Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Word on the Street interview series: Bonnie Bowman

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Bonnie Bowman

Bonnie Bowman is a Relit Award-winning writer and the author of Spaz (Anvil Press), a novel which follows the life of a suburban shoe salesman with a fairytale-like quest.

Bonnie Bowman talks with Open Book as part our The Word on the Street interview series.

Open Book's interview series features authors appearing at the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent, a brand-new element at WOTS which is supported by the OMDC (Ontario Media Development Corporation), and which features some of the best fiction, poetry and non-fiction being produced by writers and publishers in our fine province.

Stay tuned to Open Book: Toronto this month for more interviews and a series of exciting contests in partnership with Word on the Street!

Open Book:

Tell us about what you’ll be reading in the Vibrant Voices tent.

Bonnie Bowman:

I’ll be reading from my novel, Spaz, published by Anvil Press. The novel follows the travails of Walter Finch who has never been able to make his feet work properly, an aberration which gives him a lopsided and uncoordinated gait (hence, his childhood nickname, Spaz). Rather than letting this defeat him, Walter becomes obsessed with feet and shoes, which leads him inevitably to working in mall shoe stores, which further feeds his fetish, spiraling him into a mad passion for designing the perfect woman’s shoe. This, he is convinced, will lead him to the perfect woman’s foot, which will naturally be attached to the perfect woman. It’s basically an edgy, blackly humorous skewed take on Cinderella.


Have you attended Word on the Street in the past? If so, tell us about a favourite memory. If not, what are you most looking forward to?


I have attended Word on the Street in the past, many times. My favourite memory is probably the Word on the Street I attended in Vancouver for my first novel, Skin. I was thrilled to be reading in the “Sex” tent, and from there I totally milked my inaugural WOTS outing by attending the after party in an organizer’s apartment, getting wasted and mingling with other writers and people involved in the Vancouver literary scene. I felt like I had “arrived” as an author after that.


The Vibrant Voices tent celebrates Ontario authored and published books. Tell us about a favourite Ontario author or book.


Tough question. I have a lot of favourite Ontario authors and books. But to pick one, I’m going to have to go with Tony Burgess (any book) where the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. His work is bleak, atmospheric, violent, twisted, funny, and best of all, delivered by a truly original voice. Add to that Burgess’s mastery of language, and what’s not to love? I first got hooked when I read the stories in The Hellmouths of Bewdley. His books are set in small Ontario towns (real towns) and we all know what evil lurks in small towns.


What’s the best advice about public readings you have ever received?


Don’t read too long.


Word on the Street happens simultaneously in Toronto, Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener and Halifax. If you could be in two places at once, which WOTS festival (in addition to Toronto) would you attend on September 25?


It’s a toss-up between Vancouver and Halifax, west or east. Vancouver, because I lived there for a long time and it would be an opportunity to reconnect with a lot of my friends. Halifax, because it would be an opportunity to extend my stay into an east coast trip and a much hoped for visit to Newfoundland.


What can you tell us about your next project?


My next project is a novel called Shuffle. It’s about a 50-something blues piano player in Vancouver who is trying to come to grips with the fact that his glory days are gone. He has been reduced to living in a piano store and giving piano lessons to a disaffected (and completely untalented) housewife. It’s as much a comment on the dwindling live music scene in Vancouver, as it is on the protagonist’s dwindling hopes for any type of resurrection.

Bonnie Bowman’s debut novel, Skin, won the inaugural ReLit Award. Her writing has been published in subTerrain, The Vancouver Review, Reader’s Digest, and in the anthologies Exact Fare Only I and Body Breakdowns. Bonnie is also a songwriter, journalist, freelance writer and has been a finalist for the Western Magazine Awards. She was born in Toronto, where she now lives after a longish stint in Vancouver. Spaz is her second novel.

For more information about Spaz please visit the Anvil Press website.

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

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