What has been your favorite or most unusual experience at a reading or a literary festival?
Hands down, the prize for the most unusual thing to happen at one of my readings took place during an audience Q & A back in 2001 when I was touring my first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence. This was a book about mental health and mother/daughter relationships. It featured a psychic single mother who found missing children for the police. The discussion veered from the book's central themes and characters when a man in the audience took the microphone and complimented me on the writing of the birthing scene in my novel. He went on to share with the rest of us that he watched birthing videos and experienced them as highly erotic, much in the same way, he said, that other men watched porn. He took time to graphically detail what he found most exciting, as mothers in the audience cringed and squirmed in their seats. When I focussed him on his question the man finally asked whether I thought men experienced womb envy the way women (according to Freud) experienced penis envy? Needless to say, I was at a loss for words.
If someone loves your latest book, what would you recommend they read next?
If readers enjoyed Matadora I'm guessing they would also enjoy other novels featuring strong female protagonists. A Canadian choice would be In Calamity's Wake, by Natalee Caple. Our styles are very different, and Natalee's book has more of an academic influence to its research, but both novels feature women who buck convention. Similarly, Robert Hough's first novel, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark might appeal. Finally, UK writer, Jeanette Winterson's novel, Lighthousekeeping.
What books might we be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Normal Doidge. I am fascinated by neuroplasticity and what it might mean for human creativity. And Perhaps Vladimir Nabakov, Alphabet in Colour.
What are you most looking forward to in coming to this year’s Vancouver Writers Fest?
This will be my first time attending the Festival. I am very much looking forward to spending time surrounded by writers and stunning scenery. I lived in Vancouver for one year, in the early 1990's, and have been back only twice since then. The city and I have both changed, I'm sure, but I'm eager to see how we fit now. I will be making a special effort to attend events headlined by writers from New Zealand, China and the UK. Wonderful to have the opportunity to hear these international voices. Oh, and if it's still there, having a slice of chocolate banana cream pie at that place on Denman!