Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Larry Tremblay on finding inspiration and imagination in nature

The author of The Orange Grove answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Larry Tremblay is the author of The Orange Grove. (Sylvie Mousseau)

For the Québécois author and playwright Larry Tremblay, nature is a sanctuary. The same is true for the twin brothers in his novel The Orange Grove, one of 17 Canadian books nominated for the International DUBLIN Literary Prize — at least, until a bomb from "the other side of the mountain" forever changes their world.

Below, Larry Tremblay answers eight questions submitted by eight of his fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Charlotte Gill asks, "Describe your alter ego in personality and appearance."

Someone whose face is in shadow, sitting in the lotus position, in a cave dug into the Himalayas.

2. Phil Hall asks, "Where do you go for a writing retreat? Where would you go ideally?"

I have the good fortune of owning a country house, where I can write surrounded by trees and animals, my best guides.

3. George Elliott Clarke asks, "What literary character would you like to seduce — or be seduced by?"

No one. But I would like to meet other figures (who aren't necessarily literary) such as Buddha or Jesus. And it surely wouldn't be for a matter of seduction.

4. Rachel Cusk asks, "Name some of the rituals or habits you indulge in while writing."

I get up, drink coffee, don't answer the telephone, don't read my emails, go directly to my table to work and, without hesitating, write. This is not a ritual, but more of a discipline.

5. Frances Itani asks, "Describe a walk that would and could feed your imagination and your writing. In what part of the world would this walk take place?"

A walk in the yellow Sahara Desert. Or a walk on the unbreakable ice of the Arctic where there is nothing but an immense blank page for the world to see.

6. Alissa York asks, "Is there a particular book that made you want to write?"

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre.

7. Dominique Fortier asks, "What is the most beautiful word?"

Arc-en-ciel ("rainbow"). As a child, when I heard the word "arc-en-ciel" I pictured an arch made of sky. As if the sky was a sculptor's material. And I imagined, in amazement, that such an arch could be fired like an arrow.

8. Jo Walton asks, "Does your writing ever change course on you and do something unexpected? How do you deal with that?"

Literature removes the mess, declutters the mind, condenses the eye. To write constitutes a negative act — in the mathematical sense of the term — that reorganizes the real into a purity. If the forest of the world dresses itself in splendid mysteries as much as acclaimed foolishness, writing is clearing and therefore knocking down false consensus, unavowed comforts, hidden hysteria. Fiction is a reflection that walks, breathes, doubts and sometimes breaks. To create requires thinking against oneself, traversing good to discover that it also hurts. It is there where writing alters my existence.