Roslyn Muir

roslynInterviewed by Jackson Runkle.

Roslyn Muir is a screenwriter, novelist, story editor, and teacher. She is an MFA graduate of the UBC Creative Writing program and has a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University. She grew up enjoying science fiction and is the recipient of the prestigious Praxis screenplay award. She has recently produced a dram film, The Birdwatcher and has written two movies of the week, Anatomy of Deception and Reluctant Witness.

I wanted to interview Muir for three reasons: she has succeeded in writing screenplays in a variety of genres, she is currently developing more, and she manages to do all of this with a family while teaching aspiring screenwriters. That’s what I consider a triple threat. I was fortunate enough to sit down and interview her in person.

How did you become a screenwriter?

My background is really varied. In school I didn’t start out wanting to be a writer. I was really into theatre, and I wanted to be an actor. That’s what I did, I went to SFU and did a BFA in Theatre. I was a performer in both film and theatre. I did a bit of writing, I wrote some plays and performed in them myself. [Read more…]

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Sue Goyette

Sue-Goyette 2Interviewed by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

Sue Goyette lives in Halifax and has just published her fifth collection of poems, The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl, with Gaspereau Press. Her previous collections include The True Names of Birds, Undone, outskirts (Brick Books) and Ocean (Gaspereau Press) as well as a novel, Lures (HarperCollins, 2002).

Sue has been nominated for several awards including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Gerald Lampert, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, the Dartmouth Book Award, the Acorn-Plantos Award and, most recently, the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize. She won the 2008 CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the 2010 Earle Birney Prize, the 2011 Bliss Carman Award, the 2012 Pat Lowther Award, the 2012 Atlantic Poetry Prize, Silver in the 2013 National Magazine Awards and the 2014 Nova Scotia Booksellers Choice Award.

Her poetry has appeared on the Toronto subway system, in wedding vows and spray-painted on a sidewalk somewhere in St. John, New Brunswick. Sue currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Dalhousie University.

I read Ocean last year and loved its bold ambition, its wit and weight. Sue graciously agreed to an email interview from an unabashed fan.

When did you first begin to take yourself seriously as a poet? 

I’ve always been writing poems. When did my writing practice deepen? Probably when I started writing again in my mid-twenties. I realized then how important my encounters with poetry were. How those encounters informed and orientated my belief and ecosystem. How poetry chimed with something essential in me. How it contributed its own version of vitality to my schedule, and how I had come to rely on it to keep me awake. I was quite young when I had turned to poems, to stories but I trusted their company, their ability to help me feel connected to something bigger and more important than myself. That was key. I don’t feel like it was a choice but more of an opening, like heading in the direction that permitted me to become more me. [Read more…]

Laura McHugh

lauramchughauthInterviewed by Keyanna Burgher

Laura McHugh, with the recent publication of her debut novel The Weight of Blood, has hit the writers’ scene with a vengeance. Her short fiction has appeared in Confrontation and Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley. And although she has always loved writing, Laura instead chose a more stable career path in software development – until that came to a sudden end and she was forced to start anew. With encouragement from her husband, she began to write her first novel. Vividly set in the foreboding Ozark Mountains, The Weight of Blood explores the mysteries and secrets of small town families. It has since been nominated for a 2015 Alex Award and has been published in many languages. Laura is currently working on her next novel, Arrowood. She lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband, two daughters, and dog.

I had the pleasure of receiving Laura’s book as an impromptu gift from my roommate, which I read over the Christmas holidays in a single sitting. I was giddy with writer-crush excitement over the chance to communicate with her. We corresponded via email.

What does a day in the life of Laura McHugh look like?

I get the kids off to school by 7 a.m. (which is way too early–none of us are morning people) and once I’m feeling coherent enough, I start going through emails and social media posts. I spend part of each day fielding requests for book club visits, book donations, interviews, and speaking engagements, answering questions from aspiring writers, and responding to emails and posts from readers. Once I’ve caught up on that, I get to work writing and revising. I usually eat a quick, terrible lunch, like potato chips or cereal, because the kids are out of school by 2:30, and I have to make the most of my quiet time. After school it’s homework, kids’ activities, dinner, baths, whatever minimal housework I have to do to get by. Some nights I have book club or a book talk. If I’m working toward a deadline or trying to finish a chapter or scene, I’ll get back to work once my family has gone to bed. I do my best work when it’s quiet and no one is interrupting me, so if I’m making good progress, I sometimes stay up until three or four in the morning. [Read more…]

Missla Libsekal

(Photo Credit: Florent Meng)

(Photo Credit: Florent Meng)

Interviewed by Joy Richu

Missla Libsekal is the founder and editor of anotherafrica.net, a journal dedicated to contemporary art and design.  A young woman with a keen curiosity about the world, Missla Libeskal was born in Ethiopia, moved to Swaziland and then to Canada, after which she lived in Japan for ten years. She has since lived in New York, and is now settled back in Vancouver, Canada.

I first met Missla during one of the UBC Africa Awareness Initiative Conference Week events, where she led a discussion on art and culture, and their value within conversations about the African continent. Missla graciously agreed to chat with me via Skype! Here are the fruits of our delightful conversation.

When we met a few weeks ago, you mentioned that you began your career in writing having studied a completely different field in university. Could you share a bit about that? What was your university focus? What inspired you to become a writer, and to create an online magazine?

I studied business and management in school, and later worked as a project manager. For ten years I lived in Tokyo, where I worked in a technology company. While there, I encountered front-end designers who were working on all sorts of different concepts and visual treatments, and that was really the first window that I had into storytelling. Even though it was in a visual and interactive manner, I became really enchanted by the idea of how we tell stories.

Writing was something that happened without me willing it or desiring it per se. It was more something I did because I felt it was necessary, rather than because I wanted to be a writer. To be very honest, I’m still very challenged by the term “writer.”- I think we have very classic ideas of what a writer is! All I know is that I use words to communicate. So if we think about it in those basic terms, when you put text down, it means that you’re writing. And that’s what I do. But when you’re doing digital publishing, there are many other elements to play with. There is text, there is audio, there is the interactive aspect as well as moving images, but I see them all as the same thing.

[Read more…]

Billeh Nickerson

billeh_main_20140508Interviewed by Shannon Rayne

Billeh Nickerson is a poet, performer, editor and teacher. He is the author of four poetry collections of poetry —The Asthmatic Glassblower; McPoems; Impact: The Titanic Poems; and Artificial Cherry— and the humour collection Let Me Kiss It Better. He is also co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets. His most recent book, Artificial Cherry, was shortlisted finalist for the 2014 City of Vancouver Book Award. He is the Chair of the Creative Writing department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  www.billeh.com

You incorporate a lot of humour, sarcasm, wit and irony in your poetry – making both your poetry and your readings a joy to encounter. What are the advantages of using humour as a writing tool for you?  What does it allow you to do in your writing? 

Hmmm, that’s an interesting question as I find that humour has been beneficial to my work, but it also causes some folks to undervalue what I do. I love it when readers let their guard down after laughing. That’s the best time to pull a knife of an image or situation on them. That ability is the advantage. It can also start the conversation on taboo and political topics. [Read more…]