Everyone should have a Gandalf

This brief film clip is testament to the profound effect a teacher can have upon the course of your life. Forgive the stumbles and the pauses. We filmed this at Toronto’s jewel of a book store, Bakka Phoenix.

Mentor. It’s a simple enough word until you have one, and then it becomes a whole different word. Full of layers, and emotions, and hidden values.

I’d like to introduce you to my first writing mentor, Caitlin Sweet.

Yes. This is the youthful and lovely  woman whom I call my Gandalf.

Caitlin’s a first-rate author, whose books have won much critical acclaim and praise. But beyond that, she’s warm, and smart, and educated. The intersection of her path and mine was a huge pivot point in my career–she was endlessly supportive during the birth of The Trouble With Fate.

Case in point. Before I registered for the class she teaches at The U of T’s Continuing Education Creative Writing Program, I had become increasingly disheartened about my work in progress. Despondent over my chances of ever finishing a book.

Walking into her Fantasy class at the University of Toronto changed that.

The video was shot last month by Astral Road Media. During the morning session, the plan was for me to speak about my five favourite urban fantasy writers. When I mentioned to Rich Fahle how much I wanted to speak about Caitlin even though she’s NOT an urban fantasy writer, he said, “We’ll shoot it anyway.”

But–ahem–I hadn’t primed myself for speaking about my Gandalf. The youtube clip you saw was done completely off the cuff, which resulted in that Hor-rific stumble as I tried to think my way through this sentence: “Caitlin writes literary fantasy.”

*Big toothy grin*

Want to hear my inners thoughts during that dreadful pause the followed “literary”? …Wait a minute, you can’t say literary fantasy. You’re holding up her novel, The Pattern Scars, which was sold as a literary horror. Okay, no problem, just take out the word fantasy and put in the word “horror”…oh shit…Whenever I try to say that word it comes out as WHORE…OMG, OMG, don’t say whore. Think it out…it’s two syllables. DON’T SAY WHORE.

Yeah, I’m going to run out and get myself a job in the media.

In meantime, here’s my thought to those you currently mentorless: Get yourself a Gandalf, guys.


About Leigh Evans

Leigh's an urban fantasy writer, living in Southern Ontario.
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6 Responses to Everyone should have a Gandalf

  1. I concur with your suggestion of gaining a mentor to help you learn the ins and outs of whatever business you wish to achieve in, be it writing, the arts, or any profession. However, I’ve never heard it called “Getting yourself a Gandalf” before. I LOVE it. I will remember your phrase. You are very creative. 🙂

  2. Leigh Evans says:

    Thanks, Wendy. That made my day. *grin* And I needed my day improved because this action sequence I’m writing is making me tear out my hair!

  3. Lovely bit of absolute truth, about Caitlin and about mentors. Congrats on the new book, and here’s to much success!

  4. Hi Leigh, Loved your video. Caitlin is a gem all right. I did the images for her book in one improvised swoop immediately after finishing T P S, it was so powerful. I just wanted to stay there. I assumed I would be “finishing” the drawings, but they seemed to please everyone, so I left them raw and gnarly. A contrast to her gorgeous prose.

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