Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Word on the Street Interview Series: Heather A. Clark

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The Word on the Street Interview Series: Heather A. Clark

This Sunday, Toronto's book lovers will descend on Queen's Park for The Word on the Street. A highlight of the literary calendar, the festival features readings, panel discussions, children's programming and a fabulous marketplace of magazine and book publishers.

Today we conclude our annual The Word on the Street interview series, which features authors from the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent, by speaking to Heather A. Clark, author of Elephant in the Sky (ECW Press). Elephant in the Sky is the story of nine-year-old Nate and his mother, and the struggles of their family as Nate's mental illness becomes increasing severe. An assured and wise novel, it tackles the complexities of love, devotion, illness and family.

Heather tells us about which fellow author she most looking forward to seeing at The Word on the Street, the character who has stayed with her and the beautiful bit of Ontario that her and her family love.

We'll see you on Sunday, September 21, 2014! Be sure to visit the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent to catch Heather and other fantastic readers!

Open Book:

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

Heather A. Clark:

I will be reading from my latest novel, Elephant in the Sky, a book that tackles the subject of childhood mental disorder and the impact it has on a close family. The story starts from a young boy’s perspective (little Nate, who’s nine) and brings to life all that’s going on in his unbalanced mind, such as rampant thought patterns and paranoid delusions. The story then moves to the perspective of his mother Ashley, a hardworking advertising executive struggling with her own balance and the worry that she’s not giving her family enough of her time (especially now that she senses something might be wrong with her son!), and the novel is told in rotating chapters to reveal both perspectives.

I think, at its heart, Elephant in the Sky is the story of unconditional love — and I believe that it helps to articulate a complicated, real-life subject with sensitivity and real-life wisdom gained from the true story of someone very close to me.

In the Vibrant Voices tent, I’d love to dive more into the story of Nate and Ashley, while also sharing my own personal family story of mental illness.

OB:

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

HAC:

This will be my first time attending The Word on the Street and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m really looking forward to hearing from the other authors I really admire (I’m particularly excited to hear Claire Cameron speak as I just devoured her book The Bear).

OB:

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

HAC:

My favourite book of all time is The Book of Negroes, so I’d have to say my favourite Ontario author is Lawrence Hill. The range of emotion in his book is amazing. Tragic, yet uplifting. Devastating, yet optimistic. It viciously pulls at your heartstrings, yet fills you with incredible warmth. His creation of Aminata Diallo was beautifully written, and I still think of her strength and limitless determination on occasion, despite the fact that she was a character in a book. Aminata’s story and her character has stayed with me, which I think is the ultimate sign of a very good book.

OB:

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

HAC:

Simply put? To always be yourself.

OB:

Word on the Street is happening simultaneously in Toronto, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Halifax on September 21 this year (as well as in Kitchener on September 20). If you could be in two places at once, which WOTS festival, in addition to Toronto, would you attend?

HAC:

I would be in Toronto and Halifax. I spent almost 4 years of my childhood growing up in the Maritimes, and so it holds a very special spot in my heart. We travelled to Halifax often, and I’d love to go back.

OB:

Do you have a favourite spot in Ontario?

HAC:

Oakville, which is where I now live with my husband and three children. Specifically, we love to go to Coronation Park, which we always walk to as it’s very close to our house. While we go year-round, summertime is our favourite season as there is always something fun to do, from the children’s festival to letting the kids get soaked in the splash pad (and the amazing view of the Toronto skyline in the distance doesn’t hurt either!).

OB:

What can you tell us about your next project?

HAC:

I’ve got a few ideas bouncing around for book #3 but I haven’t landed on just one yet. I’m really looking forward to getting started, though!


Heather A. Clark is the author of the bestselling novel Chai Tea Sunday. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three children. Visit Heather online at http://www.HeatherAClark.com.

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