Fiona Lam

fiona-lamBy Tara Armstrong

Fiona Tinwei Lam is the author of two books of poetry, Intimate Distances and Enter the Chrysanthemum. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been included in over twenty anthologies. She is a co-editor of and contributor to the literary non-fiction anthology, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2008.  She edited The Bright Well, a collection of contemporary Canadian poetry about facing cancer, published by Leaf Press in 2011. Oolichan Books will be publishing The Rainbow Rocket, her first book for children in 2013.

Stepping into Higher Grounds Coffee on a drizzly Thursday morning, Fiona Tinwei Lam scans the room. I wave. She approaches. We shake hands. Then, we argue over who will pay for the tea. “I’ll pay. You’re a student,” insists Fiona. “It’s your time. Please,” I say. I win and we settle into the interview over two cups of herbal tea.

Did you always write, even as a child?

I started writing poetry regularly in grade seven. I was encouraged by my teacher to keep going, so I continued writing poetry through high school. But then when I reached university I thought it was time to be practical. So I did a degree in political science. Then I did two law degrees. And it wasn’t until after all of that, that I came back to writing, and completed an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. [Read more…]

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Dennis Cooper

dennis-cooperInterviewed by Leah Mol

With nine novels under his belt, Dennis Cooper has been called “the most dangerous writer in America,” (by the Village Voice) although he’s humbly stated that the tag is nothing more than a “journalistic convenience.” Along with his work as a novelist, he’s also published poetry collections, short story collections and nonfiction, has worked as an editor and publisher, and has collaborated on projects with artists of all kinds. His most recent collaboration is his seventh work with French director Gisele Vienne, a theatre piece called “The Pyre.” It will premiere in Paris in May.

Dennis is best known for his five-book George Miles Cycle (http://www.dennis-cooper.net/georgemiles.htm), which he planned for over a decade and then spent another ten years actually writing. The cycle was heavily influenced by and written as a result of his relationship with friend and lover George Miles. It’s been thirteen years since the last book of that cycle was published, but George Miles has certainly not been forgotten. Dennis is currently working on his tenth novel, a retelling of his real-life relationship with George, which he hopes will give people an opportunity to get to know “the real George.”

While working on both his theatre collaborations and a novel, Dennis still, somehow, finds the time to update his blog, which has become an artistic project in itself. You can read it here (http://denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.ca). He also found the time to answer some of my questions about his work and his life as a writer.

Was there ever anything you wanted to do other than be a writer?

Right before I decided to be a writer at 15, I wanted to be an archeologist. My parents arranged for me to go assist on an archeological dig in Peru for a summer, and the work was so tedious that I changed my mind. In my later teens, there was a period where I wanted to be a visual artist and filmmaker in addition to being a writer, but I didn’t have anywhere enough talent in those other two areas.
[Read more…]