Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Anne Gray

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Ten Questions with Anne Gray

Anne Gray writes in several genres for both adults and children, but has a particular love for writing young adult fantasy. Her latest young adult novel, Healer's Touch (Sumach Press, 2008), is the sequel to Rites of the
Healer
(Sumach Press, 2006).

OB:

Tell us about your latest book Healer’s Touch.

AG:

Healer’s Touch is a sequel to Rites of the Healer. In that book, the main character, Dovella undertook a dangerous journey to save her village, during which she had to acknowledge that much of what she had been taught was false, especially about magic. But learning the truth about something doesn’t mean it will be easy to accept emotionally. Although Dovella grows and changes during her journey, she is still uneasy about a number of things that she has discovered.

In Healer’s Touch, she makes another journey during which she faces a number of new dangers and challenges, and eventually has to use her knowledge of magic or be defeated by a sorcerer who threatens her people. Now she has accepted that magic exists but is still uneasy with the fact that she has a power that she has always thought was evil. This is one of the many issues she has to come to terms with.

Apart from Dovella, there are three other point of view characters who also have to make choices that will define who they are.

If I had to summarize the book, I’d say it’s about choices: accepting responsibility for the ones already made and facing the challenge of making new choices.

OB:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

AG:

Not really. Since it is marketed as a Young Adult novel, I had to keep that in mind, of course, but I hope anyone will be able to enjoy it, even those who don’t normally read fantasy.

OB:

How did you research your book?

AG:

I read a lot, as most writers do, and in particular I read a lot of fantasy. You get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. But since I make up my own world and characters, there isn’t the same need for research, or at least not the same kind of research, that there would be in, say, an historical novel. It’s more a matter of making sure the world is complete and consistent.

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

AG:

Mainly that it is quiet, except for some music. And that I have my computer at hand, though pen and paper will do if I’m away. A cup of coffee is always nice. Otherwise, anytime I don’t have something else pressing that I need to do is an ideal time.

OB:

What was your first publication?

AG:

My first fiction publication was a short story, “Mrs. Danforth’s Dream”, published in the autumn, 1993 issue of green’s magazine.

OB:

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

AG:

That’s a difficult question because there is no way that only three books can show the richness of Canadian literature. I tried to narrow it down to genre or time period but it didn’t get any easier, so I decided to grab three old favourites: books I’ve read and reread and will likely read again. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is a classic, so that would have to be on the list, I think. Anything by Margaret Laurence, but I think I’d pick The Stone Angel. And Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Once you’ve read one, I think you’d want to read the others in the series.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

AG:

Right now I’m reading Spirit Gate, a fantasy novel by Kate Elliott, and also Dust by Arthur Slade

OB:

Describe the most memorable response you’ve received from a reader.

AG:

The question: “When can I get the next one?” That’s what you always want to hear, and it was especially great because it came from someone who doesn’t normally read fantasy.

OB:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

AG:

To keep writing. That is difficult when the rejection slips are piling up and you start asking yourself: “Why am I doing this?” Eventually, I think, you have to answer that question, and I believe that answer has to be that you believe in what you are doing. You just have to hope that eventually you’ll find a publisher who can appreciate your vision. I’ve been very fortunate in finding such publishers at Sumach Press.

OB:

What is your next project?

AG:

I’m working on the third book in this series. When that’s done, I have another Young Adult fantasy I want to complete as well as a new fantasy series for adults.



Read more about Healer's Touch at the Sumach Press website.

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