GG Q&As: Fiction winner Eleanor Catton


Congratulations to Eleanor Catton, who won this year's Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction for her novel The Luminaries. CBC Books caught up with Catton following the announcement of her win on Wednesday.

Q: You lived in Canada very early on in your life before moving to New Zealand. Do you think your time in Canada has had any influence on your writing or development as a writer?

eleanor-catton-headshot.jpgEleanor Catton: Yes, absolutely. I feel really lucky to have had an experience living in more than one country as a child: coming into a new environment as an outsider is always shaping of a writer's sensibility, I think, because so much of a writer's craft involves learning how to balance externality and internality, figuring out how to be both inside a scene and also, as a creator, outside of it.

Q: Using the zodiac was such an interesting plot approach. Have you explored all you have wanted to do in astrology or are you in interested in writing about other facets of it?

A: I've just written an essay about the zodiac, focusing on the musical and mathematical patterns that exist within the system -- really the zodiac is an incredibly complex and supple piece of architecture, one that involves many repetitions and harmonies and instances of internal patterning. I hope to publish that essay before too long, but after that, I doubt that I'll return to astrology as a fictional subject. It's important to be always moving onward, I think; writing gets stale if the writer is treading familiar ground.

The Luminaries.jpgQ: You've been quite busy around the world recently since capturing the Man Booker Prize. What are you most looking forward to doing when you settle back at home?

A: Cooking, and seeing my cats. I have been Skyping my cats quite a bit, but it's no substitute for a real cuddle.

Q: You were watching TV programs Deadwood and Carnivàle when you started mapping out The Luminaries. What television shows are you following right now and are they leading your mind to interesting places?

A: I've loved following Breaking Bad, though I'm still one season away from the end because I'm old-fashioned and don't like to stream TV shows online -- I'm waiting for the DVD! I think Parks and Recreation is a perfect comedy. I'm very invested in Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Girls -- I can't wait to see how those shows shape up.

Q: Let's talk Hollywood adaptation: who could you see starring in that?

A: I'm hoping for a BBC adaptation rather than a Hollywood one: so many of the characters in The Luminaries are British, after all. I'd love to see Dominic West as Carver, James McAvoy as Moody, and Brendan Gleeson as Mannering. But I'd also love to be surprised.

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