Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why Lisa Gabriele wrote a novel inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

The author of The Winters takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow authors.
Lisa Gabriele is the author of The Winters. (Doubleday Canada)

In Lisa Gabriele's latest novel, The Wintersa young woman moves into her new fiancé's mansion, the Asherley estate, and finds herself unwelcome. Not only does her fiancé's teenage daughter despise her, but the manor appears to be haunted by its beautiful former mistress, Rebekah. 

Below, Gabriele takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, answering eight randomly selected questions from eight fellow writers.

1. Sandra Perron asks, "Why write this book now?"

I deeply love Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, but when I reread it in the fall of 2016, something about the political atmosphere at the time, coupled with the crimes in the book, thoroughly enraged me. I wrote The Winters to seek answers about the baffling decisions some women make, and to find a measure of justice. I wrote the book I needed to read right at that time.

2. S.K. Ali asks, "Is there something you must do to get started writing? Like a writing ritual?"

No. In fact the trick is to do little else. Wake up, drink coffee, put butt in chair, shut everything off, get to work until you're tired. Sometimes that's for two hours, sometimes 10.

3. Lorna Crozier asks, "How did growing up with (or without) siblings affect your writing or your desire to be a writer?"

I have siblings; there are four of us, a year apart. Writing was a way to have some privacy. People left me alone when I was bent over a notebook or typewriter (pre-computer, of course). Now they've resigned themselves to the fact that a part of them will always appear in my books. I write about family — or sometimes the complete lack thereof — the interrelationship between sibs and half-sibs a particular fixation.

4. Ryan North asks, "What do you think is the greatest misconception the public has of writers, and on a similar note, which great misconception would you like them to maintain?"

The greatest misconception is that writing books makes you a lot of money. The ones that do are flukes. Most don't, like, at all.

The misconception to maintain: that writing is glamorous. It's the opposite. But who needs to know that I can go three days in my pyjamas — no shower, not leaving my apartment, eating cereal for breakfast — and that's when it's going really well!

5. Sheena Kamal asks, "Is there a piece of art — be it a book, poem, painting, song, sculpture or what have you — that you come back to again and again as a source of inspiration?"

Well, Rebecca is a book I've reread countless times, own several copies of, including a French movie poster that hangs in my bathroom. My view is another inspired thing. I love looking at Toronto from my perch above St. Clair West. And my cats. They're nice visual breaks.

6. Kurt Palka asks, "What do you feel to be the biggest inner threat to your writing? And how do you deal with it?"

That voice that tells me I'm not worthy, that no one wants to read what I wrote. Because of really good therapy, I have learned that everyone has a form of that voice inside of them and now I have effective ways to interrupt and silence that voice so I can get some work done.

7. Rio Youers asks, "You can jump into the mind of any other writer for just one day. Whose mind do you choose, and why?"

David Sedaris, to try to dissect how he can be funny and poignant and smart and surprising all in one sentence.

8. Benjamin Hertwig asks, "Can you recall any particularly notable pieces of bathroom graffiti? If not, what pithy statement/image would you like to see carved into the washroom stalls of the world?"

What other people think about you is none of your business.


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