Five Questions with…Emily Schultz

Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes, will participate in a round table discussion on October 23 and a reading October 25.

© Brian Joseph Davis

IFOA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Schultz: Too many to list, but as  I lived in Toronto for quite a few years I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and local writers who I miss.

IFOA: You’re the co-founder of Joyland. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your contributors lately?

Schultz: Short fiction has different laws from novel writing but maybe something I’m reminded of all the time is don’t waste that first sentence. It’s the one free moment the reader gives you. Everything after has to be earned.

IFOA: In The Blondes, women with blonde hair turn into zombies—even if they have a dye job. We hear you’ve dyed your hair blonde in the past. Did you like being a blonde?

Schultz: I think what I learned, and what I tried to to put into the novel, was that small things divide women during our day to day lives—hair, culture, class, age—but more important issues will always unite us.

IFOA: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Schultz: Well I’m working on a TV pilot right now and that feels like a vacation from novel writing. I guess I have no escape from writing.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: I wish I could…

Schultz: Zero-out my Visa balance once in my life.

IFOA: Bonus question: International Festival of Authors in one word:

Schultz: Opulent. (An adjective that most writers never get to experience, so thank you IFOA!)

Click here for more about Schultz and The Blondes.

Five Questions with… Linda Spalding

Linda Spalding, author of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Governor General’s Award-nominated novel The Purchase, will participate in several IFOA events.

© Michael Ondaatje

IFOA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Spalding: I’m keen to hear Michael Chabon read. He’s a friend of mine and I like his work but have never heard him read. Ditto Louise Erdrich. It’s all going to be fantastic.

IFOA: When and where do you prefer to read?

Spalding: To myself? I love to read myself to sleep, but then that’s just what it is! The best reading time for me is in the morning, sitting up straight with all the attention I can muster and a cup of coffee in hand.

IFOA: The Purchase is inspired by stories of your own ancestors. What made you decide to write about them now?

Spalding: I’ve been working on this book for several years and thinking about it longer than that. Ideas fester like wounds and then they either heal or require amputation. This one healed.

IFOA: You write both fiction and non-fiction, and The Purchase is a bit of a blend of both. What genre will you be working in next, and why?

Spalding: I’ll start another novel one of these days, but it may be slightly interrupted if Maryann Acker gets out of prison. When that happens, I’d like to do a little reprise of her story.

IFOA:  Finish this sentence: I can’t write unless I….

Spalding: But I can! When I was a girl I made myself write with my eyes closed on the city bus. It has served me well.

IFOA: Bonus question: International Festival of Authors in one word:

Spalding: Interconnectedness.

Five Questions with… Joey Slinger

Joey Slinger, former Toronto Star humour columnist and author of Nina, the Bandit Queen, will participate in an October 24 round table discussion and a reading October 28.

© Toshiko Adilman

IFOA: You spent nearly 30 years as a Toronto Star columnist. Do you ever miss those newspaper deadlines?

Slinger: No. But I say that without a whole lot of thought. After giving it a huge amount of consideration, I would put it this way: Are you out of your freaking mind?

IFOA: Your protagonist in Nina, the Bandit Queen, wants to rob a bank to raise money for the local pool. Have you ever stolen anything?

Slinger: It depends on whether you count every single one of my ideas. Apart from that, if it actually was me who stole the brass plaque from the front door of Sir. John A. Macdonald’s house in Kingston, you’d think I’d remember, wouldn’t you? So what is it doing in my office?

IFOA: In your mind, who is the king—or queen—of humour writing?

Slinger: Short answer: Mark Twain, Alan Coren, Nora Ephron, Charles Dickens, James Thurber, J. M. Barrie, Joseph Heller, Barbara Ehrenreich (I’m not kidding), The Blessed Leacock, the Pythons, P. G. Wodehouse, Terry Southern, Lewis Carroll, and Donald E. Westlake.

Long answer: Let’s go somewhere and have a couple of drinks and discuss it.

IFOA: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Slinger: I’d be the blue-eyed Jewish-Irish Mohican scout who is dying in your arms at the roulette table in Monte Carlo.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: What surprises me the most is…

Slinger: That we sent soldiers to fight in Afghanistan. It’s not like everything in history didn’t tell us it was a sensationally bad idea.

What surprises me the least? That we still have soldiers in Afghanistan. Being there in the first place, though, is what surprises me the most. That and people buying tickets to watch the Maple Leafs.

IFOA: Bonus question: This year’s International Festival of Authors in one word…

Slinger: Celery.

For more about Slinger and his appearance at IFOA, click here.

Five Questions with… Marjorie Celona

© Sherri Barber

Marjorie Celona will read from her debut novel, Y, and participate in an IFOA round table discussion called Basic Instinct: Style vs. Content.

IFOA: What was your favourite book as a child?

Celona: The Ant and Bee books by Angela Banner, particularly the ones featuring ‘Kind Dog.’

IFOA: You grew up in Victoria, where Y is set, but you wrote the book while living in upstate New York. Does putting distance between you and the place you’re writing about make things easier, or more difficult?

Celona: People sometimes ask whether I write at home, or in a coffee shop, or at the beach. And whether my surroundings matter—and whether I need to be in a beautiful space. I have to say that none of these things matter when I write. There was a certain similarity to the landscape, believe it or not, in the woods of central New York State and Vancouver Island, and this was at times helpful, but, really, I’d be lying if I said that where I am has any kind of bearing on what I write.  

IFOA: What time of day do you usually write, and why?

Celona: For the most part, it doesn’t matter—if I’m working on something, I can work on it any time. When I wrote Y, I wrote every other day, sometimes all day.

IFOA: Who are you most excited to see at the Festival?

Celona: Alice Munro.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: If I could change one thing…

Celona: . . . about what? If it were up to me, I’d change something about everything.

For more about Celona and her appearance at IFOA, visit readings.org.

Five Questions with… Kristel Thornell

Kristel Thornell will share her debut novel, Night Street, in a reading October 23 and a round table discussion October 27.

© Joi Ong

IFOA: You used to live in Canada. What’s your favourite Canadian pastime?

Thornell: I lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in an apartment overlooking the St. John River. Back then it was watching the river from my windows and long walks, especially in the fall. These days I most often visit Toronto and Montreal, where I love to wander aimlessly and to eat my way through the tantalizing mix of cultures.

IFOA: Night Street is about an Australian landscape painter, Clarice Beckett. What do painters and writers have in common?

Thornell: A lot, I think. In my experience, they seem to share a compulsion to observe, to catch resonant impressions and preserve, shape, communicate and revere them. Perhaps, too, an attraction to intense, transporting experiences.

IFOA: Writers of historical fiction take fact and render it fictional. How do you fictionalize history while maintaining a sense of historical accuracy?

Thornell: It’s tricky. I try to develop a guiding sense of a period, any and every way I can – through fiction and non-fiction, archival material, art, music, food, clothing, and my own experiments with making a voice that seems to belong to it. I aim to see and feel that time as fully as possible, as a vivid three-dimensional space, and then to let my characters move freely there.

IFOA: If you could have lunch with any author, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

Thornell: Virginia Woolf. I’m a fan. And I imagine it would have been interesting – entertaining or unsettling or both – to be in the company of a mind so sharp and curious.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: One day I will…

Thornell: Write a novel (some sort of mystery involving a translator?) set on a Scottish island. This will require a lengthy stay on such an island, a lot of walking, fireside reading, pots of tea and oatcakes. For research.

IFOA: Bonus question: This year’s International Festival of Authors in one word..

Thornell: Alluring.

For more about Kristel Thornell and her appearance at IFOA, click here.

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