Thank you to 2013 Leacock Winner Cassie Stocks for passing her baton in this “Tour de Blog”—a literary relay for Canadian writers to answer the same four questions about their writing. Links to other writers who’ve participated can be found at the bottom of my post. I now pass my baton to Calgary-based nonfiction writer and blogger, Shaun Hunter.
What am I working on?
I’m rewriting YET ANOTHER draft of my second novel—a story that follows twenty-six year old Jace Bell as she attempts to make sense of her double-life as extroverted bartender and outpatient of invasive (secret) medical procedures. The story alternates between Montreal and Cuba and involves a complex relationship with a troubled med student negotiating challenges of his own.
I’m also working on a collection of stories/essays on themes of Medicine in Literature and magazine articles that explore movement, endurance sport, brain chemistry and the body.
I recently did some blogging for Wordfest in October, Calgary’s international literary festival, and interviewed one of Australia’s biggest authors, Christos Tsiolkas, about his latest novel, Barracuda. The story follows a talented young swimmer with a working-class upbringing, cutting between the boy’s life and that of the adult man many years later, still angry at the world but more comfortable in his skin, with himself and his sexuality.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m drawn to exploring scenarios that place my characters in challenging and unusual situations that test their mettle. I love to play around with unique (and sometimes unsettling) ‘voices’ in fiction, even if my characters are not consistently likeable, or sabotage themselves along their path. Nobody is perfect. Perfect characters are boring—oh, and they don’t exist in real life anyway.
Why do I write what I do?
To echo what Cassie wrote, “I write to explore issues and characters that intrigue me in some way.” Over the past number of years I have become more and more interested in the relationships we have with our physical bodies on all levels: aesthetically, medically, athletically, sexually and so on. How we feel in our skin has great power over our choices and perceptions. The more I learn, experience, overhear and encounter only deepens my curiosity around our physical existence, medicalization, and how these shape our psychological and emotional worlds, our relationships with others, and ultimately how we decide to live our lives.
How does my writing process work?
In a PERFECT WORLD without obligations and distraction a.k.a “day pollution,” I’d write every weekday between 8am-1pm, and spend the rest of the afternoon working on my event series for the WGA, doing hot restorative yoga, running, swimming, listening to music, and fuelling my spirits with friends and my husband Dave each evening. But I have yet to achieve such a perfect balance. Realistically, my writing process is a somewhat jumbled version of the above, broken-up by responsibilities and other activities. I need a pair of pyjama pants for every day of the week, and the occasional absinthe martini and Cuban cigar don’t hurt the process either.
Ali Bryan Leanne Shirtliffe Bradley Somer Janie Chang Theodora Armstrong Kathy Page Lorna Suzuki Barbara Lambert Matilda Magtree Alice Zorn Anita Lahey Pearl Pirie Julie Paul Sarah Mian Steve McOrmond Susan Gillis Jason Heroux