Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Authors

Last night, I enjoyed listening to three authors--Ami McKay, Wayne Johnston, Anita Rau Badami--at Norfolk United Church in downtown Guelph.

Ami McKay read from the prologue of her latest book, The Virgin Cure. This is McKay's followup novel to her highly successful debut, The Birth House. Set in New York City's Lower East Side during the 1870s, The Virgin Cure was inspired by McKay's great-great-grandmother, Dr. Sadie Fonda Macintosh, who practiced street medicine in the slums. McKay had intended to write the book in her grandmother's voice, but while writing, she began to hear the words of a very different character, a twelve year old girl named Moth.

Wayne Johnston's humour and Newfoundland roots were evident as he talked about his writing journey and his latest book, A World Elsewhere. Set in Manhattan and Rhode Island during the late nineteenth century, Johnston was inspired to write the book after a series of extended visits to George Vanderbilt's estate. Although Johnston draws upon the historical existence of the Vanderbilt family, A World Elsewhere is fiction.

Anita Rau Badami is one of my favourite authors. I have read many of her books and enjoyed listening to her read from her latest, Tell it to the Trees. She was inspired to write the book after visiting an Indian family in a small, isolated town in Northern British Columbia. There was tension in the home and one of rumours about the family stayed with Badami. Apparently, the older woman had locked her husband out during a cold winter night, and he had frozen to death. In Tell it to the Trees, the story begins with the discovery of a tenant's frozen body in the backyard of the Dharma family's isolated home.

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