Interview by Rachel Jansen
Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist whose books on First Nations people have been internationally acclaimed. His first novel, Three Day Road, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award. Through Black Spruce, published in 2008, received the ScotiaBank Giller Prize. Most recently, Boyden published The Orenda; a thrilling epic that weaves together the lives of a Jesuit missionary, a captured Iroquois girl, and her captor, a great Huron Chief, in an unforgettable story of our past. On March 4th, The Orenda was announced the winner of CBC’s 2014 Canada Reads competition.
Boyden was born in Willowdale, Ontario. He completed his BFA in creative writing at York University, and then went on to earn his masters at the University of New Orleans. He currently splits his time between Louisiana and Northern Ontario, and teaches in the Optional Residency Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of British Columbia.
With his long list of credentials, and my deep admiration of his work, my hand shook as I dialed his number to conduct our interview over the phone. I soon found my anxiety dissipating; Boyden is humble, soft-spoken and quick-to-laugh.
What was your first publication?
I published a collection of poems in my undergrad. At the time there was something called Proem and they took a liking to a lot of the poetry that I was writing, the first time I tried to send out my work.