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10 for the Top 10: Ami McKay answers the Canada Reads Questionnaire

Ami McKay is now an author synonymous with Atlantic Canadian fiction, but this former music teacher grew up in Indiana and spent many years in Chicago before she followed love to the Bay of Fundy. There, she penned her phenomenal debut novel, The Birth House, which became an instant bestseller when it was published in 2006.

The story of Dora Rare, a young girl growing up in Scot's Bay during times of great change, captured hearts around the world, including that of the Globe and Mail reviewer, who wrote: "From the beginning of Ami McKay's debut novel, The Birth House, we know we're in for a bit of magic. . .The Birth House is compelling and lively, beautifully conjuring a close-knit community and reminding us, as Dora notes, that the miracle happens not in birth but in the love that follows."

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.

Birth isn't a miracle — love is.

Which Top 10 book would you want to defend on Canada Reads (other than your own)?

Unless.

What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?

The Box of Delights bookstore in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. When I was writing The Birth House, I would go there every week and stare at the place on the shelf where I hoped to someday find my novel.

Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet?

Carol Shields.

Who is your favourite fictional character and why?

Holly Golightly from Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. She's nothing short of operatic — cheeky, dramatic, sexy and tender.

What did you want to be growing up?

Singing on a Broadway stage.

What would you be if you weren't a writer?

A tired yet devoted music teacher (still singing at weddings on the weekends).

What's your favourite encounter with a reader or most memorable fan moment?

I was signing books after a reading in Windsor, Ontario, and when I looked up to greet the last person in line, I found it was Alistair MacLeod.

What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel — my nine-year-old son and I read the entire series to each other. I'll never forget it.

Which Canadian personality do you want to have defend your book?

Jill Barber or Alanis Morissette —their music keeps me writing day after day.


The Birth House was originally published in 2006 by Knopf Canada. It is now available from Vintage Canada and can be found at fine independent bookstores across the country.

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