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20 Writerly Questions Series: Alissa York

abstract:The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Alissa York. Alissa York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, writer/filmmaker Clive Holden. York's award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and in the collection, Any Given Power, published in 1999. Her first novel, Mercy, published in 2003, was a Canadian bestseller. Dutch, French and US editions have appeared since. York's second novel, Effigy, was published in April 2007, short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. International rights to the book have sold in Holland, Italy, France and the US. Her new novel, Fauna, is on sale on July 27, 2010.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
FAUNA tells the story of the love between a female federal wildlife officer and the owner of a wrecking yard that doubles as a sanctuary for injured urban fauna and other lost souls.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Two and a half years.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My desk -- in fact, it's the only place.
4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I come upon promising names during the research process -- Edal was like that. Darius and Lily, on the other hand, arrived from the ether already named.
5. How many drafts do you go through?
Around a dozen -- the later the draft, the finer the adjustments.


August 23, 2010
6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
DOG BOY by Eva Hornung
7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
I think Paul Bettany would be great as Guy. For Edal, maybe Maggie Gyllenhaal? 
8. What’s your favourite city in the world?
Toronto -- though I was pretty impressed by Copenhagen.
9. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
I might like to ask John Steinbeck about his method for assembling THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and when he knew how it would end.

10. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Never. I need quiet to write -- at times I can be found sporting those protective earmuffs they wear on the tarmac at airports.
11. Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?
My husband.
12. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
I like to re-read the Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse, especially when times are dark -- but I can't say I really feel guilty about it. Sherlock Holmes, too.
13. What’s on your nightstand right now?

14. What is the first book you remember reading?
ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by Dr. Seuss.
15. Did you always want to be a writer?
Only after I ruled out zoologist and actor.
16. What do you drink or eat while you write?
17. Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?
Longhand for the first draft, laptop ever after. br /> 18. What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I told my husband (at a very high pitch).
19. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I tend not to -- it's much more interesting to move around, looking out through various pairs of eyes.
20. What is the best gift someone could give a writer?

Author links

  • Random House's "Author Feature Page" for Alissa York
  • Alissa's Web Page
  • Publisher links:

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  • Previous Authors Asked 20 Writerly Questions

  • Justin Cronin
  • Holly LeCraw
  • Joan Thomas
  • Anosh Irani
  • Yann Martel
  • Joy Fielding
  • Andrew Kaufman
  • Beth Powning


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