What is the working title of your book?
A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I can’t pinpoint it to a specific moment where a light bulb went off over my head. I wrote plays. And I wrote stories. Then I wrote some more stories. I'm fascinated with the idea of a kitchen as the heart of a home, as a place of solace and comfort; I never experienced it until I was an adult. I feel like it’s an act of love to be fed a meal, a form of grace to be a guest in someone else’s life, sharing food that way. I think character, relationships, language patterns in dialogue and a recurring curiosity about what sustains people under stress are all subjects that obsess me, and end up surfacing in all of my writing.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a collection of short fiction.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This ends up being a multiple choice question by default, since the book is a collection of short stories. The answer means I get to list some of the actors I love: Shelia McCarthy and Sarah Polley. Stockard Channing and Ellen Page. Eric Peterson and Russell Tovey. I’m pairing them off like salt and pepper shakers, or like I’m Noah and this here’s my Ark of acting duets. John Heard, Chris Messina, Bonnie Hunt. I can’t remember who said lists have an incantatory quality but I’ll stop there.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love is populated by quirky characters who blend desire, imperfect love and comfort food into the sweet and salty mix of daily life while they yearn for the sustenance of human connection.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m thrilled to announce that Mother Tongue Publishing will issue the book in November 2013. Jan Westendorp designed the beautiful cover.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This is really difficult to answer, not only because I perceive this as a math question (and my brain refuses to compute) but also because variations of these stories have been with me for years. I started some while I was in school, others on my own. Initially, I wrote and produced plays for the Fringe Festival, and these fiction pieces were part of the evolution of my writing process. Over the years, I sent them out to magazines and competitions; one was published and another won a Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Award. Now that they’re all going to be together in a book, I am incredibly excited.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Can I plead the fifth? I know. Wrong country and completely wrong context but still. Can someone else answer this for me? The short answer is, I am awestruck and giddy in the presence of books and other writers, and it just feels like arrogance to compare myself to anyone. When I worked in a book store, I was terrible at the whole "If you liked this book, you might like that writer" coconut shell game. I don't know. Let's skip to the next question about writers and books I love.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is similar to the idea question. Like everyone, I'm inspired by the writers I read. I am a big fan of Aimee Bender's work, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a novel I'm still thinking about. Years ago, I came across Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto and loved it, that book really comforted me. I also loved Lust & Other Stories by Susan Minot, which I read around the time I started writing fiction. The first book I ever remember giving me hunger pangs was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I kept salivating (and crying) when I read about Charlie savouring the chocolate. I desperately wanted to eat the sweets Roald Dahl created in that book, it's my first memory of the powerful pull of the taste sense on the page. I think some of my favourite movies call on this childhood craving: Chocolat, Babette's Feast, Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink Man Woman.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Can I ask a reader and get back to you on this? Actually, click on the title tab and you'll see what Wayde Compton, Fiona Tinwei Lam and Ayelet Tsabari have written about it. I am honoured and overwhelmed by their comments.
The game is afoot! Follow these links to read what these writers have written about The Next Big Thing. Go on. You know you want to. Dinner can wait.
Andrea Thompson Andrea's debut novel will be released in 2014 by Inanna Publications.
Beverley Cooper Bev is a brilliant playwright, and a fellow classmate from the MFA at Guelph.
Jennifer Irvine Jennifer is another fabulous graduate of The Writer's Studio at SFU.
Kathy Friedman Kathy is an award winning writer, currently at work on a linked collection of short stories called All the Shining People.
Melinda Mayor Melinda was my bridesmaid for a year. (Yes, you read that right.) She sings, writes, performs and is all-around lovely.
The Next Big Thing by other writers I want you to meet.
Ayelet Tsabari, Becky Blake, Jan Redford, Terri Favro, Nancy Jo Cullen, Jessica Kluthe
You can also introduce yourself to the work of Wayde Compton and Fiona Tinwei Lam.