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How I wrote it

Claire Cameron: How I wrote The Bear

Claire Cameron has been obsessed with bears her whole life. And when the voice of a new character—a young girl—made itself known, she knew she would be bringing her face to face with one of these mighty creatures. 

In Cameron's new novel The Bear, five-year old Anna and her little brother Alex flee from the black bear that killed their parents and embark on a harrowing quest for survival. In her own words, the author lets us in on some of the rituals, rhythms and quirks of her writing process.

“The voice came first. I was writing something else and it was a whisper in my ear, which is how characters come to me… It was a Monday and I remember opening up a new document in Word, which should have been intimidating… I wrote a first draft really fast, in about 6 weeks. I had the voice so strong I almost had to fake the rest of my life. I have kids and a family and went through the motions of living that life. I was very much in the life of The Bear…”

“I love the Internet, and I love wasting time on the Internet—even though it sometimes ends up being not being a waste of time. I’m very rigid about my schedule. I sit down at 8 am and the Internet blocker goes on. My standard time is 120 minutes. I’m a compulsive writer so it reminds me to stop writing…  If I write more than that I turn into an ogre for my kids.”

“I find this mortifying to admit, but I have one of those balls that helps my posture. They’re hard to sit on so it stops me from sitting too long... I also wear a pair of 3M™ PELTOR™ Optime™ II Ear Muffs. They’re the same ones that people wear on the tarmac among the planes—noise blockers. I start when the kids are still in the house. My husband takes them to school, but there’s still a lot going on so a neighbour gave them to me as a joke. Now they’re crucial because they’re a signal that I am entering an internal world. So now even when there’s no one in the house I wear them.”

“I pooped out after I’d finished a big section and I made the mistake of reading back. I realized that the voice was kind of weird and demanding to read. And I also had this huge doubt about who is going to want to spend this book in the mind of a five-year-old. That was the moment when I really thought of Room by Emma Donoghue. I love that book and I knew its voice was different. I knew that she had done it, and I took strength from that and kept going.”

These quotes are condensed from a longer interview.

Photo courtesy of the author. Ed. note: check the bottom left corner.

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