Saturday, July 31, 2010

Amy Jones Interviewed

Over at Salty Ink, Danila Botha interviews Amy Jones.

I think that most fiction is really just piecing together little bits of reality in different ways.”

Amy Jones ( is a fantastic writer. Her first book, a collection of stories called What Boys Like is the most exciting book I’ve read in ages- a diverse group of utterly convincing, uniquely voiced characters whose pain, restlessness and triumphs are entirely relatable, and whose voices are fresh and vital. Both the dialogue and internal monologues are spot on.

I had the chance to chat with her recently about her writing process, inspirations and what she loves about writing short stories.

1) You write from so many perspectives so well- from the perspective of a young kid living with her teenage mom in How To Survive Summer in the City (I loved that story, it cracked my heart open) In A good girl, from the perspective of a waiter, Alex, who is in love with a much younger woman, in Miriam Beachwalker, a teen trying to figure out who she is and what she wants from life, and a girl who realizes how unrequited her love is in All We Will Ever Be. Do you find it difficult to get into different character’s minds? It reads so seamlessly. What is the process like for you? How do you get the characters to seem so relatable, so real and so human?

Well, for one thing, I spend a lot of time people watching. I’m kind of obsessed with what’s going on in other people’s lives, and I’m always wondering “What’s that single mother at the grocery store thinking?” Or “What’s that guy with the super young girlfriend thinking?” My stories are all attempts to answer those questions.

For the rest of Danila's interview please go here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The End of the Ice Age

It has taken far too long for this collection to get its first review. Disappointing, because it is such a strong collection. Mark Anthony Jarman has said, of Young's first collection, that Young "assembles the silhouettes of a loopy suburb nation. He is our seeing-eye dog." He could just as easily have said the same of this one. Yet, for my money -- and I suppose it was that -- this is a far stronger collection than Rhymes with Useless. Taut, mature, merciless -- yes, Terence, merciless -- memorable. You should pick up a copy today.

So at least the first review of the book is bordering on a rave. From the Victoria Times Colonist:

The End of the Ice Age is a collection for adults, by which I mean that these characters have usually lived long enough to know -- though not to behave -- better. ... Call the stories summer reading for those who haven't forgotten the winter. ... In this world, speech is a dangerous substance, both vulnerable and volatile. Dialogue usually signals conflict... Flirting is sparring. ... The best stores in Ice Age maintain Young's mordant gaze, but their humour becomes something more profound than self-laceration. It is a way to point to, if not always to reach, the possibility of intimacy. ... In any case, the short stories in The End of the Ice Age are the perfect length. In 10 to 15 pages, there is space for everything a story needs to do, if you know how to do it as Terence Young does.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Open Book interviews K.D.Miller

Over at Open Book Toronto, Thom Vernon interviews K. D. Miller about Brown Dwarf, Alice Munro, writing, and much else.

I've been stalking K.D. Miller since pretty soon after I arrived in Toronto and came upon her "Semper Alicia" — a short story about an Alice Munro book club in southwestern Ontario — in New Quarterly. Although I've never actually met K.D. face-à-face, she is quite gracious and has, so far, always answered my emails. I'm thrilled that she was willing to let me in on murder, e-books and passing the sugar.

1. Mind telling us about yourself? Where do you come from and what part, if any, does this play in your writing?

I was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1951. I would almost be tempted to say that those bits of information – where and when – brand me. What could possibly affect us more than time and place? Not that I am in any way limited to writing about or as a Recovering Hamiltonian Baby Boomer. I do have an imagination, and it is free to roam. But there is no doubt that I mine my own past for fictional material, and that I keep returning to it. And I confess that I am puzzled by writers who claim to put “nothing personal” into their writing, to make it all up out of whole cloth. Excuse me? Cloth is a weave. Where did the warp and weft come from?

2. You make juggling hilarity (Semper Alicia) & suspense (Brown Dwarf) look easy, what’s your secret?

Humour is all about suspense. Timing – or lack of it – can make or break a joke. And when you’re waiting for a punch line, you’re tense – even a little scared. I would compare it to the feeling of waiting to be caught in a game of hide-and-go-seek. Another thing the two have in common, from the standpoint of writing a funny or suspenseful scene, is difficulty and delicacy. They’re like a dance, or a balancing act. One false step...
As for my secret, well, I was very lucky to grow up in a household where the atmosphere alternated between hilarious and scary. (I suspect now that one of my parents was bipolar.) Not the most tranquil of upbringings, but a goldmine for a writer.

3. 1962 was a big year: Cuban Missiles erupted, Marilyn Monroe died and Bernstein dissed Gould at the Philharmonic. What gives about that year and Brown Dwarf?

It’s that Baby-Boomer thing again, I’m afraid. Oh, I know – every generation thinks that its own coming-of-age year was the year. But in 1962, I really was more or less the age of the two girls in Brown Dwarf. And twelve is a very important age. While I was writing the book, I had a stick-note on the wall above my desk that said, THEY ARE TWELVE. Whenever things started to veer into what seemed improbable or even just unlikely (the two of them going hunting for a serial killer, for example) I would look up at my stick-note, and just carry on. When you’re twelve, anything is possible.
As for the importance of 1962 globally, it was very much a cusp year. Soon, the Beatles would explode on the scene. Soon, Kennedy would be dead. For Boomers at least, two defining phenomena.

for the rest, please go here.