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10 for the Top 10: Angie Abdou answers the Canada Reads Questionnaire

We've got a few days before the panelists make their picks and we reveal who they are and what they chose! (November 24 on Q, to be exact.) In the meantime, we thought it would be nice for the Top 10 authors to get a little friendlier with the rest of the country. We sent them 10 questions to answer — and we will be rolling out their responses every few days. First up, Angie Abdou, author of The Bone Cage.

Angie Abdou, a native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, currently teaches at the College of Rockies and makes her home in Fernie, British Columbia. Her first book, a 2006 collection of short stories called Anything Boys Can Do, was lauded as "an "extraordinary literary debut." The Bone Cage is her first novel and explores the difficult and demanding road elite athletes take to achieve the crowning glory in amateur sports: Olympic gold. Published in 2007 by NeWest Press, the book was widely acclaimed (Quill & Quire magazine called it "vivid, intense, and authentic") and went on to be selected for the first-ever One Book One Kootenay project, in 2009.

Angie Abdou

Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.

The Olympics leaves its athletes broken souls. Find out why.

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

That's a nearly impossible question. I love books (so many of them!). So far, I've only read five on the list, and from those I would choose to defend The Birth House...or maybe Unless. Bottle Rocket Hearts is next up on my reading pile.

What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?

My favourite bookish place in Canada is the Fernie Heritage Library. It's a gorgeous old building with a stunning view of Mount Hosmer's Ghostrider. Plus, it smells like books (as all truly great places do). I've written all three of my books in the reading room there, a place I have no excuses — no internet to check, no phones to answer, no fridges to clean, no bookshelves to reorganize. The Fernie Heritage Library's staff has also been incredibly supportive — I feel held up when I write there.

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

I've been very lucky to have met many of my writing idols, especially Robert Kroetsch and Paul Quarrington. I'd also love to meet Margaret Laurence (for inspiring my teen revelation that great literature could come from the Prairies) and John Irving (for inspiring the even more surprising realization that great literature could be about wrestling).

Who is your favourite fictional character and why?

Percival Leary in King Leary — because he's so incredibly flawed but the book still works (not only does it work — it's brilliant).

What did you want to be growing up?

A writer. Sorry — boring and predictable. But true.

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

An English professor (which is, in fact, my day job). I need books in my life's work.

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

My favourite encounter with a reader was the time I got a very intelligent and detailed e-mail from a student who was studying The Bone Cage in a graduate course at the University of Victoria. The class, called Writing the Body in Motion, had been designed by Lorna Jackson and was being taught by Bill Gaston — two writers I admire immensely. I hadn't even realized my novel was on a syllabus at the University of Victoria. Up until that point, I felt like I individually sold every single copy of The Bone Cage myself, actually putting it right into each reader's hands. That e-mail marked the moment that I realized my little book had taken on a life beyond me. Plus, it was such a smart and enthusiastic letter. I saved it.

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

The novel that has affected me the most this year is Every Lost Country by Steven Heighton.

Here's a video where I explain why:



Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote where I give a few other reasons:

Every Lost Country is most unique in the way Heighton relays this suspenseful adventure with a poet's touch. His finely crafted language will have readers lingering over sentences, coming back to admire their beauty, their resonance. Staying up late into the night fearing for the lives of these shockingly meaty characters — that I expected. True poetry in an action novel — that caught me pleasantly off guard. [read the entire article here]

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

Mark Tewksbury or Joanne Malar. (How cool would that be??!!)

The Bone Cage was published by NeWest Press in 2007. It is available at fine independent bookstores across the country.

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