ScotiaBank Gillers

Q & A with Suzette Mayr

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.

Here we have Suzette Mayr, author of Monoceros.


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

Suzette Mayr: Monoceros is about a 17-year-old boy who commits suicide because his heart is broken and because other students in his school keep bullying him for being gay. His death affects a number of people, including those who hardly knew him or never knew him at all: an Amazonian drag queen named Crêpe Suzette, Crêpe Suzette's teenage niece who believes unicorns will come to save her, and a couple who prefer to eat Ethiopian take-out food rather than talk about their alarming marital problems. In the end, they all get what they deserve -- sort of.

Q: Which Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you like to see take home the prize?

SM: Can there be 17 books tied for the prize? I guess not. (But what a party that would be!) Okay, then I would like to see a tie between Lynn Coady's The Antagonists and Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues.

Q: What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?

SM: I remember very fondly my days as a graduate student on the lower floors of the North Rutherford Library at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. A great place to read, sleep and have really hot and dirty, extremely quiet trysts with other bookish people...

Q: Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet. Why?

SM: I would love to meet Martha Ostenso, the author of Wild Geese. Why? Because she wore leopard-skin jumpsuits and never got up before noon, of course. Or Marie-Claire Blais because she is simply a legend. But I would be too shy to talk to either of them.

Q: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?main_monoceros.jpg

SM: Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Her fiancé jilted her on her wedding day and so she sits in the dark in her house for the rest of her life, still wearing her wedding dress, one shoe on, one shoe off (because she only had one shoe on when she heard the news that her groom had jilted her), and a rotting wedding cake on the table. I can relate to that.

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

SM: A receptionist at a used-car dealership because this was the only job I could get when I first graduated. I would own a lot of cardigans I knitted myself.

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

SM: The Nightwatch by Sarah Waters. C'est magnifique!

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.

Related: Q&A with Michael Christie

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