Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Susan Glickman

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Susan Glickman

Multi-genre author Susan Glickman seems to move effortlessly between fiction, poetry, writing for young readers and non-fiction. Just when it seems like she's tackled every genre, she shows readers she's got even more skills in reserve, publishing a mystery novel this spring: Safe as Houses (Cormorant Books).

Safe as Houses tells the story of a murder in Toronto's tony Hillcrest Village. When Liz and Maxime, two local residents, find themselves on the case, it seems at first like an intellectual exercise, a puzzle to be solved. But the real danger and violence of the situation becomes all too apparent, and Liz and Maxime finds themselves in uncharted territory.

To celebrate the publication of Safe as Houses, we asked Susan to tackle one more challenge — our Dirty Dozen interview series, which asks authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Susan tells us about why she might have trouble finding your house for a party, a bicycle with a will to survive and her translation doppelgänger.

  1. I am dyslexic with numbers. If you give me a three-digit street address I will instantly reverse the figures, and cannot remember anyone’s phone number, even my own, without concentrated practice.
  2. The wind makes me extremely nervous. Sometimes on windy days I don’t even leave the house.
  3. I love animals and animals generally love me. Once in the space of twelve months I brought home a stray dog, a stray cat, and an orphaned squirrel. However, on another memorable occasion I tripped over a puppy and fell on it, got bitten, in revenge, by a very large dog, and landed up in the emergency room on IV antibiotics.
  4. In university, I acted with William Hurt and danced with Meryl Streep’s younger brother, Harry. (Our wonderful dance teacher was named Griselda Bear. Seriously.) I started out wanting to be a performer only to discover I preferred improvising and choreographing and rehearsing to being on stage night after night. I actually did a Ph.D. on Shakespeare’s dramaturgy and was an English professor for a few years before dropping out of academia. Now I’m considering dropping out again to return to my first love, visual art.
  5. Although I am comfortable on stage before any number of strangers, I suffer from agoraphobia and have frequently fled large parties or book launches in a panic, or hidden in the bathroom until I am sufficiently composed — and it’s late enough — for me to leave without offending anyone. So if I don’t say “Hi” to you in public, it’s probably because I am having an anxiety attack.
  6. The most frequent observation people make about me is that I am extremely short ((just five feet). They always seem to find this surprising. Why? If some people weren’t short, then other people couldn’t be tall, right?
  7. Despite this, I played a lot of basketball in high school, where my nickname was "Wilt."
  8. I’ve had the same purple bicycle since 1976. I bought it in England when I lived there and rode it through the Black Hills of Wales on a trip with my boyfriend (who was 6’4”) to Hay on Wye back when Hay was famous for a single bookstore. My bike was the only possession that survived a shipwreck en route to Canada (seriously! All the crates on deck were smashed). Later in Toronto it was stolen, but the police recovered it because I had recorded the serial number.
  9. 1976 was the same year former British prime minister Edward Heath made a joke about me that was recorded in the Times of London. I was working as the receptionist for Sidgwick and Jackson, his publisher. Heath complained about how long it took to get through to the head of the firm, Lord Longford (also known as “Lord Porn”; a story for another time). Longford defended my incompetence by saying that I had received a double first at Oxford, to which Heath replied: “Ah, that explains it. She must be a girl of a highly reflective nature.”
  10. Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, was my cousin. Another UK relative, Anna Wyner, was a mosaic artist who designed and built a swimming pool for George Harrison. I also had a cousin who was knighted. All this may explain my excessive tea-drinking and tendency to lapse into an English accent whilst reading aloud.
  11. I have a witch’s tit, and wrote a poem about it. If you don’t know what that is, read the poem.
  12. The translator of my novels for Les Editions du Boréal, Christiane Duchesne, and I have lead eerily parallel lives. We are both from Montreal; we both married artists who work in three dimensions (hers is a sculptor, mine a glass-blower) and have one daughter and one son; we write for both children and adults; we even lived a couple of blocks from each other in Athens in 1972 and hung out at the same local café. Every time we speak we discover more similarities.
  13. I used to be plagued by having an extraordinary memory. Before I went to sleep each night I had to relive each day in painful detail as a way of purging myself of it. Other folks lament that aging has made them forgetful, but for me it has been a blessing. (If I don’t say “Hi” to you in public it may also be that I am embarrassed to have forgotten your name)

Susan Glickman


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