Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Marianne Paul

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Ten Questions with Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul is the author of three novels published by BookLand Press: Tending Memory, Twice in a Blue Moon and Dead Girl Diaries. Her stories and poetry have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications. She has won several literary competitions including, among others, The Record short story contest and the Canadian Author Okanagan short fiction award.

OBT:

Tell us about your book, Dead Girl Diaries.

MP:

Stopping along a dark highway to help a stranger with car trouble, Maxine is attacked and left for dead at the side of the road. Her ghost narrates the tale from the otherworld, an unearthly place where a renegade angel helps her escape the boredom of paradise, and God makes random appearances as a disembodied Voice, a snoring mountain, and a manic rock start. Although the theme of the book deals with death, I have to admit the story was great fun to write.

OBT:

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

MP:

The idea arose when my daughter, about twelve or thirteen at the time, went through a stage of being petrified of dying. She wanted to know what would happen to her if there was just nothingness. I told her I couldn’t say for certain, but I tended to believe that there was life after death. Life itself is so wonderfully weird and unlikely, why would death be any less so? In response to her questions and fears, I created an afterlife scenario that in time became Dead Girl Diaries.

OBT:

While in university, you studied religion. Have your studies influenced your writing?

MP:

I grew up in a strict Christian family. Studying world religions and theologies at university opened me up to new possibilities, taught me to think beyond the boundaries I had been given, to appreciate and accept other truths and to realize it is okay to question my belief structures – the sky wouldn’t fall down! Dead Girl Diaries has been called a novel of ideas, so my university studies have definitely influenced my writing.

OBT:

Did you have a specific audience in mind when you wrote Dead Girl Diaries?

MP:

Any reader who will eventually die - that pretty much takes up the whole market! Beyond that, any reader with an open mind, a sense of humour and who isn’t offended by a narrative that introduces ideas different from his or her own.

OBT:

Describe your writing process.

MP:

Writing is a way of life for me. I don’t separate it from my everyday existence. I jot down ideas and images in a journal, but I do the actual writing at the computer. Since I can carry my laptop with me that can happen anywhere – and does.

OBT:

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

MP:

Michael Fraser’s collection of poems, The Serenity of Stone, for its description of Canada as a country of people who are from elsewhere - and from here, too. A Vinyl Café book by Stuart McLean for its humourous look at the engaging ordinariness of life in Canada. And Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, a sweetly sad story of family and aging that speaks to both adults and children and, I think, touches upon a love that crosses cultures.

OBT:

Is there a book you should have read but haven't?

MP:

I don’t think of the unread books on my shelves as something I “should” do, but that I look forward with delight to reading in the future. One such book is Images of the USA, A foreign journalist’s memoir by Toronto writer, Ben Antao.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

MP:

I’ve recently finished three novels by Canadian writers, Very Hard Choices by Spider Robinson, Renovating Heaven by Andreas Schroeder and Coventry by Helen Humphries. I’ve just begun a creative non-fiction book by writing guru Anne Lamott, Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith.

OBT:

Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?

MP:

Read lots. It’s how you learn your craft. Write lots. It’s how you polish your craft. Be patient. Keep at it. There are few writers who are overnight successes. If you delve into writers who are “suddenly popular,” you’ll find most of them have been writing for a very long time.

OBT:

What is your next project?

MP:

I’m playing with a “mixed genre” piece – a collection of poems, memoir and short stories connected by theme and imagery. I traveled across Canada by train about five years ago, and I think I’d like to do a book that is a bit like train travel itself. I’ll lay down the track, and see where it takes me.


“Marianne knows how to work words, play with words, toss them across oceans. Just when we think they will land on our outstretched mind, she sends them snapping fingers as they dance off to the horizon.” - The Leaf Literary Journal


Read more about Dead Girl Diaries by Marianne Paul at the BookLand Press website.

Marianne Paul's website is www.mariannepaul.com.

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