9. Writing Friends, Family, Foes and Crushes - The FOLD

9. Writing Friends, Family, Foes and Crushes

Ages 13+

Session Description

Writing Friends, Family, Foes and Crushes with S.K. Ali and Natasha Deen

Young adult authors SK Ali and Natasha Deen will discuss the art of creating believable and engaging relationships — romantic, platonic and/or familial with interviewer Alyssa Gray-Tyghter. They’ll offer practical tips for writers of all ages, explaining the stories behind the creation of their most popular and problematic characters.

For ages 13+


This session and all 2022 FOLD Kids Book Fest virtual sessions will be made available on-demand until December 12 with a virtual pass. Educators who register with a board pass code will continue to have access into the New Year.

Virtual passes are $20 and allow attendees to access our Virtual Clubhouse where you can connect with exhibitors, chat with authors and attendees. You can also compete on the leaderboard and participate in our virtual scavenger hunt for the chance to win prizes.


If the cost of the virtual pass is prohibitive, check out our Patron Pass program.

Featured Speaker(s)

S.K. Ali _Headshot
S.K. Ali
Natasha Deen_Headshot
Natasha Deen
A Black woman with long dark hair stands against a brick wall, looking over her right shoulder. She wears a pink shirt and a light denim jacket.
Alyssa Gray-Tyghter
S.K. Ali _Headshot

S.K. Ali

S. K. Ali is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of several books, including the Morris Award finalist Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z, both named top ten YA titles of the year by various media including Entertainment Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Her novel, Misfit in Love, was a People best book of summer 2021. She has several upcoming releases, including Love from Mecca to Medina, the sequel to Love from A to Z. She lives in Toronto with her family, which includes a very vocal cat named Yeti and a very quiet cat named Mochi.

Natasha Deen_Headshot

Natasha Deen

Guyanese-Canadian author Natasha Deen’s novel, In the Key of Nira Ghani, won the 2020 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and her upcoming novel, The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad, is a JLG Gold Standard Selection. When she’s not writing or visiting with schools and libraries, she teaches with the University of Toronto SCS and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Visit Natasha at www.natashadeen.com.

A Black woman with long dark hair stands against a brick wall, looking over her right shoulder. She wears a pink shirt and a light denim jacket.

Alyssa Gray-Tyghter

Alyssa Gray-Tyghter (she/her) is an educator, writer, speaker, and PhD student. For the last 10 years, she has taught a variety of subjects in a public middle school in Peel where she is now a guidance counsellor. In 2020, she began a series on Instagram (@AlyssaGTyghter) titled #HerstoricallySpeaking where she tackled Canadian Black History, Indigenous Stories, and other racialized communities in Canada. Her current research focuses of Black girlhood, identity, and belonging in Canada.

The FOLD is a remarkable and wonderful event for authors and attendees alike. What an amazing community, dedicated to the vital need for inclusive stories and the critical role they play in building a better world.

Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

Field Guide to the North American Teenager is my first novel and FOLD was my first Canadian literary festival. While American and Canadian culture overlap quite a bit, especially when it comes to bookshelves, Canadian literature is unique and I was very heartened by to be embraced by that community I consider home despite residing in the US. It was a homecoming I didn’t know I needed!

Ben Philippe, author of Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The Festival of Literary Diversity was an absolute joy–the organizers thought of *everything* and by anticipating authors’ needs, they freed us to focus on connecting with the audience and each other. There was no pretension, no posturing–just very genuine conversations with invested writers and engaged readers.

Zetta Elliott, author of Dragons in a Bag

I have been to a lot of writers festivals and the FOLD is definitely near the top of the list of those I want to be invited back to.

Harold Johnson, author of the memoirs Clifford and Firewater

Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.

Kathy Page, author of Dear Evelyn, winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Wherever I go in Canada and find another writer of colour, we eventually end up gushing about how great the FOLD is, how by normalizing diversity it liberates us to talk to audiences about craft. It’s hard to imagine the literary landscape returning to a prehistoric pre-FOLD era.

Ian Williams, Author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Reproduction

FOLD is a festival experience unlike any other I’ve had. The FOLD team strive to create a space that’s welcoming and engaging, while allowing for curiosity, ingenuity and the fostering of real community – and they succeed, every year.

Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out On The Ground

The FOLD is one of the most important literary events on this continent. By focusing on diverse voices and giving authors space to share their stories and speak their truths, it is revolutionizing the writing and storytelling realm as we know it.

Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow

Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. Sharing diverse stories and listening to different voices that broaden my understanding of the world has impacted me as a person and motivated me as a writer.

Ann Y.K. Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

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