Yann Martel – Author


“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”  ~ Yann MartelLife of Pi

Today’s Author of the Week is a bit different. Since I did not have an interview which I conducted, I decided to go with the author of the latest book I read and fell in love with:  Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi.

Life of Pi tells the story of a 16-year-old boy’s survival, after being cast on a lifeboat when the cargo ship his family was on sank into the Pacific.  Written like no other book I have read before, Yann Martel’s style and story telling allowed me to truly expand my love for reading, because reading his book was like taking a walk in a totally different part of the world.  I am now enlightened and inspired.

About Yann Martel

Yann Martel is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize– winning novel Life of Pi.

Martel was born on June 25th 1963 in Salamanca, Spain, the son of Nicole Perron and Emile Martel. His parents were French-Canadian. His father was posted as a diplomat for the Canadian government at the time of his birth. He was raised in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and Canada. As an adolescent he attended high school at Trinity College School, a boarding school in Port HopeOntario.

As an adult, Martel has spent time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, and doing various odd jobs -tree planting, dishwashing, working as a security guard,  Martel spent 13 months in India visiting masjids, churches, temples and zoos, and spent two years reading religious texts and castaway stories. His first published fictional work, Seven Stories, appeared in 1993.

In addition to Life of Pi, Martel is the prize-winning author ofThe Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, a collection of short stories, and of Self, a novel, both published internationally. Yann has been living from his writing since the age of 27. He divides his time between yoga, writing and volunteering in a palliative care unit. Yann Martel lives in Montreal with his wife and children.

 

A few questions from here and there

When asked on an online chat interview how long it took to write the Life of Pi, Yann answers: 

“I did research for six months in India, practical research, then I read on zoos, animal psychology, religions and castaway stories for about a year and a half back in Canada.Then I wrote the thing out. Took me about 1 1/2 years to get to a draft. So 4 years in all. But I loved every minute.”

A question I often ask to the Authors I interview:  Do you have a particular writing routine?

“I have no particular routine. When I’m actually writing, as opposed to researching, I sort of write all day, in a quite inefficient way, mind you, but all day. Which doesn’t mean that I write much. A good day will mean half a page. But I’m in no rush, so I don’t mind my slow pace.” 

When asked:  “When did you decide to become a writer, how did you take that first step?”

“I’d say writing chose me rather than the other way around. It was really the last thing on my list, the only thing that worked for me, that gave me a sense of meaning. I started writing in 2nd year university, when I hadn’t a clue where I was going in life. I wrote a dreadful play, truly something  God awful, but I loved creating, I loved creating a stage and peopling it and giving things to say and do.”

In an interview with BookBrowse, Yann was asked this question, which I think rocks (the Q & the A)

Why the three religions in your book?

“The three religions because I wanted to discuss faith, not organized religion, so wanted to relativize organized religion by having Pi practice three. I would have like PI to be a Jew, too, to practice Judaism, but there are two religions that are explicitly incompatible: Christianity and Judaism. Where one begins, the other ends, according to Christians, and where one endures, the other strays, according to Jews.”

Yann continues to say that he IS a religious person.. in his words:

“.. in a very broad way, and riven with doubts, which is what keeps faith alive, I believe.  I go to mass every Sunday, but love going to mosques too. Muslims pray in a beautiful way.”

People connect with the book in such a personal way because…

 “..(1)  it’s a great yarn, and (2), it goes deep, talks about spirituality in a real, serious, concrete way, untainted by cynicism.

Last but not least, Yann gives his tips to aspiring authors:

“Get it down on the page. Work hard. And then let go. Ask yourself why you want to write. You have to be clear about that.”

If you have not yet read Life of Pi, I highly recommend it.  The book made me think, it made me shudder, it made me cheer Pi Patel on!  I wanted him to survive, to come back, to tell his story, and in the end… he surely did!

Sources:

FictionAddiction.net

WikipediA

GoodReads

BookBrowse

If you are an author, and you wish to be interviewed, please send me your press info, bio and website at kim.larocque@sympatico.ca

My son is actively looking for sponsors to get him to camp this summer.  Summer camp is something William looks forward to every year and it is so good for his self-esteem.  This year I am on sick leave (due to my depression diagnosis), and being a single parent family, you can imagine I cannot put up the whole amount.  Anything you can give would be greatly appreciated.  I’ll even throw in a Dream Interpretation whenever you have a dream!!    Here is a link :

Camp Sponsorships

In Support Of Quebec Student Protests


I feel strongly in support the Quebec student protests and agree “The issue is bigger than tuition fees. It is a question of re-establishing democracy. There is no democracy. We are closer to totalitarianism. Decisions are made without listening to the people.” !

Carry On Dancing – Heather Grace Stewart


I am happy to introduce to you Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Poet.  This week, I asked Heather if she would accept an interview for my blog and she graciously accepted.  Just last night Heather found out that her book Carry On Dancing is currently #2 in bestselling Canadian Poetry on Amazon.ca.  Congratulations!

About Heather Grace

Heather Grace Stewart is the author of two poetry collections, ‘Leap,’ and ‘Where the Butterflies Go,’ and two non-fiction books for youth. Her third collection, ‘Carry On Dancing,” is published by Winter Goose Publishing, which was made available in March 2012. A member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets, she lives with her family in Montreal, Canada.

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An interesting fact: 

“Heather wrote her first poem at age five, inspired by falling down a lot while trying to figure skate. At the Arena was published in her school newsletter. (ref:  Winter Goose Publishing)

The Interview

Describe yourself in 5 words

Bubbly, creative, passionate, adventurous, spirited

How did you come to live your passion?

It’s been a lifelong process, and I am still growing every day.

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young child. I loved writing poems and short stories for Mrs. Nash’s grade 2 class. I thought journalism was the route for me, and I did love working at a paper and for magazines, but I felt I wasn’t able to be as creative as I wanted to. In 1999 I decided to forge ahead on my own, with my freelance writing  and editing business, Graceful Publications. By working from home as a freelance journalist, I found I had more time to try creative writing projects on the side,  and that’s how my poetry books were published. Last year it became an official publishing company too, with the release of my first children’s book, The Groovy Granny, which I wrote with our then-five-year old daughter, who illustrated the poems. I still write and take photos for magazines, but I’m focusing on creating books right now, because it’s what I most love to do.

That was the technical answer to how it all came to be, but the process of deciding that I deserve to do what I love every day was a long one. I don’t think it was until my  friend and mentor died of a brain tumor when I was 24 that I realized, truly realized, that I wanted to live every day as if it were my last. Now, I can’t throw my caution with money or my own health or anything out the window, as if I may die tomorrow,  but I do try to treat each day like it could be my last. I try to leap at unique opportunities (like working for myself). I try to learn something new or try something new every day. I try to send friends snail mail and surprises and if they call, I call  right back so I won’t forget. If I catch myself losing my patience with my daughter, I’ll go apologize to her a few minutes later, so she knows parents aren’t perfect. I sometimes forget and slip back into taking days for granted, but it’s almost a way of life for me now, and I think it has made a great difference.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to play with my daughter and husband. We do a lot of gardening and flea-marketing in the summer, but we kind of hibernate in winter. We toboggan some times, but our daughter likes creative games like playing ‘spa’ – soaking my feet in a bowl of sea salts by the fire! – and I am just fine with that! In my own free time, I love to inline skate, take photos, scrapbook, cartoon, and I just love walking along a  beach,looking for pretty shells, sand dollars, and other tiny miracles.

Where does your creativity come from?

For me, it’s a bit like a natural water cycle. There’s the source, which is inside my heart and soul and mind, always ready to be tapped into, and a constantly flowing stream, but that can get interrupted by dams – like my own laziness or self doubt or just a really rotten week. But when  it’s flowing, the water or my creative work eventually moves up and is spread out into the clouds, until it all returns to the earth as rain, and, the cycle continues.

What book struck you as a child and why?

A friend gave me a hard cover copy of The Neverending Story for my 11th birthday. I remember pouring over it many times, especially up in my tree fort. I liked the story line -the boy was bullied but he managed to overcome that – and I loved how the real world was written in green ink and the fantasy world was in red ink. It was magical; and that’s how I think books should be.

What is the last book you absolutely couldn’t put down?

“Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks. When I am writing poetry, I try to stay away from poetry, because I want to do completely my own thing, so right now, I’m reading quick-read-fluff-fiction. I do enjoy autobiographies and there’s a series of books by physicist Michio Kaku about the physics of the future and the physics of parallel worlds that I’m finding so fascinating, but with my recent book release I’ve been in need of very easy, mentally easy you know? reads at night, to just unwind. Safe Haven was predictable in its characterization and how the  story was resolved – by now we all know what to expect from Sparks – but the plot was a little more mysterious and darker than his usual work. I liked that. I love studying his work, because I’d like to try writing a romance novel one day. One day!

Who inspires you?

My parents and grandparents inspire me – they’re just damned good  people. My daughter and husband make me laugh, and that always inspires my work. I’m inspired as a writer by so many poets ~ Frost, Thoreau, Sara Teasdale, Mary Oliver ~ but mainly by people who took/are taking brave stands: Terry Fox, Rosa Parks, our war veterans, the single parents of 911 babies. Their stories remind me not to be a wimp when I’m having troubles writing a piece, or achieving any kind of goal. I think of them and I say to myself, Suck it Up, Buttercup!

Can you tell us about your new book?

Carry On Dancing is out in bookstores and on Amazon.com and bn.com now! It’s a book of poetry that I wrote in the last year and a half. It’s a mixture of poems about the world we live in – the world of Twitter and war and tsunamis and money-hungry marketers – set against our private worlds – those of our loves, our loss, our partnerships – and how we can balance both worlds and carry on dancing, through it all.

Where did the inspiration for the book cover come from?

I took that shot on our daughter’s fifth birthday. We’d just made this colourful tutu for her together after school (it was really easy- from a kit! I’m a poet, not a seamstress) and as she put it on and started twirling around, I started snapping away. I have such happy memories from that day.

What are your future projects

I have a lot of projects in the works. I have an illustrator finishing up my children’s bed time story; I’m working on my next book of poems but I’m going to take my time at that one, and I’m thinking about writing a novel. I’m also open to opportunities that come my way.

5 things you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years.

Gosh, can we just do the next five minutes? I’m trying to live in the moment more. I do have goals, but having just realized the biggest one – getting a poetry book published by a publisher before I hit 40 (I’m 40 on April 11!) I don’t want to push myself. I’m in coasting mode: sit back, enjoy the ride and the view, and see what comes my way. I just want to be a good wife, mother, friend, daughter, and to continue writing, and living with passion.

Do you have anything you wish to share with aspiring writers? Any advice?

Write what you know. Write from your heart. Don’t over edit. Don’t second-guess yourself. Volunteer. Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

How can we purchase  a copy of your Book?

Carry On Dancing is now available on Amazon.com, bn.com and signed copies are also available from me, via Paypal, by writing writer@hgrace.com

Click here to all my books on Amazon and my children’s book:  The Groovy Granny

This is my new web site :  http://heathergracestewart.me

This is my blog:   http://heathergracestewart.com

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Kim!
Heather

Thank you Heather!  Such a pleasure getting to know you more.. and a fellow Montrealer to boot!  We should do coffee soon!  Congrats on being no 2 NOW!!  at Amazon.ca!!

You can also follow Heather Grace Stewart on Facebook 

Hope you enjoyed your stay,

Kim