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Harriet Zaidman is a children's writer living in Winnipeg. Her young adult novel, Second Chances, won the prestigious Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People in 2022 and it's nominated for the 2022 MYRCA Northern Lights Award. Her middle years story, City on Strike, was nominated for the Bilson Award in 2020. She has also written three picture books for young children. Her inspiration for writing came from the many books she read as a teacher-librarian, her job for 25 years. She gets ideas from the world around her - her dog, stories from her family and important events that shape our lives. Second Chances recalls how young people's lives were upended by the terrible polio epidemics of the 1950s, while City on Strike explores how children navigated the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. Both deal with realistic family issues and systemic racism toward minority groups, topics that are still relevant today.
Harriet also writes book reviews for The Winnipeg Free Press and CM Canadian Review of Children's Materials, and articles for The Cottager Magazine. She loves to try new recipes and, not surprisingly, writes about her cooking adventures in a blog: North End Nosh.
Getting to Know You
I didn’t hide any books from my parents. My mother was a great reader and I tried to emulate her habit of always having a book on the go - a classic or a contemporary novel. When I was in Grade 2 I picked up her copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and spent the winter ploughing through it. She never said, “That’s too hard for you.” My dad read Canadian history books and discussed them with me. I appreciate their examples.
A powerful line that sticks with me comes from the last line of that same book, A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing, than I have ever done. I was only in Grade 2, but it had an impact on my thinking.
My desk is far from perfect.
If I’m writing, I worry about my characters and if they’re authentic.
Winnipeg is located in Treaty One territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. THIN AIR, the annual celebration produced by the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, strives to honour the First People’s rich tradition of sharing stories as the ground for building genuine community and restoring right relations.