Interviewed by Emily Swan
Linda Svendsen is an acclaimed Vancouver writer, leaving her mark on both fiction and television. Her story collection, Marine Life, was published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (U.S.), HarperCollinsCanada, and Residenz Verlag (as Happy Hour) in Germany. The stories appeared in the Atlantic, Saturday Night, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best Canadian Stories, literary magazines in the U.S. and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Marine Life was nominated for the LA Times First Book Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and produced as a Canadian feature film.
After her children arrived, Linda focused on television for almost two decades. With her husband, Brian McKeown, she co-produced and co-wrote the miniseries, Human Cargo, which garnered seven Gemini Awards, including Best Movie or Miniseries, Best Screenplay, and a George Foster Peabody Award. Other long-form writing credits include Murder Unveiled (with Brian McKeown), At The End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story, and The Diviners, adapted from the Margaret Laurence novel. She has written episodes for Airwaves and These Arms of Mine. In 2006, she received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.
Sussex Drive (Random House Canada, 2012), a satire exploring what happens when a Conservative Prime Minister’s wife and a leftish Governor General can no longer play “Follow the Leader,” is Linda’s most recent publication. It’s a novel.
Linda has been a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program at UBC since 1989. In her twenty-five years with the department, she has helped and inspired all manner of students looking to hone their own crafts. Having been inspired by Linda myself, I reached out to her over email to learn more about her journey with writing.
How were you originally drawn to a career in writing? I know (from extensive, online stalking) that you attended classes in creative writing while pursuing your BFA in English. Was this what first attracted you to the field?
In Grade 2 and 3, I became hungry to read and write. I was an only child and on Saturdays my father would have visitation rights for the day and he took me to bookstores and he bought me as many books as I wanted. I started a sequel to Tom Sawyer. I wrote the start of a Bobbsey Twins mystery…and I wrote through high school and have never looked back. I lie. Except for a few detours into acting, anthropology, and codependency, all of which became grist for the mill. [Read more…]