonialism. She has written and edited articles in political, cultural, and academic publications. She continues to use her voice for good. You can find her online at

  • Heather Smith is originally from Newfoundland, and now lives in Waterloo, Ontario. Her novel, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, won the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award and the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Award, and was shortlisted for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction. Her middle-grade novel, Ebb & Flow, was short-listed for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award and was the winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Heather has also written three picture books for young readers. Her Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing.