"Salt Lake City is getting to be a hotbed of writing!" said a New York City editor to me recently. He was referring to the Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding First Young Adult Novel, "Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night" given to Utah writer Ann Edwards Cannon. "What is happening out there?"
There's probably no answer to that except admitting the extraordinary commitment of the Utah authors to write good literature, and it seems that they are getting some literary kudos.Ann Cannon, the newest in a line of celebrated Utah authors who is widely published in local periodicals believes her writing began long ago, when she was bedridden for a year. "I had strict instructions from our doctor no walking, no running, no swimming, no biking. With nothing else to do, I was forced to discover books."
And the writing of the books naturally followed.
While being a writer was exciting, it did not monopolize her interests. During high school Cannon looked at other careers possibly dancing and really resisted writing even though she was encouraged in advanced placement English classes. It was not until she was in graduate school at Brigham Young University, with a declared major in English, that she began writing again.
About her first novel, Cannon suggests that there are some connections with people in her life; but mostly, the characters come from knowing about young adults based on specific experiences. For example, while in graduate school, Cannon worked at a fast-food restaurant and often heard the slang and glib vernacular of high school students.
When writing her first novel, she "heard" those voices again and realized that, not only do they talk in a unique way, but that young people are concerned with doing what is appropriate and being with the "in crowd." This was one of her interests while writing about Cal and his experiences, to make them appear conscious of themselves with a strong uncertainty of the future.
Is there a second novel in the making? By coincidence, it was sent to the publisher the day of this interview. It is also a book written in first person and about young people who continue to ask who they are while dealing with relationships and changes that are inevitable.
Cannon is a wife and the mother of three children. She loves animals of all kinds, and the family is enjoying a litter of seven new puppies at the present. She is a "listener" of music, would like to take bagpipe lessons, enjoys all sports and gardening. "I am growing a garden," she laughed, "where one of everything that ever killed anyone in an English murder mystery is growing."
Humor? Cannon declares that is a legacy from her parents, Patti and LaVell Edwards, who were famous for their funny stories around the dinner table; emphasizing the absurd, "savoring just how crazy things can be in life.
"Humor is a coping mechanism. It's how I see the world. It's a marginal thing; a very slight place between what is and what ought to be as one looks how things don't fit together properly."