Writers' Rooms: Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Gail Anderson-Dargatz

(c) Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Today is Mother's Day and anyone looking at my office can tell I'm a mom. The window of my writing room overlooks my children's play area inthe backyard, so I can work in my office while keeping an eye on my kids as they play. My desk is covered in the "gifts" my children bring me every couple of minutes: dandelions and forget-me-nots, rocks, leaves, dead beetles (and a few lives ones), scraps of paper that say "I love you" or, from my four year old, scribbles that, alarmingly, closely resemble my own handwriting. Many of their drawings and notes make it to the bulletin board I keep in my office for this purpose. Right now, among the Mother's Day cards, there is a scrap of notepaper that simply says "mom." This is the first word my four year old learned to write by herself, and she accomplished this feat just this week.

Once upon a time, before I had children, my office and library encompassed the entire upper floor of my home. I thought that I couldn't possibly write without the luxury of an eight hour work day, free of distractions. Now my office is a reflection of my changed life: we have four kids, and we need every room, and so my office is in a hallway at the back of the house. The children slip in and out of the backyard to their rooms through my office, so to say my writing day is full of interruptions is an understatement. I now write whenever I can snatch five minutes. Does it drive me crazy? You have no idea. But now that I'm used to it, I wouldn't have it any other way (well, most days). The kid clutter outside my office window, the kid interruptions, the kid stuff that covers my desk as I write just serves to remind me of what - who - I really do this for.


Gail Anderson-Dargatz, whose fictional style has been coined as "Pacific Northwest Gothic" by the Boston Globe, has been published worldwide in English and in many other languages. A Recipe for Bees and The Cure for Death by Lighting were international bestsellers, and were both finalists for the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada. The Cure for Death by Lightning won the UK's Betty Trask Prize among other awards. A Rhinestone Button was a national bestseller in Canada and her first book, The Miss Hereford Stories, was shortlisted for the Leacock Award for humour. Her latest novel is Turtle Valley, a national bestseller. She currently teaches fiction in the optional-residency creative writing MFA program at the University of British Columbia, and lives in the Shuswap, the landscape found in so much of her writing. Visit her website and forum at: http://www.gailanderson-dargatz.ca/