Books·Magic 8 Q&A

'Never be embarrassed for loving a book:' Words of wisdom from short story writer Erin Frances Fisher

The author of the short story collection That Tiny Life answers eight questions from fellow authors.
That Tiny Life is Erin Frances Fisher's debut novel. (Lillian Liu/House of Anansi)

Erin Frances Fisher's debut, That Tiny Life, transports us to vastly different landscapes and times, from resource extraction in deep space to instrument building in pre-revolutionary France. The limitless collection of short stories explores our need for connection and humanity's cycle of creation and destruction.

Below, Fisher takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow writers.

1. George Bowering asks, "Do you choose what to read (other than research) while you are writing a book, or do you just keep on reading what you read?"

Other than research, I keep reading through my stacks of books.

2. Cordelia Strube asks, "What keeps you writing?"

Revision. If I'm unhappy with a draft I'm writing, I know eventually I'll find a way to edit life into it.

3. Caroline Pignat asks, "How do you know when a manuscript is 'finished'?"

When the changes I'm making aren't real changes or the edits would turn the stories into new stories entirely, that's when it's time to move on.

4. Beth Powning asks, "Describe the journey that you take after you have finished writing a book and are wondering what you are going to write next."

That Tiny Life is my first book, so I'm living this right now. Because I work on multiple projects at once, it wasn't difficult for me to find my next project. At the moment, I'm excited to be able to focus my energy on something new.

5. Vivek Shraya asks, "Who is a Canadian writer you aspire to write like and why?"

There's many writers who inspire me to write — whose books I go back to and ask, how can I make my work as layered, imaginative, detailed or fun? It's too hard to pick one, so here's a sampling: Tomas Dobozy, Barbara Gowdy, Steven Price, Patrick deWitt and Heather Birrell.

6. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "Do you think the portrayal of certain character types are beyond you? Can you name a character in a novel, whose personality/point of view/character traits etc. you know you could never write?"

Yes and no? No, because good writing and reading requires (and exercises) empathy, so I hope that I could find a way into that character. Yes, because there are characters I'd choose not to write — ones whose voice would be better portrayed by a different writer.

7. Michael Christie asks, "What is the book you're most embarrassed to admit that you love?"

Never be embarrassed for loving a book.

8. Shani Mootoo asks, "What was the best surprise you had in the process of writing your latest published book?"

Can I say, seeing the cover?