Books·Magic 8 Q&A

What makes Doug Wright Award-nominated cartoonist GG cry?

The author of the acclaimed graphic memoir I'm Not Here answers eight questions from eight fellow authors.
GG, who hails from the Canadian Prairies, is the author and artist behind the graphic novel I'm Not Here. (Koyama Press)

GG is a an Alberta-based cartoonist whose first book, I'm Not Here, strings together a series of intimate memories as a young, second-generation woman moves through the neighbourhood of her childhood. GG's beautiful illustrations underscore the quiet narrator's deep sadness and hope, as she contemplates elder care, otherness and art. The graphic memoir was shortlisted for the Doug Wright Award for best book

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

1. Méira Cook asks, "Is creativity a gift or a pathology? Something else?"

It can be either depending on what time of day you ask me or it can even be both at the same time. Sometimes it is the only thing that keeps me going. Sometimes it feels like it will destroy me.

2. Lawrence Hill asks, "What is the worst job you ever had, and what kind of good material did it give you?"

I've had a lot of different jobs but none of them really stick out to me as being bad. I try to go into things with the mindset that the experience is just research for my "real" work anyway. Whether it was working in the food industry or working in an office — if nothing else, I still always found each experience interesting to study. From the way the organizations were structured to the interpersonal maneuvering — good or bad, I think it's all useful.

3. Peggy Blair asks, "If your book became a movie, which actor would play your lead and why?"

I'm not sure I would want my book to be a movie. Adapting it would alter it so much from what it is — in which case, I guess anyone could play the lead. I would just let the filmmakers surprise me with their interpretation of the material.

4. Ian Brown asks, "What was the lowest point in the writing of your latest project? And the highest?"

The highest point was when, one day, all the disparate pieces of the story fell into place and fit together. I'm not sure how that happens or if that will always keep happening but, so far, it has been a dependable magic. The lowest is all the time waiting for that thing to happen, doubting and wondering whether that magic will ever happen again.

5. Taras Grescoe asks, "Do you have an ideal reader? (If so, what's his/her name?)"

I try to make things that I myself want to see or feel — things that I haven't been able to find a more convenient substitute for anywhere else. So I suppose my ideal reader is just anyone who is interested in that thing or feeling that I'm looking for.

6. Claire Messud asks, "What is your favourite book from childhood, and why?"

I don't know if it's my favourite but whenever I think of books from my childhood, I think of the story The Green Ribbon from a collection of horror stories called In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Dirk Zimmer. I remember when my teacher read it to us in class — it must have been in Grade 1 or 2 — and afterwards I was left with an uneasy feeling that never went away. I wonder if that's where my interest in strange and absurd situations began?

7. Saleema Nawaz asks, "What do you do when the writing is going badly... or not going at all?"

When it's going badly, it's almost always because there are too many distractions. The best method I have to deal with that is to isolate myself with my own thoughts and refocus by doing yoga, riding around on my skateboard, going for a long drive or just laying in bed with all my devices off. That's very often easier said than done.

8. Linda Spalding asks, "What moves you to tears?"

Happy tears: when the goodness in people is revealed to me. Sad tears: cruelty and inequality.

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