Janani Whitfield photo
Local writer Diane Robinson proudly sports the medal she received for winning a Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist award. She also holds the book, Sir Princess Petra: The Pen Pieuya Adventures, that has won her acclaim.
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Writer honoured with prestigious award
Diane Robinson wins Lieutenant Governor of Alberta emerging artist award
Jun 26, 2012 01:06 pm |
By Janani Whitfield
If anyone knows the lesson of perseverance and the rewards that lie at the end of it, it’s Diane Robinson. After years of rejections, the local author managed to get her children’s book published and her work paid off in a big way on June 14, when she received a Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award.
“It’s so cool,” she effuses. “It’s been a long, hard road to get here.”
When she received a call a month ago informing her she had won the award, she was skeptical. She remembers her initial response was to wonder, ‘Really? Is this a prank call?’ But she has since received a medal and a cash prize of $10,000 to prove it was no prank.
“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since,” she says of her response to winning the prestigious award. Her book has since won a second place in the chapter book category for the US-based 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards as well.
Robinson says she’s always had a storytelling urge within her. “I’ve had a wild imagination since I could first imagine,” she says. The title character of her book, Sir Princess Petra: The Pen Peiyu Adventures, was insistent in having her story told.
“She kept popping up in my head, saying, ‘Hello?! I have something to say!’ She’s such a strong character,” said Robinson, adding that Petra’s adventures are targeted to six to nine-year-olds. The story shares moral messages of respect, kindness and anti-bullying, that come through the characters’ words and actions. “I thought that was a really good message for kids in that age group.”
Writing a story could take a few weeks, and editing it could take some months, but it could – and in Robinson’s case, it did – take nine years and 27 rejections before Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing picked it up.
But she felt she had spent enough time in school, both for journalism and with the Institute of Children’s Literature, to know her stuff and know that the story deserved to be heard.
The adjudicators of the emerging artist awards agreed, saying, “Her writing grabs you, is perfectly pitched, nuanced, a fresh approach.”
“These artists represent the best of a community that challenges, enlightens and entertains us,” said Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell in a press release. “Creativity of this magnitude is infectious.” The awards can be a catalyst for great things for an emerging artist, notes the press release, and in fact, Robinson notes it has already opened doors for her. For instance, one Albertan bookstore had repeatedly ignored her requests to carry and sell her book, but after she informed the staff about winning the award, they changed their tune and agreed to carry it.
The other eight winners of the award include a filmmaker, a photographer/sculptor, a singer, a dancer/choreographer and Calgary-based theatre director Eric Rose. The circumstances of meeting a theatre director at the awards ceremony also turned out to be serendipitous for Robinson, who had been interested in turning her book into a play. “We got chatting,” she said, adding of turning her book, and its upcoming two sequels, into a play - “It’s on the agenda.”
In the meantime, Robinson is keen to continue doing school book tours, talking to children about reading and writing. Her advice to young aspiring writers is, “Turn off the TV, quit the games, just read and read and read.”
She encourages anyone who has a dream, to stick to achieving their vision. “If you’re not in for the long haul, drop out now.” While a person has to be able to take criticism and learn from it, if they know in their hearts something is a good idea, she encourages them not to give up on it. “If it’s your passion, just don’t give up.”
People interested in reading the book can purchase it locally at Queen Bee, Value Drug Mart, or the Co-op pharmacy.