Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Marie-Claire Blais on her Canadian soundtrack and tropical view

The author of The Acacia Gardens answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Marie-Claire Blais is the author of The Acacia Gardens. (Jill Glessing)

She's been compared to Marcel Proust and lauded as Quebec's greatest living writer. In her latest novel, The Acacia Gardens, award-winning author Marie-Claire Blais situates a diverse and compelling cast of characters in a supposedly safe haven, only to reveal it's anything but.

Below, Marie-Claire Blais answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Lawrence Hill asks, "If you could start your life all over again and writing were not an option, what work would you most love to do?"

I would love to be a painter or a teacher of philosophy.

2. Madeleine Thien asks, "When does talking to oneself become a problem? Or, when does not talking to oneself become a problem?"

It's complicated, because we need a distance from ourselves in our work, but at the same time, inner experience is important for writing.

3. Helen Humphreys asks, "If you write in a room with a window, what is the view out of that window?"

My nice patio with tropical trees, and an orphan cat living there.

4. Lynn Crosbie asks, "Have you ever confronted, in your writing, the most shameful thing you have ever done? Should you?" 

No, but in the process of writing you have to confront shameful things committed by human beings.

5. Tracey Lindberg asks, "Your latest novel is made into a movie. Who is on the soundtrack?"

I would choose a Canadian woman composer, for sure.

6. Gary Barwin asks, "Do you feel that you guide the writing or do you feel the writing guides you?"


7. Phil Hall asks, "Seriously, have you thought about your last words? This will be your last chance to write anything. Thoreau shouted, 'Moose! Indians!' What do you hope yours might be?"

To write about my worries for the survival of the world.

8. Samuel Archibald asks, "Cormac McCarthy once said: 'I felt early on I wasn't going to be a respectable citizen.' When did that realization come to you?"

Early in life!