Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Canadian Author Spotlight: Leah Bobet + a Giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting author Leah Bobet for a guest post and giveaway. I can remember the first time I saw the cover for Leah’s debut novel, Above. I was so excited when I saw the CN Tower, and I was thrilled to learn that Leah is from Toronto, which is just two hours west of where I live. Today Leah’s going to talk to us about why she sets her books in Canada.

A Guest Post by Leah Bobet

Pretty much every time someone sees the cover of Above, my first novel, this is the first thing they say: "Oh, there's a CN Tower on the cover!  It's set in Toronto?"

They say it with this little light in their eyes, and with a surprised smile.

Above is set in Toronto.  Of the next three novels I have planned, and am working on right now, one's also set here, in the neighbourhoods where I hang out and went to school and live.  The second spends some time in a rebuilt post-apocalyptic Windsor, which is a really long story all by itself and would take us about five paragraphs to get into.  The third is a downtown Vancouver kind of story and wouldn't fit anywhere else.
I didn't deliberately try to be one of those authors who Sets Things In Canada, but...well, let's just look at that list again, right?  And until Marie sent around the questions and prompts for guest posts for this event, I never really thought about why.

This isn't a question of deliberate nationalism or marketing, or of "write what you know"; I've set stories in Vermont, Greece, the Northwest Territories, entirely made up fantasy worlds, outer space.  It takes a lot of research to get those right.  Research is cool and fun!
...okay, so clearly it isn't about that.
What it's about, I think, is memory.

There's a layer of memory painted over everything in the places where we live: that's the tree I sat under with a guy I had a crush on for a whole Victoria Day afternoon, on our second date; there's the corner where me and twenty of my friends would pile onto the Queen streetcar to see Battle of the Bands shows in high school; there's the Polish restaurant we'd go to, in university, before watching Buffy on Wednesday nights.  When you live in a space, it stops being just space: it turns into a strange organizational system, where every park bench or building or landmark you see reminds you of someone or something important.  Everywhere is a kind of souvenir.  Everywhere is personal.

And so the first time I read Scott Pilgrim, or Catherine Bush's Minus Time, or Paul Kropp's Ellen/Elena/Luna, I did it with this little light in my eyes and a surprised smile: they were talking about my city.  They were talking about places I go, and places I'd attached memories to, and then the next time I went there I had this phantom set of memories: little ghosts of things that happened in stories that would fire off the same way as the things I'd actually done and seen there.

I love reading what other people see in my city, my country, my space.  I love seeing other people's memories and emotions and attachments layering over my own: it's like the best happy gossip about a friend you love.  It feels like having company.  It feels like recognition.  It feels like moving through something bigger than you, and not being alone.
...and I guess that's why I set my books in Canada.  Because then I get to craft these ghosts of stories, of memories, of people, and meet them on the street when I'm walking to the corner for milk.  I get to make my own city more alive.
And, y'know, then you can stop in the park and talk to them too.

About Leah: 
Leah Bobet drinks tea, wears feathers in her hair, and plants gardens in back alleys. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Find Leah online:

Add Above to GoodReads

Buy Above

Ok guys, I admitted this to Leah, now I have a confession to make to you: this guest post seriously made me tear up. I'm a great big sap, and her words just hit me straight in the heart. Thank you so much for being here today, Leah, and for your enthusiasm about this Canadian Spotlight event. You make me extra proud to be Canadian!

Leah and the amazing people at Scholastic Canada have very generously donated two copies of Leah’s debut novel, Above as part of the Canadian Spotlight Month. Isn’t that exciting? Two lucky Canadian readers of Ramblings of a Daydreamer will win a copy!

How to enter:
*Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. There’s one free entry where all you have to do is click Enter - the rest are optional and get you extra entries.
*This giveaway will end July 31st at 11:59 PM. Winners will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
*OPEN TO CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY! International readers, don’t worry, there will be plenty more giveaways this month for you to enter. ;-)

Once again, a huge thank you to Leah for participating, as well as Scholastic Canada -  Nikole in particular. You guys are amazing, and it's been an absolute pleasure working with you. 

This post has been part of the Canadian Spotlight Month. Click the graphic below to check out the schedule and all things Canadian here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. 


  1. I never really thought of why at times I am more connected to books set in Canada, but Leah hit the nail right on the head. It's because I can really see whats going on, I know the area, walk the streets, have seen the people. Everything seems so much realer. Such a great post by Leah and thank you Marie for Celebrating all things Canadian :)

  2. There is something extra special about efforts to make your city more alive - something I hope to do myself someday about my home on the Prairies.

  3. Love this post! I always feel a kind of kinship with books set in Canada--- cities I've been to, lived in, etc. There's just something special about it that seems to connect me more directly to the books.

  4. I love Leah's post. I think she captured the essence of why people love reading about familiar places very well. Stories come alive and become so much more personal when you know the setting in real life.

  5. I'm from Winnipeg but love Toronto whenever I can be there. I used to be excited to go all that way to try 'Speaker's Corner' and ramble about Corey Hart at the Much Music TV studios!

    I discover something to see every time. Toronto has Purina Hall Of Fame, a museum dedicated to animals who save PEOPLE's lives (it ain't all dogs)!

    Canadians love supporting all the others; whether just born here (Hélene Young), moved here later (Dorothy Gilman), or staying. Leah Bobet who is new to me, doesn't strive for 'Canadiana and doesn't have to. All of our regions are very special places and draw you in. So too does your home.

  6. Love the guest blog! As someone who lived in Toronto for her university years, I can definitely connect to the nostalgia of this post. (Also looking forward to this post-apocalyptic Windsor thing, being a born-and-bred type.)
    My girlfriends and I made a habit of hitting East, across from the Chum City building, and then going down the street to La Creperie for dessert. We also spent an unholy amount of time at 1000000 Comix, because we're nerds like that.

  7. I loved the fact that the CN Tower was on the cover of ABOVE. I'm looking forward to reading it in the near future (I hope). I can't wait to see how Toronto plays a part in this book. :)

  8. I've read a few books from Canadian authors, or books set in Canada, and I've really enjoyed them. I've been to Canada on a few occations with family to visit the Falls, but its been years since I've been back.

  9. I wish to go to Toronto one day because I really, really want to meet my relatives! I also heard that Toronto is a fun city, so I hope to experience it!

    I entered as Sam Sain. :)

  10. This sounds like such a brilliant novel! I was so tempted to buy a copy, but it is much too expensive for me haha. The storyline is very creative!

  11. Although there are quite a few books set in Canada, most don't reflect this on the cover, and that's why I love the cover of Above!

    I loved reading about Leah's memories of the places she has lived in Canada, and how they provide such rich material to write with! Her other novels that she is working on right now that are set in Canada sound really interesting too!

  12. the CN tower was the first thing to make me want to read this book, I loved Leah's post! I feel the same way about my town, it's full of memories :)


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