Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why spirituality is embedded in everything Ruby Slipperjack writes

The author of Dear Canada: These Are My Words answers eight questions submitted by eight other writers.
Ruby Slipperjack is the author of Dear Canada: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens.

Ruby Slipperjack's children's book, Dear Canada: These Are My Words, is the diary of a 12-year-old girl named Violet Pesheens, who is a student at a residential school. Slipperjack, who won the 2017 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, drew on her own experiences attending Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Below, the award-winning author takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow writers.

1. Danielle Younge-Ullman asks, "What do you do when you're feeling creatively exhausted, to regenerate?"

I do my writing at my cabin up north. I sit at the window or outside if the mosquitoes are not too bad. I just watch the waves on the lake and listen to the wind in the trees and the chirping birds.

2. Oana Avasilichioaei asks, "What are some of the ways by which you enrich/feed the language or languages with which you write?"

I do most of the dialogue in my own Ojibwe language and then I translate into English as I write.

3. Aviaq Johnston asks, "How do you come up with a title for what you are writing?"

I normally have a Working Title that comes from the story itself. In the end though, it is the editors that decide the title.

4. Jowita Bydlowska asks, "What does it mean to take a risk as a writer, and how do you feel about it?"

I write what I write and do not worry about what others might feel about it.

5. Eden Robinson asks, "What was the most unexpected inspiration you've ever had?" 

I sometimes dream about the next scene in my sleep. I call these my 'freebees'.

6. Rachel Cusk asks, "Name some of the rituals or habits you indulge in while writing."

When I am totally focused on my writing, I am not aware of what is happening around me or I do not hear if someone is speaking to me.

7. Zsuzsi Gartner asks, "What role do religion and spirituality play in your writing?"

Spirituality is a given in my culture from which I write. It is embedded in all the things that my characters are doing, thinking or saying.

8. Drew Hayden Taylor asks, "Do you think you or your books would have been successful, say... 50 or 100 years ago!? Or has the style of writing changed too much in the passing decades?"  

NO. My books would not have been published at that time.

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