Eden Robinson

Eden RobinsonEden Robinson

Interviewed by Stephanie Chou

Eden Robinson is an internationally acclaimed author from Kitimat Village, BC. She is a member of the Haisla and Heilstuk First Nations. Her debut book, Traplines, a collection of four short stories, was a New York Times Notable Book and won Britain’s Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Her first novel, Monkey Beach was nominated for the Giller Prize, the 2000 Governor General’s Award for Fiction and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. The novel was also selected as a Globe and Mail Editor’s Choice. It was the first English-language book to be published by a Haisla writer. Her most recent novel is Blood Sports, and her extended essay Sasquatch at Home, first delivered as a talk at the 4th annual Henry Kreisel Lecture, explores modern storytelling through a blend of personal anecdotes and the intricacies of cultural protocol.

Eden Robinson has the most contagious laugh on this side of the globe. She shares a birthday with Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly Parton and is certain this affects her writing in some way. Combine these sensibilities with her early influences of Stephen King and David Cronenberg, and it’s natural that Eden’s writing is at once humorous and dark. As a long-time admirer of Eden’s work it was my absolute pleasure to interview her via email.

Eden received her MFA from UBC’s Creative Writing Program and is the program’s Virtual Writer-in-Residence for the Fall 2014 term.

What moves you to write? You’ve said that your characters have “sprung from your muse.” Can you explain that compulsion? 

People are intricate puzzles, and I find myself wondering how their minds work, and then try to put myself in their boots and then see where the story goes. For instance, I was listening to NPR and the Unibomber’s brother was being interviewed. He spoke very movingly of the moment when he realized his brother might be a murderer and the emotions he went through and what he knew it would do to their family, to his brother, to himself. I was haunted by him, and that’s where my muse steps in, that’s when he whispers in my ear. The resulting story was “Dogs in Winter,” whose title comes from the opening scenes of The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover. How the two things became joined in my mind is one of those quirks that I find hard to explain. [Read more…]

Miriam Toews

Miriam ToewsInterviewed by Sarah Ens

Miriam Toews is the author of five bestselling and critically-acclaimed novels and one work of non-fiction. Her novel A Complicated Kindness was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Kindness was also the winner of the 2006 Canada Reads, making Miriam the first female writer to win the competition. Her fourth novel, The Flying Troutmans, was the winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Miriam has received the Writers Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award for her body of work, was admitted to the Order of Manitoba, and nominated for Best Actress at the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences’ Ariel Awards for her performance in Carlos Reygadas’ film Silent Light.

A long-time admirer of her work, I was thrilled to chat with Miriam via email about her journey as an author and the haunting yet hilarious characters she brings to life, from Summer of My Amazing Luck’s single mom living on welfare in Winnipeg to Irma Voth’s young Mexican Mennonite woman breaking free from her abusive past. Her highly-anticipated new novel is All My Puny Sorrows.

What was your experience publishing Summer Of My Amazing Luck? What were some of the obstacles you faced as a new novelist and how did you overcome them?

Getting my first book published was incredible. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was absolutely thrilled. Turnstone Press, in Winnipeg, took a chance on me and I’m forever grateful to them. I’m not sure there were any special obstacles I faced other than the on-going pressure to make a living and still find time to write.

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Matt Rader

RaderInterviewed by Christopher Evans

Matt Rader has authored three books of poems:  Miraculous Hours, Living Things, and, most recently, A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in The Walrus, All Hollow, The Fiddlehead, Geist, and many other publications spanning the globe; his work has been nominated for the Journey prize, a National Magazine Award, and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, among others. Rader has studied writing at the University of Victoria, the University of Oregon, and the Banff Centre Writing Studio, and has taught at the University of Oregon, Okanagan College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and North Island College on Vancouver Island. His first book of short stories, What I Want to Say Goes Like This, will be published by Nightwood Editions in Fall, 2014.

A wise friend turned me on to Rader’s work; A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno became the first book of poetry I ever purchased and revealed to me a secret history of the West Coast, half-concealed under a tangle of weeds. I caught up with Rader via email at his home in Cumberland, BC.

What does an ideal working day look like for Matt Rader?

Though this never happens, my ideal workday begins after a long sleep. It involves a cup of coffee in the morning, swimming, sunshine, fresh fruits and vegetables, various other things that we don’t talk about in interviews like this, and so on. My ideal workday involves almost no work.

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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.)

[Read more…]