Curiosity and Candor | Take 4 | Featuring April Detzler
First, a big thank you!
I’m excited to finally put a pen to paper with you to discuss one of our favourite topics: books. We have shared a love of books for so many years, whether it’s passing one another weathered copies of some of our favourite reads, sneaking onto one another’s Audible, brainstorming book series podcast ideas, we talk books a lot. Some of our more ridiculous escapades have even taken us on book and tv series-inspired “road trips” across the city. We share the same taste in stories, and I have always enjoyed discussing characters, plots and complex storylines of an epic multi-book series with you.
I want to give my blog audience some insight into your favourite YA books, among other genres, how you came to love reading, and I also want to give you a chance to discuss your inspiring professional journey during the Pandemic. I know you haven’t had as much time to read this past year, and you’ve mentioned that frustrates you to think about sometimes. But, that being said, I think it is important to highlight how we all have experienced this past eighteen months in different ways, despite being ‘in it together.’ I love hearing about the creativity and innovation that has come out of the Pandemic for many people, and your experience and ingenuity is definitely a unique, inspiring case to highlight!
So, I would like to take a moment to introduce you, April Detzler, to the blog audience in this 5th iteration of Curiosity & Candor. Any follower of my blog will have read about you and seen pictures of you over the years (check out previous TIFF & International Women’s Day posts here & here), and I have even written about your younger sister here.
To those who don’t know April, here is a summary: My bestie “Apes” is a leader, a business owner, an inspiring fitness warrior, an organizer, an ice dancer, a traveler, a dog mom to her pup Juniper, a Godmom to my oldest son, a feminist, an environmentally conscious gal, a book nerd, a caretaker of her family, friends, partner and many plants, and a real bad *ss bae among so many other qualities. Don’t you want to get to know her more? Thought so.
Let’s get started!
KFT: Apes, in university we did almost everything together; we had participated in so many school activities, co-run events and teams, stayed out dancing and laughed all night eating chips and croissants while watching endless Laguna Beach, but it wasn’t until we lived together that we both realized our shared love of books. You are a self-proclaimed book nerd, and it was you who first introduced me to the Harry Potter Universe by telling me how much I would love it! (You were flabbergasted I hadn’t read any of the books, or seen any of the movies!) It was a warm summer day in 2006, and I remember you wanted to lend me the first book in the series but your sister Chloe had it, so I didn’t end up diving into it until 1.5 years later. I have this vivid memory of standing in our fourth-year university kitchen together, discussing Harry Potter and other books we loved. I sometimes wonder if that particular discussion ignited our passion and hunger for fantasy series exploration, not to mention the journey we often go on together when we become obsessed with a book or series.
That was a really long intro to get to my actual question (but a nice memory all the same): Knowing you are still a huge “Potterhead,” fantasy lover, and a proud Gryffindor, can you tell us a little bit about how you were introduced to the HP universe and what you would say to someone who hasn’t read it now?
(hiiii i’m so excited for this!!)
AD: Kel, I’m so excited to be a part of your Curiosity and Candor segment! After 15+ years of friendship, talking books, character arcs, storylines, podcasts, work endeavours, travel plans, life events, (etc) with you continues to be one of my favourite things. Perhaps it’s because we have so many shared interests…. If we get hooked on something LOOK OUT because it’s a guaranteed deep-dive (3am photo exchange of someone’s cousin who commented on a favourite character’s account 8 years ago, am I right?).
Ah, your Harry Potter intro moment – I remember this vividly! Our constantly populated university kitchen, in all its run-down glory, saw many-a-moments of discovery and witnessed many-a ‘deep chat.’ I was flabbergasted that you hadn’t read it yet mostly because it had been the centre of my imaginative universe and my favourite make-believe place to escape to for so many years.
I was introduced to HP by my Nana; she is certainly the person who most inspired my love of reading. A book-lover herself, she had me reading on my own by the time I was four. I remember one particular visit when I was about 14, Nana picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from her entryway table and, pushing it into my hands, said “I just read this and I know that you will love it.” (sidebar: I still have this original copy and it’s now a collector’s edition)
Several years ago I went to Harry Potter World for the first time, and I’m only 1% embarrassed to say that I shed tears on the Castle Tour. I shed more tears when I recounted the experience later that day, and yet again re-telling my story 2 days after that. These characters and this world became part of my adolescence in a way that I find difficult to describe. In a way that runs so deep that, during this HP World experience, I reverted back to an awestruck child from visual exposure to this world. The feeling was much like that of a kid at Christmas when you still believe in Santa Claus… and I didn’t think I would ever feel magic like that again, especially as an adult. Well Harry Potter World, you proved me wrong. That all sounds WAY too serious and dramatic… but I know you and other HP fans out there get it. To anyone who hasn’t read or connected with these stories, “magic” or “YA” or even “fiction” doesn’t have to be “your thing” in order for you to enjoy, relate, or learn from this series. My investment in this place, these people, and their journeys did not end when I finished reading the books. I continue to go back and visit them often, and as I grow in my own life I see the inspiration and life lessons in JK Rowling’s writing in a whole new way each time I read them. Her themes are riddled with big ideas, moral dilemmas, and coming of age hardships that speak to morality, perseverance, and honour. I am forever grateful for her stories and especially how they made me feel as though they were written just for me (true magic).
KFT: Babe, I get it. Our shared tears, mutual excitement and extreme passion over YA characters, addicting series’, series-turned-films, and Harry Potter is a unique, thought-provoking and invaluable makeup of our friendship. I loved hearing about your first experience at Harry Potter World; it truly is an otherworldly place that is filled with nostalgia, imagination and magic. I cannot wait for the two of us to travel there together someday- we can even bring the boys and introduce them to the magic!
Something else you touched on was your Nana and her influence on your reading. What a special bond that is for you both to share. Do you remember the first book you read together when you were a kid?
And to take it one step further, do you remember the first series you read on your own? Elementary and middle grade reading nostalgia can be really fun to dig into, and I don’t know if we ever have had an in-depth discussion about it! I would love to hear more about your early-reading days, and I am sure the readers who are parents of younger children are interested in hearing about children’s book recommendations from an avid reader like yourself.
AD: The thought of taking the boys to HP World brings the biggest smile to my face. I can’t help but wonder if we would embarrass them with our nerd out! (in the best way)
Oh my gosh… this is something I haven’t thought about in ages. I can’t say for sure this is the first book we read together, but it’s certainly one from the early days – Matilda by Roald Dahl. I’m sure I still have the original copy we shared somewhere amongst my childhood things… it’s definitely split in two at the spine. From there I dove into everything Roald Dahl, and that opened the door to other authors for young readers. I distinctly remember reading my first Nancy Drew around age 8 and I think it’s what really changed things for me. It was a book I had chosen with little influence, and I was immediately enamoured with all things “mystery.” This required me to go and get my own library card at the public library since I quickly worked through every available Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys volumes in the school library.
KFT: Oh my gosh, did you love the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collaboration novels? Those were my faves!!! What are some of your favourite mystery authors that you have read over time? Do you still read the occasional mystery now?
AD: Yes absolutely – having the two collide was such a fun exploration for my young brain. Some of my (our lol) favourite worlds have these extensions split off into subseries and I love when characters from one storyline surfaces in a different place. I find it so impressive when authors manage to tie these ends together (ie. the accomplished Cassandra Clare). I’ve dabbled through my adult years in the mystery genre but stick mostly to YA fiction/fantasy. I have this complete side obsession with true crime (which I think started when I was a kid reading the short stories in Reader’s Digest at the doctor’s office), but I usually consume this content through podcasts or tv. Off the top of my head, my favourite mystery novel would be Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
KFT: I remember devouring that book in 4th year university, during the summer we lived together.
And what a great segue into YA/Fantasy…our favourite! It’s a genre we always dream of having a podcast about…. one day.
Can you tell me what YA fantasy series you’re reading right now? (I mean, I know what it is, but our readers don’t and I am sure you are itching to talk about it!) Please fill us in on some of the series elements you are most enjoying.
AD: Ah yes, I remember that! Yet another book we talked about in our infamous kitchen – we’ve really come full circle in this interview lol.
EEK, I’m bouncing in my seat and gleefully grinning like a dork. I’m currently reading The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson, last in a three book series called The Remnant Chronicles. I haven’t been this into a series in a really long time; I’m so gripped that I’m reading until 2am and picking it right back up at 7am when my alarm goes off. A few things that top my favourite list so far…. I love a good love triangle and she teed that up right out of the gate (I still can’t decide who I want to come out on top – maybe neither!?). I think at the moment one of the most pleasant surprises is that I can’t predict how it’s going to end. For me, too much foreshadowing can take the fun out of things and leave too many nuggets, and you can often see a clear path to the end. With Mary’s storytelling she’s giving us the perfect mix of fictional history from this ancient world, and combining it with plot twists that are keeping us on our toes. Our fierce and fiery lead, Jezelia, is such a badass (can I say that?) that I’m inspired to learn how to throw a knife at a target from across the room. She’s also defying her society’s gender norms left right and centre, and staking her loyalty to people who are underprivileged and in need of someone to fight for change. Sprinkle all of that with a little touch of magic, and you’ve got the perfect YA fiction/fantasy for moi.
KTF: Ah, agreed, agreed, agreed. But who’s surprised? The Remnant Chronicles are so captivating, and I cannot wait for you to dive into Mary E. Pearson’s next two books, Dance of Thieves and Vow of Thieves. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have already started them!
You make some great points about Jezelia, and those comments remind me of so many fantastic female characters portrayed in YA fiction, especially in recent years. So many of our favourite fantasy fiction females have paved the way for others to enter our literary world (sorry, Bella, we aren’t looking at you), and I love how many of them have helped redefine what it means to be a strong woman. I think of Katniss, Jezelia, Hermoine, Rose, Emma, Tessa, Kazi, Clary and Sydney, to name a few. We all -both men and women- could learn a thing or two from these badass heroines.
I know you have some fan favourites. Who are your top three fantasy fiction females, and which traits of each character has inspired you most?
AD: HAHA I HAVE started Dance of Thieves! I’m nearly finished… such a gripping extension of The Remnant Chronicles and I’m already sad for the end (trying to slow down and make it last as long as I can).
I mean, it’s not an easy task to choose three. They all bring so much to the table and inspire me in their own unique ways (I’m hemming and hawing right now). Okay here are my picks:
- Katniss Everdeen – for her resourcefulness, resolve, and bravery
- Aelin Galathynius (Celaena Sardothien) – for her strength, prowess, and competency
- Hermoine Granger – for her loyalty and morality
KFT: I love these answers, and it is so true- it is hard to pick three. I find that it depends on how you are feeling in your own life at the moment. I often pick different warriors to channel depending on the day and my mood. I should, however, revisit the character of Aelin Galathynuis… I read Sarah J Mass’s first three books in the series, but never finished. (So thanks for the reminder!)
Speaking of characters who are dripping with resourcefulness and competency, my last question for you is around, well, YOU. The past 17 months have been unique, challenging, heartbreaking, devastating, thought-provoking and illuminating for many people around the world. We have all gone through something different during the Global Pandemic. For some, it has also been a time of learning, empowerment, strength and growth. That being said, this last question for you is two-fold:
1- How have you learned, created, and inspired growth this past year, either professionally or personally? As your best friend, I have seen the power you have generated, but would love to hear it from you here.
2- And secondly, which fictional heroine do you think you channeled most this year to help you seize the day? You may not have realized you were doing it, or maybe you haven’t thought about a comparable fictional bad*ss until now, but I would love for you to walk through this self-analysis here- don’t be shy or humble!
AD: I’m not sure I can fully appreciate just yet, everything that has transpired in my life since March 2020. I feel the most important thing to acknowledge off the top is how devastating this pandemic has been, and yet I’m about to talk a lot about the opportunity it’s afforded me. Like everyone else, my life has changed a lot in the past 17 months and still I’m incredibly grateful that my hardships have been insignificant compared to so many. Cultivating growth, for me, has almost always stemmed from gratitude. I’ve found that starting each day with a grateful view has allowed me to keep things in perspective and find my way forward. When it comes to my professional life, I can sum it up by saying that for the first 3 months of the pandemic I was laying on my couch and thinking that my small occupational health business wouldn’t survive the year. Then come July I signed the biggest contract of my career, and my business grew ten-fold. A lot of this is luck; lucky that I’m in an industry of high demand, lucky that I had a professional contact who made an epic introduction, and lucky that I had someone I trusted who agreed to come on board as a manager. The other part of this is adapting… and again I have to say that I’m lucky I was in a position to be able to do this and had a support system to lean on as I took risks and made some big decisions.
Over the last few months life has continued to change and expand in a lot of ways, still mostly in my work world. As my own harshest critic, I would say my biggest personal growth is that I’m proud of myself and the way I’ve moved through this change. I’m proud of the way my business has grown, but more-so of the team of people that this growth has afforded me. I’m so fortunate to have an unshakable group of healthcare professionals that I get to work with every single day. The services we are providing are allowing essential workplaces to stay open and productive, and we’ve been able to hire other small business owners, entrepreneurs, and people who were laid off because of the pandemic. We’re a team founded on hard work, reliability, and taking care of each other. Reflecting on the above, I believe that the biggest expander in business (and in life) is how you make people feel. That doesn’t have to mean agreeing with them, but rather giving someone the opportunity to feel heard and be seen. So much more will unfold from there… respect, understanding, empathy, leadership. I think that is true power.
Part 2 of this question makes me smile; I don’t have an obvious answer to this one as I wouldn’t dare consider myself as badass as our main girls lol. I suppose the overarching theme of my year has been adapting to change and pushing through challenges despite exhaustion (very much living in survival mode at times). Add to that, being responsible for a group of people and making sure they are taken care of all the while preserving your livelihood and quality of what you’ve promised others + in a time where parameters are ever changing… I think that sounds most like our Katniss (I’m giving her a lot of airtime!). As I type her name, I wince a little because the thought of her going rogue at every opportunity is certainly not me. I’d like to add a dash of Hermoine’s diplomacy and moral compass and hope that I’ve been able to stay the course as best I can through an unprecedented time.
Not to get cheesy on you, but if I’ve got some incredible women in my real life that I would be lucky to channel, including you! Let it be known how admirable your resiliency is, and watching you keep going day in and day out showed me that I too could keep going.
Thank you from the whole of my heart for this wonderful interview experience, opportunity to talk about some of our favourite things, and for the chance to debrief my pandemic experience so far. I’m so honoured to be a guest of Write Eat Read Repeat. It’s such a positive and happy place which we could all use more of right now!
KFT: And thank you to you, Apes. Celebrating the wins- big and small- is so important, especially during this tumultuous time in the world. There is a reason you and I have a weekly check-in to discuss one ‘win’ of the week and I truly rely on the strength and positivity from you, our friends, my partner and family to get me through the more difficult days. I am proud of you and everything you have accomplished this year! And channeling powerhouses like Katniss and Hermoine at any time is nothing to scoff at- in fact, maybe we are all our own superheroes, channeling one another on the tough days. That’s something to be proud of too.
Readers, thank you for joining me for another edition of Curiosity and Candor. I hope you loved reading this interview with one of my bestest friends and a truly special person in my life.
To read past C&C interviews, check them out here:
And until, next time
Keep on adventuring through stories ❤