Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions With Lynn Coady

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Lynn

October 31, 2007 -

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

LC:

I wrote a poem about the space shuttle Challenger exploding when I was in high school, and my English teacher sent it to a publication of Cape Breton literary writing called ‘Windrow Anthology’. I think I was about 15 or 16, and quite thrilled. In later years, of course, I was quite embarrassed by it. But I’m pretty embarrassed by every poem I’ve ever written.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

LC:

I think EM Forster said that every novelist secretly wishes he or she was a musician, and that is the case with me. I’m very inspired by and envious of a great many people in the independent Canadian music scene these days. Lately I’m fixated on some of our most gifted songwriters. People like John K Sampson and Christine Fellows and Joel Plaskett. It’s a literary art form and I think our best practitioners don’t really get their due.

OB:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

LC:

David Adams Richards, Nights Below Station Street
Lisa Moore’s Alligator
Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

LC:

AL Kennedy’s. I saw a photo of it recently in the Guardian. It’s a beautiful, completely empty room (no shelves, nothing on the walls) except for a single ergonomic chair and a lamp. Outside of the room, I would need a personal chef, and someone to keep my cat entertained.

OB:

William Faulkner was once asked what book he wished he had written; he chose Moby Dick (with Winnie the Pooh as a close second). Is there a book that you wish you had written?

LC:

Yep. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.

OB:

Is there a book that you think you should have read by now but haven’t?

LC:

Yep. Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. I’ve had it on my shelf for years. My friends tell me the trick is to skip the first chapter, but that seems a bit disrespectful.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

LC:

The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen

OB:

Do you have a specific readership in mind when you write?

LC:

No--every book starts out as a conversation with myself.

OB:

What are you working on right now?

LC:

A three volume work called A Conversation With Myself. Just kidding. Really, a novel about a futuristic adoption agency.

OB:

Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?

LC:

Yes: concentrate on becoming a really fine writer before you start concentrating on getting published. I recently did a writers-in-conversation event where there was a man in the audience who kept insisting myself and the other author must have met someone, somewhere along the lines, who was high-up in publishing and gave us our ‘big break.’ That decisive moment he was imagining, where we just happened to be in the right place at the right time? It never occurred. We both simply worked very very hard at writing, and very, very gradually managed to get our work into print and appreciated. So it may, eventually, come down to ‘who you know’, but you only come to know those people by producing the best possible work you are capable of. You can be best friends with Margaret Atwood, but it won’t get you published unless you’ve put absolutely everything you have into the writing.

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