Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Joan Levy Earle

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Ten Questions with Joan Levy Earle

Open Book talks to Joan Levy Earle about her reading, writing and about her latest book, Train Ride to Destiny (General Store Publishing House). She will be reading at 1:00 p.m. on September 12th and 13th at The Gallery Wall (2892 Bloor Street West) as part of the Taste of the Kingsway Festival.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book.

Joan Levy Earle:

My new book, which is my ninth, is called Train Ride to Destiny and is the sequel to my earlier work, Jack’s Farm, which was published by Creative Bound Inc. in 2006. Train Ride to Destiny tells the story of my survival on a farm without amenities and the struggles of widowhood. It is an uplifting account of how faith and friends provided the support needed and then finishes with the story of the surprise reunion with an old friend, who was a train conductor, and how that romance blossomed.

OBT:

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

JLE:

This book would be of special interest to widowed people and others surviving a loss. It tells many incidents of how faith and providence intervened to help get through the difficulties of life with power and water.

It would also appeal to a general audience of non-fiction lovers because reality can often be a very interesting read.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

JLE:

I like to write early in the morning, with silence all around me, often beginning about 5 a.m.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

JLE:

My first book was a volume of poetry, self-published in 1977 called Welcome to My World. I was particularly thrilled when a library wholesaler purchased 20 copies of it and for several years it was my only ‘hit’ for the Public Lending Right payment.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

JLE:

I have been attending Soulpepper Theatre productions since moving to Toronto and find their work stimulating and inspiring, especially the acting of Albert Schultz.

OBT:

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

JLE:

A history of the men of the St. Lawrence River called The Rivermen, published in 2008 and written by Roy Lefebvre and Norm Seymour. I would also recommend to a newcomer the book about the St. Lawrence Seaway called Voices from the Lost Villages by Rosemary Rutley. My Favorite American by Dennis McCloskey is an inspiring tale of a young woman who battled so many obstacles, never giving in or giving up. It would inspire anyone who was facing any of life’s challenges, and certainly a newcomer to Canada would find it an excellent read.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

JLE:

I have two books on the go – Diane Schoemperlen’s book At a Loss for Words, which I have found not as enjoyable to me as her earlier work, Our Lady of the Lost and Found. I am also reading the history of Opus Dei by John Allen, which is part of my research for a new manuscript.

OBT:

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

JLE:

Wallace Havelock Robb, who called himself The Abbe of Abbey Dawn, was my mentor for sixteen years and he taught me to let the creative juices flow, write it all down and then use the skills you have to go over your work and make it the best you can. Especially with poetry which is often emotionally inspired but not perfected; create and then craft the piece and do not be easily satisfied with the results.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

JLE:

Never give up, but also, if you can find some publisher interested in a co-op deal, take it if you have a market for your work. These are not easy times and if you do not have an agent, you have to work at finding the market for your manuscript. And I repeat, never give up.

OBT:

What is your next project?

JLE:

I have a manuscript, almost completed about finding faith in the middle years of life, and autobiographical experiences of how God changed my life. But my pet project that I am now researching through the Queen’s University Archives, is the biography of Wallace Havelock Robb, which I promised him I would write. As a sixteen year old fan, I told Mr. Robb that someday I would tell the world about him and his writing. Fifty years later, I am planning to fulfill that promise.


Joan Levy Earle is an author and artist. Her latest book, Train Ride to Destiny (General Store Publishing House), was written as a follow-up to Jack's Farm, in response to many requests that the "rest of the story" be told. Jack's Farm was the most poignant of Joan's eight other books; it is a personal memoir of life on a country property without amenities. It was published in 2006 by Creative Bound Inc. Joan is presently employed as associate editor of the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart magazine. She also writes a weekly column called "Hopelines" for the Standard-Freeholder newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario.

For more information about Train Ride to Destiny please visit the General Store Publishing House Website.


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

2 comments

GSPH requires a $200 evaluation fee of material prior to it's acceptance into the editorial process. It is completed by one of the senior editors, who will offer guidance to the author so that they can make the manuscript more polished before it's submission, and hopefully more likely to be accepted.

I clicked on the publisher, because I'm always curious to see what kind of submission criteria publishers have in regards to their authors. General Store Publishing House wants a SASE entry, like many publishers, but they also want you to send $200. I wonder, what is that for? I've never seen that sort of request before with a small press.

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