Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries. She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.
A long-time feminist and anti-war activist, she is best known for The Parvana Trilogy, which has been published around the world in seventeen languages, with more than a million dollars in royalties donated to Street Kids International and to Women for Women, an organization that supports health and education projects in Afghanistan. In 2006, Deb was named to the Order of Ontario.
What was the biggest inspiration for you to become a writer?
'My biggest inspiration to become a writer was the really great books I read - I wanted to be able to do that.'
What was your favourite book as a child?
'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
'Best thing - when the ideas spark off themselves in my head, also the independence. Worst - back ache from sitting too long at the desk, loneliness, when the work doesn't go well.'
When you're not writing, what do you do?
'When I'm not writing I work at my regular job with women with mental health problems, or I run, or read, or wander around aimlessly.'
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
'Not a writer? I'd always write, whether I earned money at it or not.'
Where do you do your writing?
'I prefer to write in public places. Canada is full of donut shops where I can sit and write and listen in on other people's conversations.'
Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?
'A Company of Fools is my favourite of all the books I've written. It was the hardest, and I think it's the best written.'
What makes you laugh?
'Lots of things make me laugh - when people do goofy things, Charlie Brown comics, old movies like Bringing Up Baby, and, when I'm really tired, just about anything.'
What makes you cry?
'Frustration, stupidity, helplessness, feeling powerless - and, when I'm really tired, just about anything.'