Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Performing Arts grad set on path to write and illustrate children's books

By Tracey Denofreo, Marketing and Communications Office

Photo: David Denofreo

Sometimes, the best way to start is by simply exploring. Just ask Britt MacDuff, who was fresh out of high school when she first set foot in an eastern philosophy class at Douglas College, eager to learn about the things that mattered to her.

“I studied amazing things: philosophy, film history, art history, anthropology, world religion, French, children's literature, creative writing, music, acting . . . it was all so fascinating," she says. "Art history pulled me in, but then film studies caught me off guard with how interesting it was.”

Britt’s tour through college ended eight years later – “I took a few years off in the middle” – when she graduated in June with an Associate of Arts Degree in Performing Arts. The last two courses she took, creative writing and children’s literature, made her career path clear: writing books for children.

“Those courses really brought out the spark in me,” she says. “It was just the perfect fit for me at the right point in my life.” Britt combined her writing skills with a course on illustrating picture books at Emily Carr University, with plans to write and illustrate her own book.

For Britt, learning more about her chosen craft is as easy as reading the works of her favourite authors. “I love Roald Dahl because he takes you into a whole different world,” she says. “Francesa Lia Block, author of the Weetzie Bat series, is another favourite. Her writing is so beautiful; it’s really helping me release myself from the pressure of writing a certain way. I’m learning to write more magically.”

Britt’s next adventure will see her heading off to on a European expedition, starting with the United Kingdom where she plans to visit Roald Dahl’s writing hut, seek out Lewis Carroll’s birthplace and spend some time at Beatrix Potter’s house.

“I always create themes for things, trying to create the interesting out of the mundane, so this is my ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ trip. And I’m really keeping it to 80 days!” she says.