Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Mariko Tamaki on when she realized she would never be a respectable citizen

The author of Saving Montgomery Sole answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Mariko Tamaki is the author of the novel Saving Montgomery Sole. (Mariko Tamaki)

If Mariko Tamaki had a superpower, it would be the teenage mind-meld. The author of the acclaimed graphic novel This One Summer (with her illustrator cousin, Jillian Tamaki) has the uncanny ability to tap directly into the essence of being hilarious, smart, weird... and in high school. Tamaki's showing off her superpowers again in Saving Montgomery Sole through its mystery-loving, two-mom-having title character. 

Below, Mariko Tamaki answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Michael Winter asks, "Do you write about people you know? How has that worked out for you?"

I'm definitely inspired by the people I know, and that inspiration shows through in the things I write. People have often told me that the people I write about all seem to be me, which is kind of flattering and kind of odd. I think my characters are pastiches of a lot of different people, including bits of me.

2. Jonathan Auxier asks, "What's the strangest or most obscure word you've ever worked into a book?"

I don't know about word. I once worked in a metaphor comparing dead skin to one of those vertical broiler meat cones at a Gyro restaurant. Feel pretty good about that.

3. 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?"


4. Tracey Lindberg asks, "What questions would show up on your FAQ (frequently annoying questions) list?"

So, you and Jillian are sisters? (A: No.)
Would you describe yourself as a feminist? (A: Obviously)

5. Yann Martel asks, "Is there a Great Book that you actually hate? Why?"

I was never a Gatsby fan.

6. Camilla Gibb asks, "Do you have an unpublished novel lying about somewhere?"

I have half of a novel that will never be stewing in my laptop.

7. Kenneth Oppel asks, "Do you resist all distractions during the working day, or welcome (and even invent) them?"

I've given up trying to avoid distractions, I'm a very distracted person. (Writing THIS is a distraction from work I'm supposed to be doing!) I do think that a lot of great ideas happen when you're in the middle of something else so it can be a good thing.

8. Tomson Highway asks, "What keeps you going — first as a writer, and second as a human being?" 

The story. The people I love.


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