Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Karen X. Tulchinsky

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Karen Tulchinsky

Karen Tulchinsky is the author of three novels, a collection of short stories and has been featured in countless literary anthologies. She has won a VanCity Book Prize, the One Book One Vancouver Prize and has been a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. Tulchinsky has also had a successful career writing for television and film. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Her most recent book is Love Ruins Everything, first published in 1998, being re-released by Insomniac Press.

Tulchinsky will be appearing at two events in Toronto: a reading at the Toronto Women's Bookstore on Sunday, October 23 at 4:30 pm (click here for details), and the Insomniac Fall Launch party at the Dora Keogh pub on Monday, October 24 at 7:00 pm (click here for details).

Tulchinsky talks with Open Book about re-releasing a novel, writing for the screen and writing the lesbian Woody Allen.

Open Book:

Tell us about your book, Love Ruins Everything.

Karen Tulchinsky:

The novel was written in the midst of a breakup. Comedy is pain, plus time. I decided to deal with heartbreak by writing about it in a comedic way. The main character Nomi was loosely based on myself and my experience at the time. She’s a lesbian Woody Allen, bumbling her way through life with the help of her friends in San Francisco and her exuberant Jewish family in Toronto. Meanwhile, her cousin Henry, an HIV positive activist is involved in ACTOUT, a group committed to exposing the real origin of AIDS.


What prompted the decision to publish a re-issue?


Love Ruins Everything went out of print when Raincoast discontinued their publishing program. No author wants any of her books to be out of print. When Insomniac Press offered to reissue it, I jumped at the chance, especially to have a title with one of Canada’s most prestigious literary presses.


Looking at the book now, do you feel your style or approach has changed since writing Love Ruins Everything?


I can write in different styles. My novel, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, which won the One Book One Vancouver prize in 2008 is an historical novel, a sweeping family drama, set in the 1930’s and ‘40’s, so it’s written in a more serious tone. But Love Ruins Everything was always meant to be the first book in a trilogy. The second is Love and Other Ruins, which was published in 2003 and I am currently working on the third in the series.


Which of your characters did you most identify with while writing the book?


Both Nomi and Henry are based on different parts of myself, though they are fictional characters and to ramp up the humour, I exaggerated some of their qualities. I am much more suave with women, for example, than Nomi is.


Who are some people who have deeply influenced (fellow writers or not) your writing life?


The great First Nations writer Lee Maracle was one of my early writing mentors. Screenwriter Peggy Thompson (Better Than Chocolate) has also mentored me. My grandfather, Berel, was a natural story teller.


Is there a book you’ve read recently that you wished you had written?


Marge Piercy’sGone to Soliders”, Sarah Schulman’sPeople in Trouble,” and “Mila 18” by Leon Uris.


What are you working on now?


My next novel, “The Shoemaker’s Daughter”, which is set between 1941 and 1977 in Russia, Vancouver and Jerusalem. I also have several screenplays in development with acclaimed Toronto director, Clement Virgo. I recently directed a short film, Ms Thing, which has screened at over 20 film festivals internationally and won audience choice award at QueerFruits in Australia.

Karen X. Tulchinsky is an award-winning novelist and screen and television writer. Her first book, the collection of short stories, In Her Nature, won the VanCity Book Prize, BC's largest literary award. Her latest novel, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, was the winner of the 2008 OneBook One Vancouver prize and a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

For more information about Love Ruins Everything please visit the Insomniac Press website.

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

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