Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why Kerry Clare reads what she wants

The author of Mitzi Bytes answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Kerry Clare is the author of the novel Mitzi Bytes. (

After blogging about books and family life for over 15 years, Kerry Clare released her debut novel, Mitzi Bytes. The book is, fittingly, about Sarah Lundy, a mother who started a blog about finding love after divorce under the pseudonym Mitzi Bytes. Years later, Lundy's life begins to unravel when a mysterious "Jane Q" threatens to expose her true identity to the world.

We asked Clare to take CBC Books' Magic 8 Q&A and answer eight randomly selected questions from eight fellow authors.

1. Sharon Butala asks, "Do you ever feel trapped by your writing life and wish you could escape?"

Never. Maybe I haven't been a writer long enough? Instead, I feel like writing is an escape from the drudgery, banality and inanity that are the worst parts of life and this world. I am grateful to have this outlet.

2. Kate Taylor asks, "Is there a character in fiction you admire so much — as an expression of the novelist's craft, not as a person — that you wish you had created them?"

I love all of Carol Shields' characters and how marvellously they're crafted, but the protagonist from her final novel, Unless, stands out for me. Because Shields dared to create a woman who was justifiably furious, but who in her fury gets more than few details wrong and doesn't see how her own vision is limited. Reta Winters is not wholly wrong, but sometimes she is. I aspired to walk that tricky line with my own character because all actual people exist in a similar state of being.

3. Jane Urquhart asks, "Is there a difference in the way that male and female writers are valued by the literary establishment and by society?"

There's a huge difference. I think about it all the time. As Virginia Woolf wrote, "The difference of value persists." But I think those of us who know better can apply our own value. I consciously wrote a "women's book" because these are the kinds of books I like best to read. And I'd hope that a few readers who are men might be brave enough to read outside those lines.

4. Nazneen Sheikh asks, "Do you write to music?"

Sometimes, but I can only listen to a single song over and over again on repeat. I once wrote an essay while listening to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" ninety times.

5. Richard Van Camp asks, "What's the story you'll never write about that haunts you? It could be delicious. Yes, that's the one we want to know. What is your delicious that you'll never write about? What is it?"

I don't think I have one of these. The stories that haunt me, I write over and over again. As a child, I did use to lie in bed and make up stories and came up with an entire town (that existed on a tiny island off the coast of P.E.I.). I could draw you a map, and I remember its people, but I'll never write about it because I made it up when I was eight. Not so delicious, I realize. 

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

I gave up on great books a long time ago, and now I only read what I want to read. It's a terrific way to arrange things. 

7. Jen Sookfong Lee asks, "Writing sex scenes: fun or torture?"

Neither. I'd say they are necessary. And writing them makes me get a little flushed.

8. Paul Yee asks, "Do you think it's harder to write funny stories than serious ones?"

For me, funny is a reflex. It's almost too easy and sometimes I have to work to resist it, to take things seriously for once.