Audrey Niffenegger

NiffeneggerInterviewed by Kelsey Savage

Audrey Niffenegger is the acclaimed author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, winner of the 2006 British Book Award for Popular Fiction as well as the 2005 Exclusive Books Boeke Prize. In addition to also being shortlisted and nominated for a myriad of awards, in 2009 TTW was made into a film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. Her second novel, A Fearful Symmetry, keeps to the precise and haunting tone Niffenneger so flawlessly navigates in her work.

Beginning in the world of printmaking, art, and education, Audrey’s path hasn’t been altogether linear. Having admired her writing since TTW came out in 2003, I reveled in the opportunity to start up a dialogue with one of my favourite authors. Despite being immersed in projects in London, she gave me the great honour of agreeing to discuss the ins and outs of her writing career trajectory via email.

When you are working on a writing project, what does an average day look like for you?

I don’t exactly have a schedule, or a certain number of words I am supposed to write or anything of that nature. I’m a night person, so the morning is devoted to drinking coffee and reading the New York Times. My studio assistant, Ken Gerleve, arrives at 11:00 and we discuss the day’s projects. Then he goes off to do his work and I answer email, or sit and stare at the computer. At some point in the afternoon I slowly begin to do some writing or make some art. I am most productive after dinner and in the wee hours of the night.

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William Deverell

deverell-croppedInterviewed by Alex Niro

William Deverell is a Dashiell Hammett Prize and Arthur Ellis award-winning crime author who has used half a lifetime of experience practicing criminal law and his dabbling in environmental activism – as well as politics – to create some of the most engrossing crime fiction there is. He is the author of the popular Arthur Beauchamp series and is lauded as the best-known crime writer in Canada. Bill’s bond with his characters and his life experience make for particularly satisfying reading. Bill has also created the long-running CBC TV series “Street Legal” and other screenplays, and holds an honorary D.Litt from Simon Fraser University.

Bill was gracious enough to answer some of my questions via email in between a busy schedule.

What was your experience starting out with novel writing? Were there any obstacles that you feel are noteworthy?

I had a full-on midlife crisis at 40, decided to take a leave from my criminal law practice and follow a dream long held. I disappeared from my Vancouver home into a not-quite-completed cottage on the Gulf Islands, battled several months of block (while my father, a cynical left-wing journalist whose own literary attempts ended in failure, was suffering his own battles with lung cancer), and finally decided to eschew efforts to write according to the strict canons of CanLit, and pounded out a thriller called Needles. My father’s tragic death that year, 1979, ironically freed me to write in a genre he often declaimed against. (But I know in my heart he would have been proud, for, ironically, Needles won a literary prize, the Seal First Novel Award, and $50,000.)

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Ian Williams

ian-williams-author-photo_0Interviewed by Jennifer Spruit

Ian Williams is the author of Personals, shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything, winner of the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. He was named as one of ten Canadian writers to watch by CBC.

Not only does Ian write short stories packed with the power of precision and disarming poetry that holds our very us-ness up to the glare as it is refracted back, he’s also working on a novel I’m eagerly anticipating.

I’ve been an admirer of Ian’s writing for some time, and have especially enjoyed his blog, on which I found out he’s a man who prefers a well-dressed serif font. Ian was kind enough to chat with me via email.

Your short story collection, Not Anyone’s Anything, includes simultaneous narrators, flashcards, and a story with a basement. How do you, as a writer, balance reader experience and expectations for how to approach a text with a desire to create something original?

Each story needs a feature that’s formally interesting. If I wrote “While” and “Not Anyone’s Anything” and “Break-In” with the good manners of Dickens, say, then they would be frustrated stories in hand-me-downs. Formal play doesn’t have to be spatial or wild but it should be jagged enough to snag the reader away from all of the smooth prose of emails, advertising, and websites. While writing Not Anyone’s Anything, I kept asking myself, Why must this be a story and not a film or a song or a cake? And the answer led to all sorts of textual exploitations: because your attention cannot be on you and the one you love without one of you disappearing, because there are other literacies apart from English, because people who live in basements are often footnoted.

Trying to be original is like trying to be cool.

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