M.A.C. Farrant

mac-farrantInterviewed by Michelle Kelm

M.A.C. Farrant is an award-winning Canadian author of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. She is a regular book reviewer for the Globe & Mail and the Vancouver Sun and has taught writing at the University of Victoria, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and MacQuarrie University in Australia where she was Writer-in-Residence.

Farrant has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, The Van City Book Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the National Magazine Awards, and the Gemini Awards for the Bravo short film adaptation of her story, Rob’s Guns & Ammo. Her novel, The Strange Truth About Us was a Globe & Mail Best Book for 2012. Her latest stage play is My Turquoise Years.

I have admired Farrant’s intelligent and bizarre humour for years and was delighted when she agreed to speak to me by email.

It’s clear from My Turquoise Years that your upbringing was a bit unusual. Can you describe your childhood?

My childhood was highly unusual for the times – Post-war, fifties and early sixties – when the nuclear family represented something like 92% of all Canadian families.  So to have a willingly absent mother, a visiting father from Vancouver, and to be raised by my father’s sister, her husband, and the rest of the extended family, was an anomaly, to say the least.  Feelings of being different arose, of course, but, actually, I had a great childhood filled with inventiveness, creativity, and the freedom to be who I was.  The family was very tight-knit and they pretty much thought I was wonderful even though I was a pain in the ass a lot of the time.

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Amber Dawn

Amber-DawnBy Leah Horlick

Amber Dawn came to my house for an interview one rainy February afternoon during the last term of my MFA in Vancouver. “It’s so weird to be here,” she told me. “I used to have friends who lived in this house. It was a bit more punk rock then. I even broke in through that back window one time.”

As if she wasn’t badass enough already, Amber Dawn is a writer, filmmaker, activist, and performance artist whose first novel, Sub Rosa, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2011. Her poetry chapbook How I Got My Tattoo won the Eli Coppola Chapbook Prize from RADAR Productions in 2012, when she also won the Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Writers. In her forthcoming book How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn tells her story of working in the sex trade in Vancouver through nonfiction and poetry. I spent an afternoon with Amber Dawn where she talked about her star-crossed relationship with memoir and poetry, and her commitment to community activism.

I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about writing and publishing a mixed-genre book like How Poetry Saved My Life.

Well, I first of all did not say to myself, “I want to write a mixed genre prose and poetry book” and set out to do that. If someone asked me to write out my life story, or a chunk of time where I worked in the sex trade, there’s no way I could stomach it. I also just don’t feel like my story is best told through a chronological view of time. I don’t think that most people’s lives are that tidy, and mine certainly isn’t. So I just started writing bits and pieces, mostly therapeutic to begin. Then, when I got to grad school I tried nonfiction with Andreas Schroeder for the first time. That’s when I really started to write my story, in that class. But where I did most of my writing was to submit to sex worker festivals in the United States that were. I would often write just to be able to be in those shows, I was so desperate for community. It was great to leave the city and be more anonymous. And eventually realized I had a book’s worth of writing. And even then I sat on it for a long time because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put it out in the world. So I didn’t set out to do it. If I had set out to do it I’m sure I would have failed. [laughs] [Read more…]

Stacey May Fowles

SMFowlesBy Ginny Monaco

Stacey May Fowles has published two novels, Be Good and Fear of Fighting – which was later adapted for the stage. Her third novel, Infidelity, is due from ECW later in 2013.  She is a regular contributor to the National Post and her writing has appeared in Taddle Creek, Prism, and Maisonneuve.

In July of 2012, she was accepted into the Banff Writers Centre. She had taken time off from her job as the Director of Circulation and Marketing for The Walrus and intended to write a memoir “about coming of age in serial rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo’s hometown during his crimes as the Scarborough Rapist.”

Fowles was forced to confront her own assault in ways that left her “a walking open wound, telling stories I never intended to tell.” Her National Post essay  “What can’t be published”  is a thoughtful exploration of what it means to write about assault. Like most of her work, the essay is informed by two of Fowles’ major titles: writer and woman.

I recently spoke to her about what it means to be a female writer in Canada, how she deals with rejection, and her new obsession with sports writing.

Can you give me a quick rundown of your career path as a writer? How did you come to work at The Walrus?

I always wanted to write – knew that for most of my life. I was just never sure if that meant it would be my “job,” or something I just had to make time for. Early on I was writing fiction exclusively, and it was pretty clear there wasn’t going to be a living wage in that, certainly not for a long time.  In my early twenties I was working on a novel and got a part time job with a literary journal as their circulation manager. I think initially I had hoped that it would be a door to becoming an editor, but instead I fell in love with magazine circulation and how well it compliments a writing life.  I’ve been doing it for about a decade now, and have been with The Walrus for five years. It’s really helped me fund my writing projects while remaining connected to a writing community. I’ve paralleled my work there with writing more non-fiction – book reviews, essays, and more journalism-style work. [Read more…]