Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions, with Farzana Doctor

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August 31, 2011 -

Open Book:

Tell us about your latest book, Six Metres of Pavement.

Farzana Doctor:

Six Metres of Pavement is a story about Ismail Boxwala, a middle-aged South Asian man who made the worst mistake of his life 20 years ago — he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car one summer morning.

More than just about tragedy, this is a story of Ismail’s survival — how he manages to go on living after his mistake. Ultimately, his redemption comes through the relationships he builds with Celia — his widowed Portuguese-Canadian neighbor (who lives six metres away), and Fatima — a queer youth whose been kicked out of her home and who needs his help.

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

FD:

Stealing Nasreen was published by Inanna Publications. It’s a doomed love triangle, of sorts, involving a new immigrant couple from Mumbai and an Indo-Canadian lesbian.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

FD:

I often think back to a lecture given by Wayson Choy at Harbourfront a couple of years ago. He spoke about feeling unsure of his abilities, even after completing three very successful books. It hit me that this feeling is a universal one, and that I have to write even when I feel like I’m not good at it.

OB:

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

FD:

Just three? OK here goes:
What We All Long For, by Dionne Brand
The Jade Peony, by Wayson Choy
Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

FD:

A drab motel room with a view of a highway.

OB:

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

FD:

There are hundreds!

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman, has been waiting patiently on my bookshelf. I plan to read it soon and will blog about it.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

FD:

I just finished reading, The Divinity Gene, by Matthew J. Trafford. It’s a beautifully written, quirky collection of short stories. Each story has a twist that somehow convinced me that really weird things just might be possible.

OB:

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

FD:

I try to avoid thinking about audience when I’m writing early drafts. Later, when revising, I consider the various communities I belong to, and hope they’ll approve!

OB:

What are you working on right now?

FD:

I’m working on a third novel. I’m about two-thirds of the way through a first draft. It’s inspired by my love-hate relationship with all-inclusive resorts and monogamy.

OB:

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

FD:

Yes! Edit, edit, edit. Get feedback. Edit more. I’ll be writing a blog post with more advice in the second or third week of September.

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