Angie Abdou

Interviewed by Bri Dempsey

Angie Abdou is the award-winning Canadian author of Anything Boys Can Do (2006), The Bone Cage (2007), The Canterbury Trail (2011) and Between (2014). Her first novel, The Bone Cage (2007) was a finalist on the 2011 Canada Reads competition, defended by Georges Laraque, as well as named the MacEwan Book of the Year in 2012. The Bone Cage was ranked first on CBC’s list of Top Ten Sports Books in 2010 as well as featured by Kootenay Library Foundation for the first annual “One Book, One Kootenay” celebration in 2009. The Canterbury Trail won a 2012 IPPY (Independent Publishing Award) Gold Medal for Canada West. Between received the “Best of 2014” accolades from PRISM Magazine, 49th Shelf, and The Vancouver Sun

In addition to being a novelist, Angie also frequently participates in and moderates panel discussions at writers’ festivals across the country. She regularly contributes to Quill & Quire, a leading Canadian magazine for the book industry. She taught at College of the Rockies for fifteen years before joining the faculty at Athabasca University where she is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing. She has a new novel, What Remains, out with Arsenal Pulp Press in September 2017 and is hard at work on a memoir called Hockey Mom.

When she is in between books, Angie is constantly involved in furthering the discussion in Canadian Literature. My favorite quote about her comes from Hal Wake who said, “When it comes to moderating a panel, I could take a chance on somebody new or I could fly out Angie Abdou and know it will be money well spent.” I wanted to interview her about the career she has outside of writing books because I believe they inform each other. I also believe that in the modern definition of being a writer, wearing many hats is the best way to get the most out of your career. 

You have such a diverse portfolio of work: Everything from teaching to moderating panels to reviewing books to writing and promoting your own. How do you find new challenges and where do you get your inspiration from?

I don’t think of my interests as that diverse. Most everything I do, I do for a love of books, and also for a love of the kind of people who write those books. I like being deeply immersed in a world where stories and art matter and where people are motivated by something other than the obvious financial interests that drive so many people. The typical bores me. People living un-examined lives bore me. Writers don’t tend to be typical. 

Like many writers, I write because I can’t help it. That’s the only reason to write. But over the years, the more involved I have become in the Canadian writing community, the more I have felt I’ve truly found my people. And as I immersed myself in that culture, I found I didn’t need to seek out new challenges; those challenges mostly seem to come to me. Festival hosts and editors have been very generous in reaching out to me and involving me in their projects.

I get inspiration from anyone engaging with books in new and exciting ways – whether it’s Hal Wake or Shelley Youngblut with their energetic festivals or Martha Sharpe with her curated collection of flying books or Trevor Corkum with his insightful author blog or The New Quarterly and all the other magazines putting out high quality work of new and established writers. All of that inspires me.

[Read more…]

Advertisements

Michael Booth

Interview by Aliz Tennant

Michael Booth has studied at the world’s most famous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, had his book on his family’s food-filled adventure across Japan turned into a NHK World Japanese TV animation and travelled across Scandinavia trying to find the key to their success. 

The award-winning author of five non-fictions books, Booth is also a journalist, broadcaster and speaker, writing predominantly on travel and food. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Telegraph and Condé Nast Traveller magazine among other publications. He is a correspondent for Monocle magazine and their radio station Monocle 24, reporting from Copenhagen, where he lives with his family. 

His first book Just As Well I’m Leaving provided him with an opportunity to escape Denmark, when he followed Hans Andersen’s travelogue across Europe, making his own adventures on the way. His latest book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People, sees Booth continue to explore his relationship with Denmark and the Nordic countries as he travels to each of them in the hope of understanding their secrets to success, what they think of each other and whether the lifestyles meet up to expectation.

I interviewed Booth via email to ask him to share his secrets to success when it comes to writing.

You worked in television before you began writing for magazines and going back to university to study journalism. Why choose a career in writing?

Television was absolutely awful, a toxic environment, but I stuck at it for a while because I had been brainwashed into thinking it was the job every graduate wanted. Eventually, I realised it just wasn’t ever going to lead me anywhere remotely happy-making. It was only when a friend mentioned that there existed such a thing as a post-graduate course in feature journalism, that I saw a possibility to become the kind of journalist I admired without having to work on a local newspaper reporting on overdue library book scandals and suchlike. I realised that freelance feature writing was a passport literally to the world, and would allow me to butterfly around to whatever subject interested me.

[Read more…]