Author Visits: Presentations

Whether you want one “Meet the Author” visit in your library, or several days of presentations to all the students in your school, contact me to ask about availability. And be sure to check out potential sources of funding for an author visit.

Here are some of my tried and true presentation topics. (I do get tired of saying the same old thing, so feel free to suggest a new theme that suits your venue.)


"Making up Stories" by Catherine Austen: slide show

  • “Making up Stories” (Grades JK-3; 45-60 minutes)

Virtually meet the cat that helped me write a book about ancient Egypt. Learn what every writer needs to succeed; explore everyday writing opportunities you couldn’t find 3,000 years ago; and discover how a picture book is made. With ancient Egyptian props and cute cat pictures.

This talk is perfect for the youngest grades, or for schools celebrating Family Literacy Day. The presentation includes a reading and can be extended with an optional writing exercise with hieroglyphs and pet anecdotes.


10 Tricks for a Fearless Writing Life slide show

  • “10 Tips for a Fearless Writing Life” (Grades 3+; 60 minutes)

Get the scoop on what it takes to become an author, summed up in an hour and accompanied by cartoons, memes, and fun facts about phobias. Learn how to spot a good story idea, face years of rejection, and take grammar tips from Yoda.

This talk is perfect for students in elementary or junior high school, and it’s especially suited to those considering writing as a profession. (But its “tricks” are adaptable to every career.)

The presentation includes a reading (in a devil voice) and can be extended with an optional writing exercise to transform real-life moments into fictional scenes.


Dystopian fiction presentation

  • “Writing and Reading Dystopian Fiction” (Grades 6+; 60 minutes)

Learn why perseverance is important to authors and heroes alike. Read cruel statistics about the publishing industry and learn to rise above them. Review a scene from the first awful draft to the final excellent polish. Build on your feelings of not belonging and create a dystopian hero.

This presentation was developed for classes studying All Good Children, but it’s perfect for any English class or writing group. (I’ve been told it’s a great help to teachers instilling the value of revision.)

The presentation can include a reading, if requested. It always includes publishing tips for teen writers, and it can be extended with an optional writing exercise to develop a compelling protagonist.


Subversive reading bookbag

  • “Reading as a Subversive Activity” (Grades 6+; 60 minutes,)

Book clubs for children? Parents and teachers encouraging kids to read novels? These are modern notions. For ages, fiction was thought to drive people mad, make them sad, or turn them bad. (It was especially dangerous for women, people of colour, and the poor, as it might give us ideas beyond our station.) Now we know that reading is good for us in so many ways!

This talks presents the social history of reading, with its wild claims and prejudices revealed and its costs and benefits tallied. Guaranteed to make every reader feel better about her late-night anti-social book binges.

The presentation was developed for Red Maple readers (grade 7-8) but is adaptable to high school or CEGEP students. It ends with advice on transitioning from reader to writer.


Walking Backward book cover

  • “Narrative Fallacies: Inventing a Writing Process” (Grades 6-Adult; 60 minutes)

Humans are storytellers, and writers are doubly so: in our work; and in our identities as writers.

I thought I knew how and why I wrote my first novel, Walking Backward, but when I reread my journals, I found a whole other story, full of moments I’d mixed up and rearranged to create to a writing process that made sense (but which I hadn’t actually followed).

This talk presents the real and fictional writing processes of numerous authors. It was developed for students at Bishop’s University studying Walking Backward, but I’ve adapted it to grades 7-8. The talk can include a reading, if requested, and can be extended with freewriting and journalling exercises.   


Journal and pens

  • “Writing through a Lifetime” (Grade 10-Adult; 60 minutes)

This is a candid talk about why we write, how to write for different age ranges, and how to stay sane through the ups and downs of a writing life. About craft, genre, and the publishing landscape in all its brutality.

The presentation includes a reading of short fiction and can be extended with a writing exercise to explore dark emotions.


I have many more presentations on various facets of writing (e.g., Revision; Character Development), which you can read about on my “Writing Workshops” page.


If you’re feeling super casual, or you’re studying one of my books in class, I can drop by to perform a reading, talk about my writing process and the themes of that book, and answer your questions.


Contact me to request a visit.

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