The libraries of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry have started a community program called SDG Reads. The residents of the United Counties are encouraged to read the same book, discuss it, and then meet the author. The first book chosen was Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay. The Meet the Author event was held last night at North Stormont Place in Avonmore, Ontario.
Elizabeth Hay has written five novels. A Student of Weather was a Giller Prize finalist and a Governor-General’s Award for Fiction finalist; Late Nights on Air won the Giller Prize in 2007; His Whole Life is currently on the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for 2015.
At the Q & A session, Hay spoke about the writing process. Here are some of her comments about various aspects of writing:
“I do not consider myself a great researcher.” She does a bit of research to feed her imagination.
She does not make a plan for a novel. She makes a map as she drives.
The best writing comes from the deepest emotions.
Her characters are inspired by people she has met or heard about. “All you need is a few clues and you flesh out the rest.”
A writer observes his/her characters and they may surprise by doing unpredictable things, though not things out of character.
A writer must let characters out from under his/her judgmental thumb.
Every character, even the most stupid, must be more intelligent than the writer.
A writer needs to see things from multiple points of view so one can learn generosity by writing fiction.
Advice to any budding novelist: Write from the heart but be willing to do the work. Writing doesn’t get easier with each novel. Each novel has its own needs.
It was a very successful event with a great deal of audience interaction. I am eager to hear about the next novel chosen for the program.
Note: I reviewed His Whole Life on August 18.