Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions With Anne Hines

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Anne

November 29, 2007 -

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

AH:

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

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

AH:

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.

OB:

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

AH:

First, either Small Arguments by Souvankham Thammavonga or Stormy Weather: Foursomes by Stan Dragland (both Pedlar Press). Poetry is one of the things we do really well in Canada and we should be proud of how very fine poetry we’re publishing these days. Next, any of the Massey Lectures Series (Anansi), particularly the lectures by John Rolston Saul and Jean Vanier’s, Becoming Human. These are treasures of Canadian thought and philosophy. Lastly, I would give the two most recent TO series books (Coach House Press). uTOopia is a collection of essays on what makes and will keep Toronto great and GreenTOpia is articles on the city and environmental issues. The ideas discussed in these books go far beyond what’s important to Toronto. They’re an thought-provoking read for anyone interested in the future of our country.

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

AH:

Thanks for asking this question because it made me realize that I actually love my little home workroom. It has a window that looks out on a sweeping Japanese cherry tree. In spring the boughs are decked out in bridal white blossoms, then glistening green buds. In the fall, the sun flashes off the leaves as if they’re gilded in gold and today the limbs of the tree are frosted with silver snow. It’s one of the great pleasures of life to watch the seasons change outside my window as I work. Over my writing desk, I have a poster of Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Each sunflower in the painting is broken, which reminds me daily that no creative undertaking (including life itself) is ever perfect, but with great care and dedication it can still be rather beautiful.

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?

AH:

Pride and Prejudice. No question. Coming in second would be Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson if only for where he says, “The sun also shines today also. There is more wool and flax in the field. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.” As someone who toils in the trenches of liberal feminist theology, this sounds really good to me.

OB:

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

AH:

I bought The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire years ago but can’t manage to get very far into it which pains me greatly a) because I’d love to be able to say to people, “What, you haven’t read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire?” and b) because I have this idea that all wisdom on how to manage civilization is contained therein and I should know it. I should also include Angela’s Ashes so that people will stop saying to me, “You mean you haven’t read Angela’s Ashes?”

OB:

What are you reading right now?

AH:

I’m taking a Masters of Divinity, so mostly I only get to read schoolbooks. However, I did recently finish Sad, Mad and Bad: Women and the Mind Doctors From 1800 (McArthur & Co., 2007) which is a fascinating study of the last two hundred years of mental health treatment for women.

OB:

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

AH:

A book reviewer once said that I write for “the best reader” which may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me — ever. I love to learn and to think and I write for people who also like those things and who are happy to end a book knowing a little more, hopefully about theology and religion in particular, than they did when they started out.

OB:

What are you working on right now?

AH:

I’m writing a nonfiction book titled Parting Gifts: Notes on loss, love and life. It’s about experiences of loss in my life and the life lessons that have come as a result of them. It is, I hope, amusing and thoughtful. It’s due out next fall from McArthur & Co.

OB:

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

AH:

Instead of sending to the biggest publisher, take a good look at the kind of book different publishers are producing, see what their language is, the sort of books they seem to understand and get behind. That will tell you who is most likely to understand the book you’ve written. The big houses have more money but, in my experience, you can’t do better than the personal care, attention and commitment you get from a smaller publisher.

Getting published doesn’t make you a writer. Writing does. If you write and don’t get published you’ve still had the learning and thinking and growing that comes with doing the thing. And that’s the greatest gift of writing.

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