Q: Why did you write your novel, Tears in the Grass?
A: I was born and raised in Saskatchewan. Though I’ve not lived there in many years the prairie grasses, big sky, wide open spaces, have continued to call to me. Almost every year I return to ‘renew my spirit’. I go to the same places where I am not likely to meet another person and I can simply dwell in the presence of the prairie.
I realized that if that land had that kind of meaning for me, how much greater must its meaning and relevance be for indigenous, First Nations people. And then, to have it taken from them, and used in ways so foreign to their sensibilities. Ideas flowed from that deep place that one is only half conscious of when writing. In addition, I have come to believe that my main character, Elinor, a ninety year old Cree woman, chose me to tell her story. In an earlier version I had her die half way through the novel. Perhaps that was some of the reason the book was rejected from the earlier submissions, even as there were positive reviews. I worked on another novel, and several short stories, but Elinor kept returning to me. I went back to the novel, resurrected her, and had her remain until the end of the book. I am grateful for the time I had with Elinor; she taught me a lot.
Q: What book, or stories, writers, have especially impressed or stayed with you?
A: Several. William Trevor. Anthony Doerr.
Lydia Davis. Anne Michaels. I continue to discover new authors.
Stay tuned and I may get around to telling you why I like these writers.
Q: What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
A: AC. Ass on chair. Meaning, show up, stay at your desk,
or wherever you write. Keep on writing.
Get that ‘shitty first draft’, as Anne Lamott refers to it.