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Charis Cotter

Charis Cotter

Photo: Andrew Johnson

Charis Cotter is an award-winning children’s author who grew up beside a cemetery and has been living with ghosts ever since. She studied English in university and went to drama school in London, England. Now she lives at the end of a road by the ocean in Newfoundland, where the landscape and plentiful supply of ghosts inspire her work. Her first book, Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919–1939, won the 2005 Toronto Heritage Award. Since then, Charis has written books about kings, queens, child prodigies, famous authors and ghosts. Her spooky, suspenseful novels—The Swallow: A Ghost Story, The Painting and The Ghost Road—have won awards and enthusiastic reviews. 

Charis has worked in schools and libraries across Canada, using drama and storytelling to bring her books to life. She has worked with Newfoundland students to collect traditional ghost stories from their communities and has published two books of these ghost stories, written and illustrated by the students. Newfoundland ghost stories continue to inspire her work and in 2020 she published Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland and Footsteps in Bay de Verde: A Mysterious Tale. Her fourth novel, The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story, was released in August 2021 by Tundra Books. Her books have been translated into Korean, German and Russian.

An editor with twenty-five years’ experience helping writers bring their books to life, Charis works as a writing coach for writers of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and young adult fiction.

Email:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada
City:
St. John's
Province:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Genre:
Picture books, middle-grade fiction, non-fiction history, children's biography, middle-grade non-fiction
I write professionally in the following language(s):
English

Publications

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story. 2021, Tundra Books
Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland, Art by Genevieve Simms. 2020, Nimbus
Footsteps in Bay de Verde: A Mysterious Tale, Illustrated by Jenny Dwyer. 2020, Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
The Ghost Road. 2018, Tundra Books
The Painting. 2017, Tundra Books
The Swallow: A Ghost Story. 2014, Tundra Books
A World Full of Ghosts, Art by Marc Mongeau. 2009, Annick Press
Born to Write: The Remarkable Lives of Six Famous Authors. 2008, Annick Press
Wonder Kids: The Remarkable Lives of Nine Child Prodigies. 2008, Annick Press
Kids Who Rule: The Remarkable Lives of Five Child Monarchs. 2007, Annick Press
The Ferryland Visitor, Artwork by Gerald L. Squires. 2016, Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919-1939. 2004, Firefly Books

Awards

Bruneau Family Children’s/YA Literature Award, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards for The Ghost Road, 2020
Hackamatack Children's Choice Award for The Painting, 2019
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature, Atlantic Book Award for The Painting, 2018
IODE Violet Downey Book Award for The Swallow: A Ghost Story, 2015
Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence for Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919-1939, 2005
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:
Yes

WITS

Are you available for public presentations and/or workshops:
Yes
Are you available for school visits?:
Yes
School Presentation Description:

 

Newfoundland Ghost Stories

A virtual school visit from Charis and a host of Newfoundland ghosts! She’ll take your students on a creepy tour of the most haunted island in the world, showing how traditional ghost stories reflect the landscape, culture and history of Newfoundland.

Charis had two new Newfoundland middle grade ghost books released in 2020: Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland and Footsteps in Bay de Verde: A Mysterious Tale. Her presentation features stories from both books, a Q&A, a discussion guide and a ghost story challenge for students to collect their own ghost stories from families and friends. The virtual visits includes a Power Point presentation with illustrations from both books.

For some reason, Newfoundland has more ghosts than anywhere else. Ghosts in the ocean, ghosts on the barrens, ghosts in lighthouses, and ghosts at kitchen parties. Some stories go back hundreds of years, like the Old Hollies, said to be the victims of shipwrecks, who are heard screaming in the wind just before a bad storm. She tells a very old story about a ghostly longboat glimpsed in the fog near Baccalieu Island and describes an unsettling experience she had herself on the barrens one dark Newfoundland night. She ends with a spine-chilling account of ghostly footsteps in Bay de Verde in the 1920s.

Curriculum Connections

Language Arts / Reading and Listening / Heritage and Culture / Spiritual Beliefs 

 

School Presentation Length:
One hour
School Intended Audience:
Grades 4 to 6
School Audience Size:
125 children
School Presentation Fee:
$300 plus HST in person; $200 plus HST virtual visit
Interested in participating in the Union’s Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools program:
Yes
Interested in participating in the Northern Ontario WITS program:
Yes