Wednesday, October 26, 2011

20 Writerly Questions for… Ami McKay

Ami McKay's work has aired on CBC radio's Maritime Magazine, This Morning, OutFront, and The Sunday Edition. Her documentary, Daughter of Family G, won an Excellence in Journalism Meallion at the 2003 Atlantic Journalism Awarsd. When she moved with her family to Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, she learned that their new home was once known as the birth house. It inspired her to write the bestseller, The Birth House. Her latest book is The Virgin Cure.

How would you summarize your book in one sentence? A Dickens meets Wharton meets the Brothers Grimm tale in which a girl on the streets of 1870's New York struggles to beat the odds.

How long did it take you to write this book? Three years (although quite a lot of that time was devoted to research.)

Where is your favorite place to write? In the loft of my barn in Nova Scotia.

How do you choose your characters’ names? I collect names from archives and gravestones and then mix and match them to suit the story.

How many drafts do you go through? Too many to count.

If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be? I can't think of a book I'd like to have written word for word, but the premise of Nabokv's "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight" is absolutely brilliant and I wish I'd thought of it first.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it? A yet to be discovered actress as Moth, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Dr. Sadie.

What’s your favourite city in the world? NYC

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask? Shakespeare. "Did you, or didn't you?"

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind? As I'm working on a novel, I create a playlist for the story and characters. The playlist for The Virgin Curehas a lot of music from the time period on it - mostly Civil War era songs and Stephen Foster tunes, like "Slumber My Darling" and "Hard Times Come Again No More."

Who is the first person who gets to you read your manuscript? My husband.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read? Not really. I don't think reading should bring on guilt. I can read just about anything and get something from it - the manual for a computer game or even the back of a cereal box can suck me in, bringing on all kinds of questions. Someone, somewhere took the time to write that copy and I often wonder what that person's life is like. Do they believe in the product? Do they use it, eat it, consume it, etc.? Do they enjoy their work?

What’s on your nightstand right now? The Immortal Life of Hennrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

What is the first book you remember reading? The Secret Garden.

Did you always want to be a writer? No, between the ages of 5-15, I thought I'd end up singing on a Broadway stage.

What do you drink or eat while you write? Green tea, popcorn, clementines, raw almonds and dark chocolate.

Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper? I always begin with a fountain pen on paper, then I type what's on those pages into my laptop so I can move things around and edit the story.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time? I stood in the middle of my kitchen and jumped up and down. Then I called my mom.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from? I make an initial decision knowing that it may not be the right one and start writing. As the story unfolds, I try writing a portion of it (usually the first few pages) from different points of view. Then I read a few pages of each version out loud to see which one feels the strongest and has the best cadence.

What is the best gift someone could give a writer? Patience. Knowing that the person I love most in the world has the patience to deal with my being distracted, (day in and day out) by the world I'm building on the page means everything to me.

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