In 1981 I stumbled across the charming mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia, and never left. Here, I’ve raised kids while juggling myriad jobs, most of them involving books. In my early years here I had a used bookstore; for a time, I worked at the local independent bookstore; for the last 30 years, and to various degrees, my place has been at the Nelson Public Library.
That’s where I met Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency. I’d just finished my first book, and I was figuring out what to do next. Luckily, Morty knew exactly what to do. He’s been my agent ever since.
Treading Water was published by McArthur & Company in 2005. It was chosen as a “Heather’s Pick” shortly after publication. The book made the top of W. P. Kinsella’s honourable mentions for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award shortlist. In 2010 it won the One Book, One Kootenay Librarian’s Choice Award.
Wind Tails (McArthur, 2007) followed; for me, this book was a way to weave the stories and characters I’d been collecting into something new, and a little experimental. It was shortlisted for the 2008 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award. In 2009 Wind Tails was released in the U.S. by HarperCollins/Avon under the title Far From Home.
The story in Sounding Line, published by McArthur & Company in 2009, draws from my Nova Scotia roots. This is a community I know, the famous 1967 U.F.O. crash at its centre the stuff of local legend and a part of my family’s summers when I was growing up. It was great to work closely with some of the residents of Shag Harbour to write this novel. Sounding Line is also a “Heather’s Pick”.
Flying with Amelia (McArthur, 2011), demanded authenticity in terms of research, voice, and cultural nuance, a challenge I found engaging, and, if occasionally daunting, always exciting. It’s quite a challenge to write a collection of linked stories that spans a century and a country, and I loved the research.
In fall 2013 Cormorant Books (Toronto) became the new distributor of my novels and released Flying with Amelia in trade paper in spring 2014.
I’ve also co-authored four regional photographic books (Ward Creek Press) and illustrated seven children’s books for Polestar Press and for Bluefield books., among others. On the side I’ve worked as a journalist, writing features, news stories, and editorials for more than twenty years, and consulted on a number of book projects. What can I say? Books and words are just never very far away.
This Proust Questionnaire was requested by the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival when Anne was a participant in the inCite reading series at the Vancouver Public Library in February, 2012. Find out more here about VIWF.
The Proust Questionnaire is believed to reveal an individual’s true nature. Mostly, it’s just fun to answer, and to sometimes get a little flippant…
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A sunny fall day—late afternoon, long shadows—walking in the woods with a few good dogs. There might be a raven in the top of a Douglas Fir, making chortling sounds.
What does your ideal day look like?
I think I just described it. You expected writing to figure into it, didn’t you?
What is your greatest extravagance?
I asked my partner. He said: “dogfood.” This might be true.
What possession would you be heartbroken if you lost?
My faculties. I’m in possession of them right now, but I’m terrified of losing them. But would I know enough to be heartbroken?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’ll never tell.
What childhood fear has followed you into adulthood?
The fear of looking foolish. The fear of losing my faculties came much later.
Do you take comfort in darkness or light?
Is this a trick question?
Do you remember your dreams?
In a whispy sort of way. The good ones involve dogs and forest walks; for information on the bad ones, see”childhood fear” question.
How do you collect snippets of observations and ideas that come to you unexpectedly?
Not trusting my faculties, I write them down on small pieces of paper. Then, if I’m smart, I transcribe them into a “miscellaneous ideas” file on my computer, because an hour after I handwrite anything, I can’t decipher it.
What emotions do you experience when you sit down to begin a new work?
That’s the other fear: that I won’t be equal to the task. This self-doubt continues throughout the writing process, which is why I find first draft so hard. Re-reading, the feeling is most often relief: it’s never as bad as I thought.
What is your favorite way to avoid writing?
I’m avoiding it right now, filling out this questionnaire. There are so many ways!
Does being in love propel or postpone your work?
In the first blush, postpone for sure. It’s a happy problem, though. Once things settle out, it’s business as usual.
How do you work under pressure?
Quite well, actually.
What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
Oh, my. There are so many. Franny and Zooey, maybe.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
If you were reincarnated as a person or a thing, who or what would you be?
Definitely a teapot.
Tell us one thing you can’t prove but believe is true…
Well, it’s not reincarnation (although I’d like to be a teapot). I believe in the capacity for kindness in all human beings. Dogs, too.