Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Anne Hines

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Anne Hines has been called “Canada’s answer to Erma Bombeck.” A former humour/lifestyle columnist for Canadian Living magazine and longtime contributing editor for Chatelaine, her humorous articles on everyday life have appeared in more than twenty publications, including Readers Digest and Today’s Parent. Anne is the author of three novels, Fishing Up the Moon (Pedlar Press, 1998), The Spiral Garden (McArthur & Co, 2005) and Come Away: song of songs (McArthur & Co., 2007) and one collection of nonfiction humour, A Year In HineSight (McArthur & Co, 2002). A series of essays, Parting Gifts: notes on loss, love and life is due for publication by McArthur & Co, fall 2008. Anne is enrolled in a Masters of Divinity program at the University of Toronto and hopes to enter ordered ministry in the United Church of Canada. She states her current goal as, to try to graduate while there is still religion. Anne lives in Toronto. Her website is

Ten Questions With Anne Hines


What was your first publication and where was it published?


My first publication was a novel, Fishing Up The Moon published by Pedlar Press, Toronto in 1998.


Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.


Oh dear. Now I wish I hadn’t frittered away the last few years writing books not based on recent Canadian cultural experiences. I can say that the multi-religious make-up of Canada and particularly of Toronto where I live has a great effect on my writing, particularly as my interest is in theology and all things spiritual. The inroads we’re making into interfaith relations/understanding certainly influence me greatly. The pursuit of tolerance is, to my mind, a hallmark of Canadian culture. So maybe that counts.

Come Away: song of songs

By Anne Hines

Nestled between two of the most formidable voices of the Old Testament Bible, Ecclesiastes, which does not love women and Isaiah, which loves them less, is one short book which has disturbed clergy and baffled religious scholars for over two thousand years. The Song of Solomon, also called The Song of Songs is an erotic love poem. Probably written by a woman, it doesn't contain any mention of God.

So what is it doing there?

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Accept No Substitutes

As I take off the WiR tiara, stash the sash and leave the supermarkets openings and reality show appearances to Miss January, I want to use this final post for some parting thoughts about writing, reading and life. Because these and everything we do are all about one thing, I think. One thing only.

The Buddhists say that all human beings want and need the same thing, we are just going about it in different ways. The more I write and read and live the more I am convinced that there is one reason alone that we exist, one common goal and challenge that all people share. The reason we exist is to learn how to love. We are learning how to love ourselves.

Starts and Stops ( In which popping the cork leads me to reflect on kicking the can)

We’re counting down the days until New Year’s Eve. Soon the whole world will be celebrating, making merry and dancing in the streets. It’s a scene that naturally leads one to think about death.

Not everyone thinks about death on New Year’s Eve. Many think about it the next morning. I myself am past the age of staying out too late and drinking more than is good for me. In fact when the big moment comes at midnight, my kids think it’s a celebration of seeing Mom awake past 10 p.m.

My partner and I haven’t decided how we’ll welcome in the new year. Many people like to celebrate with family. Often it helps if the family is not your own. I know families who fight constantly about when they’re going to get together to share how much they love each other.

Talking About least I think we were...

So, I did not have a head cold. I have Norwalk flu. Norwalk flu is far worse than a head cold. You can tell this because it is important enough to have an actual name

For a head cold to be in any kind of contention for Horrible Things That Can Get Into Your Body (and then which try to get out through every possible orifice- more on that later- you’ve been warned) it would have to be called Vile North Toronto Snuffly Syndrome or something like that.

A key to the name is that it identifies the place where the horrible thing originated, so we know who to blame. Norwalk flu obviously comes from Norwalk. I have no idea where that is but they have something to answer for let me tell you.

Notes on Truth, Life and Headcolds

I ab vry vry sig. I ab a tuffy nose nd runny eyes nd a vry vry sr trout. Nobdy id de whole wrld has eber bin as sig as me. Nut eber.

Habing said thad, I continue to fuffill my duty as Miss December WIR because I ab jus thad kind of trouper ad also when I lie down I feel I ab going to die so I might as well sit up. Kind ub sit up. I ab tilting a bid to one side at present.

Shedding Light on The Meaning of Christmas

Today is the winter solstice, a time of rejoicing for Druids, witches and others of faiths that celebrate the natural world. In fact, every religion has a festival at this time of year and each of these is in some way related to the return of light to the earth.

On hilltops in Mexico, bonfires will light up the night. In ancient times, all the fires of the village would be put out and then relit from this one flame. In Italy, an entire hillside is set on fire and people come from miles around to sing and pray as the dry grasses crackle and spark. Here in North America we decorate our houses with lights that splash stained glass colours across new snow, making the darkness a little more bright.

Writing A01, installment 4: Bad Dates and Great Writing

This is the final installment in Writing AO1. Unless I do another.

I have an assignment for you.

To begin, close your eyes.

Wait! Wait! Don’t close your eyes! This is an on-line assignment. Open your eyes!

Damn it. Those of you who closed them are now doomed to sit like that forever unless someone wanders into the room and asks, “You’re not doing some stupid on-line assignment where the first instruction is to close your eyes, are you?” and how often does that happen?

For those of you not sitting shut-eyed in front of your computer screen, just pretend your eyes are closed. No, I have no idea how to do that either. OK, forget about eye position and try to imagine this.

Writing AO1, installment #3: Editors and Other Goddesses

Warning: In this installment I will dis George Elliot. I know, blasphemy, blasphemy. Which is always fun, right?

Middlemarch, by George Elliott, is a sweeping epic novel (as opposed to those tight, brief little epic novels I guess…hmmm) largely having to the do with the life and loves of Dorothea, a wealthy, educated, thoroughly good and beautiful young woman. She is also serious. Very serious. All of George Elliott’s heroes and heroines are serious. Dorothea makes the others look like Britney Spears.

Writing AO1, installment #2: Size Totally Matters.

We begin today with a disclaimer. There is no one way to write let alone to write well. I have known excellent writers who had to have every chapter and paragraph of a book planned out in advance before they wrote a word of it. Others, like myself, simply sit down, put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and see what happens.

Writing AO1, installment #2: Size Totally Matters

We begin today with a disclaimer. There is no one way to write let alone to write well. I have known excellent writers who had to have every chapter and paragraph of a book planned out in advance before they wrote a word of it. Others, like myself, simply sit down, put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and see what happens.

Writing A01

Now, gentle readers we take a brief sojourn from our contemplation of inspirational quotes on the art of writing. We’re gonna do something else instead. In the next few blogs I will share helpful hints on the topic of Everything I Know About How To Write. Obviously, this will be a very short series.
I don't claim to be an expert on how to write, but over the past decade plus that I've been writing full-time, I have certainly learned a thing or two. Which, for twelve or so years of constant study is not too bad.
Please keep in mind that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the management. Heck, they may not even be my own in another half hour. You just never know.
Helpful Hint #1: “You are what you read.”

In Which I Explain The Meaning of Life... where else can you find that on a free web site?

Greetings again from this month’s Writer in Residence, which is kind of like getting to be Miss December without having to take any clothes off.

Today’s “inspirational quote about writing” is from C.S. Lewis who, as everyone knows, wrote the wonderful Narnia series of fantasy books for children but who also wrote even better books on theology for grown-ups. Fewer lions and snow queens- more indepth analysis of that tricky God notion.

Lewis has this to say about writing,

“We are what we believe we are.”

All those of you who are now gingerly raising a hand and saying, “But Ms. Hines, this quote does not appear to have anything to do with writing.” get ten points and the beautiful Frigidaire freezer. At first glance, it doesn’t. But this is what I think.

Writing The World Sane

Our second inspirational quote on writing comes from James Fitzjames Stephen who was known to say, “It’s not my fault. My mother named me that.”

OK, maybe he didn’t say that, but who would have blamed him?

What he did say was this, “Originality does not consist of saying what no one has ever said before but in saying exactly what you think yourself.” Darn, I wish I’d thought of that first.

Not Yet Ready For A Giller

It’s a little cowing to be taking over as writer-in-residence from a predecessor who has won all kinds of writing awards. There ought to be an award for Writer Who Toils Without Recognition. Except that, of course, anyone who won such an award would automatically be disqualified from actually receiving it. Maybe we could get around this to some extent by not having an award ceremony but simply shipping the plaque or bowl or whatever to the winning author in a brown paper wrapper marked “Occupant.” Or, better still, with someone else’s name on it altogether.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.