What has been your favorite or most unusual experience at a reading or a literary festival?
Given the…well…the rather adult-oriented and explicitly-raw sexual nature of my most recent book of poetry (Geographies of a Lover), I was very surprised to have once been paired with a children's author for a reading at local bookstore in a smaller BC community. In addition to not being interested in insulting anyone's sensibilities (especially those of a seven-year old!), and also wanting my writing to resonate with an audience, I just elected to side step poetry that evening and read some new creative non-fiction essays, including one about the death of a family dog. That seemed to be pretty well-received, although someone did observe that it was still "pretty harsh" for an audience that had come, in part, to hear readings by an up-beat children's author!
If someone loves your latest book, what would you recommend they read next?
If they've not already done so, Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a must. Although it might not be an 'expected' suggestion given Geographies of a Lover's dialogues with literatures that engage women's sexuality from a feminist and ecological perspective, I'm a great fan of paired-down, bruised-up, muscular and masculine short fiction. To this end, I fully recommend Living In Water by Jess Walters, Once You Break a Knuckle by D. W. Wilson, Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson and (of course!) short stories and poetry by Raymond Carver.
What books might we be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
I may have just answered that question (see above) but, along the same lines, people have expressed some surprise about the number of noir detective fiction books I own. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett is still one of my favourite all time books, as is Double Indemnity by James Cain. Once or twice when people drop over who don't know that my "day job" is working in a faculty of medicine, there's surprise expressed at the number of textbooks I own on medical humanities, medical education, and working with health professionals!
What are you most looking forward to in coming to this year’s Vancouver Writers Fest? (a writer, an event, a local experience etc.)
All if it! Honestly – I'm no good at prioritizing and I'm just really thrilled at the idea of being part of the absolutely inspirational assemblage of writers and events.