Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Interview with Tricia Dower

Today I'm happy to have Tricia Dower stop by and talk about her writing, and her book Stony River. Welcome Tricia and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions!

What were some of the things that influenced your writing over the years?

I didn’t start writing fiction until I retired from business the end of 2001, so I’d say my entire life up to that point influenced my writing. I learned storytelling from my father. He’d hold our family captive at the dinner table for hours as he related funny and sad tales starring colourful characters from his past. Most stories ended with a realization he’d come to or a lesson he’d learned. All the years since then have generated what I find most compelling to write about: the dynamics of intimate relationships, issues of social justice and the beliefs that drive human behaviour. Writers I admire, including Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Ondaatje, Louise Erdrich and Cormac McCarthy, inspire me to keep pushing the limits of my storytelling abilities.

Whose voice was the easiest and whose was the hardest to write?

Miranda’s voice was the most foreign to me. I had to slip into a mystic zone to channel her. She also required the most research, including early twentieth century Irish speech patterns and Irish witchcraft practices. I read (or re-read) many of the books she could have, to imagine what she might think the World outside of her cloistered existence was like. Tereza’s voice was the most fun; I enjoyed being the “bad” girl.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

I see bits and pieces of myself in each of the three main characters as well as in all the others; it’s difficult for me to create a character I can’t identify with to some extent, including a “villain.” Linda’s home life is closest to what mine was growing up but I did not suffer the trauma she does.

Do you plan on revisiting these characters in the future?

You bet. I’m writing a sequel of sorts right now that follows one of the characters from 1965 – 1973.

What are some of your favourite historical fiction novels?

The first historical novel I recall reading was about Anne Boleyn and it affected me deeply. I was maybe twelve and discovered the book in my aunt’s house while on vacation. I was outraged at how Anne suffered at the hands of a selfish, capricious king. I continue to be drawn to novels about injustice. Ones I read years ago that still stick with me are: The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane) and Exodus (Leon Uris); I read the last one in high school because a friend was becoming politicized about issues around her Jewish heritage and wanted me to understand what she was feeling. Although I’ve characterized The Good Earth and The Grapes of Wrath as historical because they offer a window into a significant era, they were contemporary novels when published. I’ve just finished Tamas Dobozy’s powerful Siege 13. A collection, it has the feel of a historical novel because each story reflects the impact of the siege of Budapest during World War II.

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