Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

CBC Canada Reads Interview Series: Lisa Moore

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Lisa Moore

It's almost time — the 2013 CBC Canada Reads debates start just one week from today! Today we continue our Canada Reads interview series, speaking with Lisa Moore, the author of February (House of Anansi). February, a novel which inspired the Globe & Mail to declare "[Moore] gets it. She gets life", is representing the Atlantic region in Canada Reads.

Lisa tells us about the rich literary history of the east coast, the real life tragedy that inspired February and the way she plans to celebrate if she wins (which will make her fans very happy).

Hosted by popular CBC personality and author Jian Ghomeshi, Canada Reads pits five fantastic Canadian books against one another in a (mostly) friendly competition, with each book championed by a Canadian celebrity in a series of broadcast debates. For more information about CBC Canada Reads, please visit their website. The 2013 debates run from February 11-14.

Stay tuned to Open Book: Toronto for interviews with the 2013 CBC Canada Reads writers and panellists this week and next.

Open Book:

Tell us about your book and when you wrote it.

Lisa Moore:

February is about the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, an oil rig that went down of the coast of Newfoundland in 1982. All 84 men on the Ocean Ranger died. It’s a tragedy that is still felt very deeply in Newfoundland. The novel February centers around the fictional character Helen O’Mara. She loses her husband on the Ocean Ranger. Helen is a mother of three when the rig sinks, and is pregnant with her fourth child. She brings up her children on her own, works as a secretary and runs a tailoring business, designing wedding dresses. The novel takes place in the present, when Helen believes she has fallen in love again. The new love has brought up the memories of losing Cal, and a need to understand what he went through the night the rig went down. I think the novel is about grief and getting through it. Being open to love, living fully, but in the midst of all that, and honoring the dead. Grief is more about remembering faithfully than it is about forgetting. I began writing the novel in the early 2000’s.


What was most challenging about writing this book and what was most pleasurable?


The most difficult thing about writing February was coming to terms with how unnecessary the Ocean Ranger tragedy was. All those lives were lost because adequate safety precautions weren’t taken. Corners were cut in the name of profit, and the men didn’t stand a chance. Lifeboats were crushed on contact with the water, many of the men weren’t wearing survival suits; they hadn’t been trained to deal with the emergency that arose.

The pleasurable part of writing this book was imagining the characters into being, giving them gestures and dialogue, making them travel and work and shop and cook and letting them fall in love and get in trouble and come through it.


Tell us about the experience of meeting the panelist who will be defending your book.


Trent McClellan is hilariously funny and a super smart guy. I felt was a real honour that he had read my book and connected with it. I was thrilled to meet him.


How would you describe the literary culture of the region your book is representing? Is there another book in addition to your own that you feel captures the spirit of the region?


The writing in Atlantic Canada is very diverse, but there’s a strong leaning toward experimentation in subject matter and form. A love of all the shape-shifting language can do, a love of precision and dexterity and audacity and there’s usually an irreverent humour at work. I am thinking of a relatively newish, contemporary blush of writers like Kathleen Winter, Michael Winter, Michael Crummey, Jessica Grant, Jeanette Lyons, Lynn Coady, Sue Goyette and Alexander MacLeod. But that’s just a start. I could keep going, Wayne Johntson, Joan Clark, Larry Mathews, Claire Wilkshire, Bernice Morgan, Alistar MacLeod, Ramona Dearing, Russell Wangersky, Leslie Vryenhoek …and all the others on the Canada Reads list, to name a few.


If your book wins the competition, will you celebrate? And if so, how?


Write another one.

Lisa Moore is the bestselling author of the novels February, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Alligator, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her third novel, Caught, will be published by House of Anansi Press in June 2013. She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

For more information about February please visit the House of Anansi website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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