Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Elise Moser

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Ten Questions with Elise Moser

Open Book talks to Elise Moser about reading, writing and her debut novel, Because I Have Loved and Hidden It (Cormorant Books). Watch a trailer for the novel here.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your book.

Elise Moser:

My book is called Because I Have Loved and Hidden It. It's a book about a woman who is having an affair with a married man – and then, when he goes missing, she falls into an affair with his wife. So, obviously, it's about secret love affairs. But it's also about the other ways we hide love, and therefore deform our ability to express it – between parents and children, husbands and wives and within ourselves.

The title comes from a beautiful poem by Montreal poet Susan Elmslie – called, appropriately, "I Write". The poem also has a line that says, "history repeats with the cocooning of secrets," and that describes the book perfectly – these psychic distortions travel through generations.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

EM:

No, I was only thinking about writing it so it said what I meant.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

EM:

The studio where I wrote most of the first draft of Because was pretty close to ideal. I live in Montreal, and a generous friend lent me her studio in Toronto while she was out of the country. It was a very small but sun- and air-filled place, and it included her dog, who was a wonderful companion.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

EM:

Probably it was my story "The Seven-Day Itch," which appeared in the anthology Witpunk in 2003. It was about a woman who gets gradually sucked into her lover over the course of a harrowing several days, until she disappears. Kind of the opposite of what happens in my book!

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

EM:

I read a lot of Canadian fiction and poetry, and the best of that always influences me. And living in Montreal, surrounded by so many languages and cultures that are always sliding in and out of and through each other -- even in the same sentence, on the same plate, or on the same face -- is a constant spur to creativity.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

EM:

It would depend on who was receiving the gift. But some of the titles I'd choose might be: Fall on Your Knees; Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys; The Afterlife of George Cartwright, a tour de force of both craft and imagination by former Poet Laureate John Steffler; Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway; Snow Formations by Carolyn Marie Souaid, because we have great poets here so I have to include at least one; the novel River Thieves by Michael Crummey. Sorry, I couldn't just choose three – I could barely stop myself at six.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

EM:

Animal by Alexandra Leggat and Everything is Now by Michelle Cliff. I just finished The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Nairne Holtz's new collection, This One's Going to Last Forever, and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's new novel, Perfecting. She has such spooky power, and such an unusual relationship to nature and to emotion.

OBT:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

EM:

"If you want to be a writer, you have to write." When you have a friend who will tell you that, you are truly blessed.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

EM:

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Learn to take criticism with grace and humility. Be patient. And most of all: persistence pays.

OBT:

What is your next project?

EM:

I am still close to the beginning, so who knows what this will be when (if) it's finished, but it's about teenaged girls living with violence and finding strength and finally liberation by supporting each other. I think (cross fingers) it's going to be a novel.


Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elise Moser holds an Honours BA from McGill and is the current president of the Quebec Writers' Federation. Her short stories have been published and broadcast in Canada, the U.S. and across the Commonwealth. Her stories "Malke's Baby" and "Advanced Pilates Tickle Trunk" have won the CBC/QWF Short Story Competition in 2004 and 2006 respectively. After many years working as a buyer at Paragraphe Bookstore in Montreal, Elise is now familiar to many stores across the country as a sales rep with Lexa Publishers' Representatives. She is also the Literary Editor of The Rover, an electronic independent review of arts and culture. Elise lives in Montreal.

For more information about Because I Have Loved and Hidden It please visit the Cormorant Books website.


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

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