Books·How I Wrote It

Why Amy Jones wrote a novel inspired by Halifax, reality TV and the end of the world

The former winner of the CBC Short Story Prize discusses how she wrote her second novel, Every Little Piece of Me.
Every Little Piece of Me is a novel by Amy Jones. (Ali Eisner, McClelland & Stewart)

Every Little Piece of Me is Amy Jones's second novel — and this time around, she's got Instagram and reality TV on her mind. 

The novel follows reluctant reality TV star Ava and Mags, the lead singer of a Halifax rock band, as they grapple with fame and loss to form a powerful bond through their shared circumstances. 

Jones, who won the 2006 CBC Short Story Prize, discusses how she wrote Every Little Piece of Me

Female friendship

"Ava is a young reality television star. She didn't start out as a star, but she evolves into one over the course of the book. The other one is Mags, who is an up-and-coming musician. She's in a band with her boyfriend, who later becomes her husband. They're both rising stars at the beginning of the book and they encounter a lot of pressure from the outside world as they grow up in the spotlight. Ava and Mags end up meeting at a very critical point in their lives when things are falling apart for them. They become friends and they help each other deal with what they're going through.

I wanted to write a book that centres women's voices and women's friendship.

"I wanted to write a book that centres women's voices and women's friendship. I wanted to show the two of them become friends, even though they're only together in the course of the book for about four days. They're young and they're at that age where it's easy to form quick intense friendships."

Lessons from reality TV

"I had been thinking about the idea of a fish-out-of-water reality TV show set in Nova Scotia. Reality TV is pretty scripted and edited heavily to give us a certain idea about things and to make things fit into a narrative. But we still watch it and we still buy into the idea that it's reality, even though we know it's not. I wanted to play with that. I thought that fit in well with some of the other bigger themes that I was dealing with around social media and how we construct our own identities.

"We have this idea of the way people see us; the way that we actually see ourselves is very different."

A dark novel for dark times

"I started writing this in the fall of 2016 and it felt like the world was ending. It was a dark time in the world and for me personally. That permeated the whole writing of the novel. I think that was being channeled through my writing. It felt disingenuous for me to write any differently.

We have this idea of the way people see us, and the way that we actually see ourselves is very different.

"I hope that readers are able to find some light in the darkness. I like people to think about the ways in which they're complicit in this voyeuristic culture that we have and the way they participate in social media and celebrity culture."

A more familiar Halifax

"I wanted to write about the city just because it was such a huge part of my life. There's the way that people perceive it and the way that it actually is for people that live there. A lot of the stuff that I read about Nova Scotia when I was growing up was always about rural areas. I grew up in a city, and I never saw my experience written in a book.

"I'm obsessed in my writing about the idea of home and what it means to have that pull to leave or that pull to stay."

Amy Jones comments have been edited for clarity and length. You can read more interviews in the How I Wrote It series here.

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