Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Lauren Carter

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Lauren Carter

Debut novelist Lauren Carter is the author of Swarm (Brindle & Glass), set in the not-too-distant future. Previously published as a poet, Lauren is already drawing widespread praise for her prose.

Swarm may have a futuristic bent, but it speaks to current anxieties; in a world of scarcity, the arrival of a needy child upsets the fine balance of an isolated island community. Fishing, farming and bee-keeping is the reality of protagonist Sandy's life until her perhaps-impossible desire to have a child in a world of dwindling resources is re-awakened.

Today Lauren speaks to us as part of the The WAR Series: Writers As Readers. This unconventional interview series gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Read on to hear from Lauren about blue and pink spines on books, one inspiring and unusual teacher and the common ground she has with Farley Mowat.

And don't miss the chance to see Lauren reading in person with fellow novelist Elizabeth Ruth on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 in Toronto. Click here for more event information.
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The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
I have a vague memory of a kid’s book about a child wearing yellow rubber boots that I took great joy in reading out loud (constantly, while the T.V. was on, thereby simultaneously revelling in the sound of words and torturing my siblings while they were trying to watch Bonanza). Charlotte’s Web was the first novel I read, also repeatedly, restarting it as soon as I finished, until I’d read it five or six times.

A book that made me cry:
One of the most recent ones was Susan Swan’s The Western Light, for its honest and heart-rending portrayal of a daughter yearning for her absent father’s love. Tenderly done.

The first adult book I read:
I think it was Fahrenheit 451, because I wanted to see why it was banned in Footloose (I grew up in the ‘80s) or it could have been one of my aunt’s smutty Book-of-the-Month family sagas or possibly The Keep (a horror novel by F. Paul Wilson, not the superior book with the same title by Jennifer Egan). My parents pretty much let me read whatever I wanted, which I think contributed to my love of reading. There is too much segregation these days: Y.A. books marketed by gender, with pink or blue spines, make me crazy...

A book that made me laugh out loud:
One Day by David Nicholls had some beautifully absurd comedic moments and the black humour of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady managed to be both hilarious and heart-rending.

The book I have re-read many times:
Well, Charlotte’s Web, when I was six. But I actually don’t often re-read books. There are too many!

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Many, many, but I’ll go with David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel. It is a book I return to often which has really helped me understand the reality of anxiety within the art-making process and how to come to terms and deal with it. If I’d gotten my hands on it as a teenager (although it wasn’t even published yet), I think it would have helped me better understand myself and my identity as a writer.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:
The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy. I read this as part of an independent study in a high-school English class led by an unusual and inspiring teacher. I identified very much with Florentine, the main character, and her quiet, emotional struggle to find love and fulfillment in the midst of pressing poverty. The descriptions made Montreal — a place I hadn’t visited at that point in my small-town childhood — very real and also made me realize the depth and breadth of fiction: that quiet, self-conscious women (like me) could be written about, could even be heroines.

The best book I read in the past six months:
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady.

The book I plan on reading next:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

A possible title for my autobiography:
Lost in the Barrens, with apologies to Farley Mowat.


Lauren Carter has been published in several literary journals and has been nominated for the Journey Prize. Lichen Bright, her first collection of poetry, was long-listed for the ReLit Award. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including National Geographic Traveler, This Magazine, the Georgia Straight, First Nations Drum, The Writer and Adbusters. A transplanted Ontarian, she currently lives in The Pas, Manitoba. Swarm is her first novel. More information can be found on her website http://www.laurencarter.ca.

For more information about Swarm please visit the Brindle & Glass website.

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

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