Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Maggie Siggins

Share |
Ten Questions with Maggie Siggins

Maggie Siggins is the author of ten books, including Riel: A Life of Revolution and the Governor General’s Award-winning Revenge of the Land. Her latest book, Marie-Anne, is published by McClelland & Stewart. Christopher Moore will interview Maggie Siggins about her new book at the U of T Bookstore Reading Series on October 20. See our events page for details.

OB:

Tell us about your latest book, Marie-Anne: The Extraordinary Life of Louis Riel’s Grandmother.

MS:

This is a biography of Marie-Anne Lagimodière, a French Canadian woman who in 1806 travelled with her fur-trapping/buffalo hunting husband to Canada’s north west. Along the way she almost starved to death while living at Fort Edmonton, gave birth prematurely after her horse went out of control and galloped after a buffalo herd, saved the lives of many Selkirk Settlers, and, after the Seven Oaks Massacre, having been rescued by Chief Pegasus, lived in a Saulteaux encampment for many months.

OB:

Why is Marie-Anne Lagimodière an exceptional figure?

MS:

She is exceptional because she was the first woman to live in the far west (Fort Edmonton) some 50 years before another Euro-Canadian female attempted it. Despite incredible hardships, she lived to the then incredible old age of 96, partly because she adapted to Indian ways. She was also Louis Riel’s grandmother.

OB:

How did you research Marie-Anne?

MS:

I culled all archives, letters, fort journals, historical sites as well as interviewing family members, historians, both amateur and professional, and travelling in her footsteps – she by canoe, me by car.

OB:

What was your first publication?

MS:

My first book, written a thousand years ago, was with the cartoonist, the late Ben Wicks, called How to Catch a Man.

OB:

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

MS:

The three books I would choose as gifts are Images of the West: Changing Perceptions of the Prairies, 1690-1960, by R. Douglas Francis, Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood, and, especially if the person was an American, Flames Along the Border by Pierre Berton.

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

MS:

Ideal writing environment: a warm, quiet room free of distraction, i.e. no telephone, no windows, no people although my two dogs would be allowed.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

MS:

At the moment I’m reading The Painter from Shanghai, a novel by the American writer Jennifer Cody Epstein.

OB:

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

MS:

The most memorable response from a reader occurred at a reading from my Revenge of the Land. A Saskatchewan farmer actually recited by heart whole sections of the book, claiming it was his “new bible.”

OB:

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

MS:

Best advice: write, even if you are sick, depressed, excited, blocked.

OB:

What is your next project?

MS:

My next project is a novel based in Pelican Narrows Indian Reserve in 1924.

Marie-Anne Maggie Siggins has entered the domain of Pierre Berton and Peter Newman — the domain of serious, well-researched narrative history.” — Toronto Star

Read more about Marie-Anne by Maggie Siggins at the McClelland & Stewart website.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

Dundurn

Open Book App Ad