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Author Interview: Tanya Chapman

Tanya Chapman's first novel King comes out this month. I emailed her a few questions about the book and her writing life.

1) Firstly, congrats on your book. The descriptions I've read have been quite tantalizing and I'm looking forward to reading it. Publicity copy aside, how do you describe King?

Thanks for the congrats! I've been wanting to publish a novel since forever and I gotta say it feels pretty darn great - I'm on cloud nine.

Describing the book is the scariest question to ask someone who wrote the book - know why? Because it's impossible to break it down for yourself. It's way
easier from the outside.

But that said - for me the book is about that point in your life where you take a good hard look at yourself and decide if you are going to stay on your current track or if you want to shake things up a bit.

I think people do this many different times throughout their lives. It's about trying to act on that decision.

2) What sort of readership do you imagine for your book? One would hope everyone, of course, but do you think there's a sort of person who would be particularly drawn to the sort of story you have to tell?

When I wrote it I didn't have any particular group of people in mind as far as 'readership' goes. I just went head first into it.

I can imagine people in high school getting a kick out of it but I also think that if you have ever stopped to ask yourself the 'what next' question then you will see something in it.

It's also pretty darn accessible - if you like staying in bed on Sunday morning to read a book and drink coffee then you could go through cover to cover.

3) You emerged from the UBC creative writing program, so obviously writing has always been on the agenda. Was there any particular impetus or inspiration for this novel?

The UBC thing was great because you have to write for four years - even in the summer. The programme really well... programmes you. There is no time off from writing so it just stays in your system.

Which hopefully it does anyway but it never hurts to have someone looking over your shoulder saying 'it's due in two weeks.'

King started from a couple of short stories that I put together for a project. I really liked the main character and so it was fun to keep writing about her. The original stories are long edited out of the MS but she's still there.

4) Aside from writing, I notice you also work for the DGC and have made a couple short films. How does writing fit into your day job and how would you describe the relationship between your film work and your fiction?

Working at DGC Ontario is a great gig, I love my job. But let me tell you, it's not glamorous. I mean - we are a labour organization.

I did have a couple of half hours produced and even though I learned a lot I realized that my feet were more firmly planted than ever in fiction.

A movie is really a collaborative beast: there's no one person who owns it and that's thrilling in itself. When you write a screenplay you pretty much have to kiss it goodbye when you hand it over.

But with fiction you can muck around with the words until your heart's content and you can do it on your own
timeline and with no one to veto you. I like that freedom.

5) I know in films there's often a little detail that the filmmaker is in love with that flies under the radar. Is there any such component in King? A passage or character or scene that you're enamoured of?

Hummm good question. I just finished my rewrites and each time I went through I had a new favourite part. I had to cut some of my favourite parts - drat it - but that's the way it goes.

Last time I went through I liked the part where this character hems his pants with a stapler. I used to do
that (okay, I still do but don't tell.)

Tanya Chapman's new novel, King, comes out on the 24th. From Coach House Books


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