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Q&A with Pauline Holdstock

This year, 17 Canadian authors made it to the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the country's richest literary award for fiction. To get some further insight into their work and their inspirations, CBC Books asked the longlisted authors a series of questions. As the prize jury debates which books will be named to the shortlist, we'll be posting our Q&As for you to enjoy.

pholdstock.jpgHere we have Pauline Holdstock, author of Into the Heart of the Country.

Q: Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.

Pauline Holdstock: Late 18th century, the shores of Hudson Bay. The fur trade is in full swing. Mixed-blood Molly Norton, favourite daughter of the governor, is, in one of history's cruel ironies, unwittingly condemned, by Samuel Hearne, the man who loves her, to a harsh fate in the land of her ancestors.
Q: Which Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you like to see take home the prize?

PH: Oh but, I'd have to have read them all to answer that fairly! I'd like to read Zsuzsi Gartner's Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, and Guy Vanderhaeghe's A Good Man and Genni Gunn's Solitaria...

Q: What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?
PH: I'm choosing a system, rather than a place. It's the fantastic Interlibrary Loan Service that operates across Canada. It will send you things not available even on the internet -- microfilm, rare books. Invaluable.
Q: Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet? Why?
PH: Anne Hébert. One of Canada's greatest fiction writers. I've learned so much from reading her work. I think of her as my literary mentor and would have loved to meet her while she lived.

Q: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?

intotheheartofthecountry-125.jpgPH: I never did recover from encountering Catherine and Heathcliff when I was 12. You can't have one without the other. Together they represent all that is wild and dangerous in us -- and all that is true.

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

PH: A dancer.
Q. What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?

PH: A slim volume of poems called Ghost Country by Steve Noyes, clear-eyed and cleanly written, taking in and giving back an entire world with moving honesty. 

Come back soon for more Q&As with the longlisted authors. In the meantime, check out our exciting Scotiabank Giller Prize contests. This month, you could win a $1,000 gift certificate to Chapters Indigo to build your dream library as part of our Select Your Shortlist contest.

Q&A with Michael Christie

Q&A with Suzette Mayr

Q&A with Esi Edugyan

Q&A with Alexi Zentner


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