Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Tish Cohen

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Tish Cohen

Tish Cohen's Town House was a bestseller and landed on the shortlist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She's also written for young adults, and this season she returns with The Search Angel (HarperCollins Canada). The Search Angel tells the story of Eleanor Sweet, whose cheerful name and job (as the proprietor of the Pretty Baby children's boutique) belie a complicated life.

Eleanor is surrounded by expectant mothers but longs for a child of her own. When the chance to adopt a child in need arises, not only do things get complicated with Eleanor's husband, but with Eleanor's feelings about her own identity as an adopted child. Is now the right time to seek out the birth mother she never met? This is the question that leads her to Isabelle, the titular Search Angel.

Today Tish speaks to Open Book as part of our Dirty Dozen series, which invites authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Tish tells us about misadventures with the accordion, a drink that would leave most people starstruck and even shares a (sparkling) thirteenth bonus fact.

  1. When I was born, my parents named me Patricia, nicknamed me Tish, then proceeded to call me Monie for seven years. In second grade I came home and asked why do they call me Tish at school and could we please just settle on one name?
  2. I can wiggle my ears.
  3. When I was ten I asked my parents for piano lessons. They enrolled me in accordion lessons instead. I attended faithfully until one rainy Saturday when my parents forgot to pick me up after class. I started to walk home with my enormous rented accordion case and a man in a white van stopped and offered me a ride. I took it and lived.
  4. I can find a four-leaf clover in any clover patch. Once I found a five leafer.
  5. When I was seventeen, Gene Kelly made me a screwdriver. And when I came over the next time, he remembered I liked the drink and made me another. I was friends with his son.
  6. I used to be Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath’s house painter.
  7. I love the sound of cicadas.
  8. My uncle Paul Sills co-founded Second City.
  9. The band Toto cleaned my Los Angeles kitchen and loaded the dishwasher so they could make popcorn. Actually, they did a nice job.
  10. I love the smell of boat gasoline, wet paint and leather saddles.
  11. I’ve ridden horses since I was a child.
  12. I love a monastic colour scheme. White. Black. Wood. I find the bare simplicity peaceful and calming. When I do indulge in colour, it’s usually limited to a quilt or sofa cushion. Art is a different story. Art can be whatever it wants.
  13. Whenever I see the sun’s reflection on a lake, the sparkles make me feel everything I want to achieve is possible.


Tish Cohen is the author of Inside Out Girl, a Globe and Mail bestseller, and Town House, a regional finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Town House is currently in development as a feature film with Fox 2000, with Ridley Scott as producer. Cohen has also written three novels for younger readers — The Invisible Rules of the Zoë Lama and The One and Only Zoë Lama, for middle-grade readers; and, most recently, Little Black Lies, for teen readers. Cohen has contributed articles to some of Canada’s largest newspapers, including The Globe and Mail and the National Post. She currently lives in Toronto. You can visit her online at http://www.tishcohen.com.

For more information about The Search Angel please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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