Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette on the question she's tired of answering

The author of Suzanne answers eight questions from eight fellow authors in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.
Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette is the author of the novel Suzanne. (Sarah Scott)

Montreal filmmaker Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette invites readers follow her as she pieces together her grandmother's life in Suzanne. Barbeau-Lavalette uses the morsels of information about her relative and introduces fiction to tell the story of a woman who struggled for her art and identity over 85 years. Suzanne, originally titled La femme qui fuit, received the Quebec's Prix des libraires in 2016. It was translated into English by Rhonda Mullins.         

Suzanne is on the Canada Reads 2019 longlist. The final five books and the panellists defending them will be revealed on Jan. 31, 2019. The 2019 debates are happening on March 25-28, 2019 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan.

Below, Barbeau-Lavalette answers eight questions from eight fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Katherine Lawrence asks, "What book are you reading right now and why?"

My favourite book. I can't say the name, since I'm currently adapting it for the big screen. It makes me giddy just thinking about it!

2. Eden Robinson asks, "What is your first childhood memory?"

A joyful storm. Tropical rain on my bare skin.

3. Sandra Ridley asks, "You're having a dinner party. Which ghosts would you invite?"

I'd invite Jacques Brel, Nina Simone, Romain Gary, Martin Luther King, Barbara, my two grandfathers (an Automatist painter and fruit auctioneer) and my two grandmothers (Suzanne, a poet and painter, and Boubou, who worked in a factory her whole life). I'm the one who'd cut the cake, to have the pleasure of serving it to my guests. And I'd smoke a hand-rolled cigarette on the balcony with each of them, one-on-one, for as long as I could.

4. Nick Mount asks, "What interview question are you most tired of hearing?"

"Where did you get the idea to write this book?" Ideas don't come from somewhere. Ideas are created, gradually take shape, get distorted, then reconstruct themselves. An idea is a complex, fascinating process that comes from everywhere and nowhere.

5. Eric Walters asks, "What book have you read more times than any other book and why?"

Romain Gary's White Dog. Because it offers a supremely intelligent analysis of the pinnacle of human stupidity — racism.

6. Benjamin Hertwig asks, "Marilynne Robinson said that one of her favourite end-of-day writing snacks is a fried egg sandwich. What food fuels your creativity?"

Coffee, white chocolate or red wine, hand-rolled cigarette.

7. Meg Rosoff asks, "What's your favourite way to waste time?"

Cross-country skiing or stretching out in the ray of sunlight that passes through the

8. Robert J. Sawyer asks, "The greatest journalist of all time just may be Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati, who would ask but two questions: 'Who do you think you are?' and 'What are you trying to pull?' Well?"

I try to understand who I am and where I come from so that I can be my true self. And what I'm trying to pull concerns me alone — I'm a secretive person. ;-)


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