I love book clubs! Here are some questions asked by a book club in Newfoundland, and answered by the author (me).
Q. How did you research/ learn about the acceptance/ or not of ‘white’ art in a native community. I wondered how in a community that has such divisions would the introduction of an ‘outsiders’ art be accepted?
A. My experience/research is that they work side by side doing their own thing and admiring each other’s art. China wasn’t on the island long enough to be an artistic threat. Sam was considered to be much more of a threat to the status quo.
Q. Did you receive any feedback (positive/ negative) from the native community about the book?
A. Grimshaw Island doesn’t exist, therefore neither does the native population on that island. So far I have heard only one comment from an Inuit who had nothing but praise. My publisher did very little to market Liar beyond the shores of Newfoundland.
Q. Sam and China had a very complicated relationship. Do you feel that marriage (because of all the mundane/day to day activities that it usually must address) is doomed to be complicated/confining?
A. I wouldn’t compare their marriage to anyone else’s because Sam is not “normal”. Generally speaking, I have rarely seen a truly happy marriage but they do exist and are a delight to behold.
Q. Were Sam and China’s woes due to a “mixed” marriage? Sam’s unconventional behaviour?
A. A “mixed” marriage had nothing to do with their woes. Unconventional behaviour can often be exciting and productive. However the disease of the pathological liar and the resulting manipulation is injurious to everyone concerned. You may not be aware that a pathological liar is mentally disturbed and there is no magic pill to cure this disease. They are are often very intelligent and run the gamut of behaviour from charming liars to serial killers.
Q. What role did China play in the relationship’s demise?
A. Her innocently written journals played an important role. Daily self-examination – the constant recording of inner and outer events will always reveal the truth even if you would rather avoid it. It is much easier to alter or forget unwritten memories. For obvious reasons, Sam felt threatened by China’s secret scribbles. China was only doing what she had always done – chronicle her daily life. She didn’t know that it would turn into a record of Sam’s deceit. When China realized it was impossible to fix Sam, the only other solution was to fix herself.
Q. Your book “Liar” contains both poetry and prose. Have you ever written a book of poetry?
A. I have written hundreds of poems but it is a very different market, extremely subjective and selective. Very few people buy poetry books – it’s hard enough selling novels. And I really enjoy using my poetry as a natural extension of the prose. As in a musical, it is writing a song that comments on the previous scene elevating the emotion or action to another level.
Q. The general consensus from our book club is that everyone loved or liked the book (believe me that is not always so)! This book contains great sex, deceit, love, betrayal and even humour and these are often found in many other books. What do you feel sets your book apart from other stories?
A. The journal entries and poetry. I have read a book a week since puberty and I have encountered very little written sex (by women) or prose that combines sex with humour. It’s as though people are afraid of laughing in bed.
Q. When I read Liar I had the feeling (like I did when I first heard the song Maggie May by Rod Stewart) that a person would have to live through /experience some of this in order to write about it. Your comments?
A. I lived with a pathological liar but LIAR is not an as-it-happened tale. LIAR is 50% true and 50% fiction. The journal entries are mostly true except for occasional manipulation for the flow of the story. I invented much of the novel and the invention was pure, exhilarating FUN.
Q. I loved the ending! Was it planned from the beginning or did it somehow evolve as you wrote the book?
A. The end evolved when I got there. Once the characters are fleshed out and the structure is established (the hardest part) you can then fly with ease to the end and exact whatever delicious revenge you prefer. It’s not a good idea to cross a writer.
Q. Newfoundland has produced many talented actors, authors, singers, etc. How do you feel growing up in Newfoundland influenced your talents?
A. Growing up in a small town gives you room to develop and make mistakes in front of a nurturing audience without the intimidation of big city energy and too much competition. Of course the downside is that there is not a large enough population to sustain the performing arts and you may have to leave to make it big. That being said – I did not leave Newfoundland for my career – I left because I was pregnant and in love with a Frenchman from Montreal. But that’s another book (a memoir) that I hope will soon be published. Your book club will be one of the first to know when that lucky day arrives.
Q. How did you “find” acting? Do you still act today?
A. I do a lot of acting as I write. I speak out loud when writing dialogue. I laugh, cry, get angry, etcetera. I am always working on at least two levels. I still work occasionally in film as a background actor (for fun) and sometimes I’m cast in a larger role.
Q. The book states that you sing, dance, act and of course write. Which is your passion?
A. All of them. I am passionate about everything that involves creating something out of nothing. I did not enjoy frequent employment as a secretary, but I always did a good job and I appreciated the steady paycheque.
Q. China and Sam meet, marry, and move to the end of the world. You do not use many lines to convince us why an independent and experienced middle-age woman marries a man she barely knows and moves away from everything that is dear to her. I thought this was a weak link in the story and would like to know why you did not spend more time on making that part of the story stronger. I liked the explicit physical scenes between them but that is not enough to justify a marriage.
A. If I explain it all up front, why bother reading to find out why? Hopefully by the end of the book you will understand (if not believe) that great sex is a very seductive narcotic. Also, China is an artist and those blessed (or cursed) with abundant creativity often take risks that less creative people would never dream of taking. You are correct that physical love will not sustain a marriage – as it could not sustain China’s marriage to Sam. Her life experience and courage helped her get out of a bad situation relatively quickly.