On September 1st, I published my latest novel for teens, The Yo-Yo Prophet. Why did I write about street performing?
As an author, I have a love-hate relationship with performing. Once I get to a book reading or writing workshop, I’m eager to interact with my audience. But there’s often a moment beforehand where I’m dreading it – mostly because I’m worried about how an audience will react to what I have to offer.
Managing an audience is not unlike taming wild lions. Not that I’ve ever tamed lions, but the two are linked in my mind. A performer tries to work with the audience, to control its reactions – get people to laugh at the right part and fall respectfully silent when needed. In The Yoyo Prophet, 15-year-old Calvin faces his audiences head on. He feels the joy of successful performances as well as the horror and shame of public humiliation.
Today, the effect of public humiliation and success can be multiplied a thousand-fold through online exposure. With instant fame possible through viral videos, instant defeat can be just as swift and harsh. Calvin experiences both in the novel, and finally has to find his judgments about himself from within.
Street performers, like Calvin, are a different breed, since they need to capture the attention of a mobile and possibly indifferent audience and compel them to watch as well as pay for an unsolicited performance. The inspiration for writing about a street performer grew from my love of BuskerFest, held every August on the streets of Toronto. With a spectacular stunt, a joke or original music, buskers can transform an open street into a dynamic performance space.
To check out my video book trailer for The Yo-Yo Prophet, click here. To enter a draw for a signed copy of the book, simply comment on this post, or send me an email through my website before September 20th.