Connie Gault, author of A Beauty and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!
Connie Gault: I’ve found that my creative process remains almost the same—the story, novel or play begins with characters in a particular setting, a girl standing under an old metal arch, for example, or a couple sitting on an unmoving train, or in the case of A Beauty, a young woman stepping out of a car onto the dusty verge of a gravel road, and then expands outwards as the characters’ worlds come alive—but the different genres require different approaches, almost different mental muscles. In switching from one to another, I’ve had to learn their techniques all over again. I believe, though, that the effort enriches the results.
IFOA: A Beauty is set in Depression-era Saskatchewan. What about this particular time appealed to you?
Gault: The Depression is iconic Saskatchewan. Drought, dust, failing crops and vanishing towns are part of our inheritance. I grew up hearing about those years; they affected my grandparents, parents, me and my children. Two factors made the era perfect for this novel: I wanted to explore ways in which the past haunts people, and my central character is a young woman who incites a yearning for romance in those she meets. There is probably no time in our history when people had a greater need for a little excitement and glamour in their lives.
IFOA: Can you tell us where the title of your novel, A Beauty, came from?
Gault: The title refers to Elena Huhtala, the enigmatic central character of the novel, whose beauty is examined and remarked upon by almost everyone she meets. I like the old-fashioned sound of it; we don’t often call a woman a beauty anymore, and for good reasons. Maybe we are beginning (just barely beginning?) to see how labelling women this way objectifies and diminishes them. But there is also a great, sad beauty in the landscape of the prairies at this time in their history, and in the striving of the people to endure.
IFOA: What has the experience of promoting your new book around Canada been like?
Gault: I’ve enjoyed promoting A Beauty, especially the two fantastic launches of the novel, in Toronto and in Saskatoon, the latter with a Madison flashdance (the last third of the novel is set in the 60s). The best reward is hearing from readers across the country that they have appreciated the book.
IFOA: What’s next for you?
Gault: I’m working on a new novel and finishing a collection of short stories.
Connie Gault is the author of two collections of short stories, several plays for stage and radio and the novel Euphoria, winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and shortlisted for the High Plains Fiction Award and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book of Canada and the Caribbean. She will present A Beauty on June 24 at IFOA Weekly’s Where the Heart Is alongside Sabrina Ramnanan. This event is FREE.