Hiromi Goto

HGotoInterviewed by Haley Whishaw

Hiromi Goto is an award-winning Japanese-Canadian author whose novels include Chorus of Mushrooms, which received the 1995 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book in the Canada/Caribbean region; The Kappa Child, which received the James Tiptree Memorial Award; and Hopeful Monsters, a collection of short stories. She has written two Young Adult novels: Half World, which received the 2010 Sunburst Award and the Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award,and Darkest Light. She has also published the children’s book The Water of Possibility and a long poem, Wait Until Late-Afternoon, which was co-written with David Bateman.

Her work often straddles both reality and fantasy, weaving folklore with contemporary settings and issues. In keeping with this style, she suggested our interview mirror the Voight-Kampff tests that are employed in the film Blade Runner for detecting AI. There were no AI “retired” during the process of this interview.

After reading countless works of others, at what point did you realize that you yourself had a story to tell and that you were the only one who could tell it?

I was eight or nine or ten. I read the kind of book that makes you forget everyone else in the world, even yourself—you only feel the hopes and fears and despair of the character you’ve been living with for the past five hours. When I finished reading that book I came to the realization that the rich, saturated, intensely real life I had vicariously lived was one that was constructed out of words. Marks on paper. Written by a person. That was when I first felt the desire to write. My child self didn’t feel I had a specific story to tell—I only felt a strong desire to be able to make someone else feel the many intense feelings that I felt upon reading that book. I don’t remember the title of the book. It’s lost somewhere in the grey folds/ers of my soft drive…. [Read more…]

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Lee Henderson

Lee HendersonInterview by Anita Bedell

Lee Henderson is a Canadian writer and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He has published two award-winning books with Penguin Canada — the short story collection The Broken Record Technique and the novel The Man Game, which won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the BC Book Prize and the Vancouver Book Prize in 2009. Lee’s fiction and art writing is regularly published in The Walrus and Border Crossings magazine; other short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. He has curated exhibitions of contemporary art and experimental music.

Prior to moving to Victoria, Lee taught Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I was fortunate to have Lee as my fiction teacher at UBC during my first year there. His feedback was always insightful and I especially liked the cartoons he drew on my stories—I’ve kept them all.

I welcomed the opportunity to reconnect with one of my favourite teachers for this interview.

When you were little, did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I loved making up stories, for sure, but for most of my childhood and adolescence I wanted to be a cartoonist. [Read more…]