The Next Chapter

Linda Leith's memoir delves into an intriguing life and family story

The Montreal writer, translator and publisher spoke with The Next Chapter about writing The Girl from Dream City.
The Girl from Dream City is a book by Linda Leith. (University of Regina Press, Linda Leith)

Linda Leith is a writer, translator and book publisher who lives in Montreal. She founded the literary festival Blue Metropolis and the publishing house Linda Leith Publishing. She was named a member of the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian literature.

Leith shares her life story in the new memoir The Girl from Dream City. Leith grew up in Europe, where her father — suffering from manic depression — moves the family around constantly, before finally coming to Canada and settling in Montreal. Leith returned to Europe as a young adult to pursue her education and writing dreams before finally returning to Montreal to embark on a career as a publisher and event organizer.

Leith spoke with The Next Chapter about writing The Girl from Dream City.

Live your dream

"This book is a culmination of years of thinking about what has been a very exciting life, very difficult at times and very challenging. There are many people who dream about becoming a writer. 

"It isn't always easy, and it can take a long time. If that is your dream, you have to live your dream and do it." 

Even as a small child in Northern Ireland, literary powerhouse Linda Leith, has had a life enriched, comforted and defined by books. Every time her parents moved countries or cities, across mountains or oceans - no book was left behind. From shining the first light on the community of English language writers in Quebec to starting Blue Met - the first multilingual literary festival, to writing her own literary non-fiction books and publishing the works of so many others; the newly appointed Officer to the Order of Canada shares why books matter....and how much she loves folk music! 54:00

Main influences

"My parents had an enormous influence on me and within the family. My father was king, my mother was the queen and there was also my grandmother and my mother's mother. They were all readers. The main common denominator in all the different places that we lived was a love and an interest in books.

"I led such a different life as a child, as an adolescent and as a young woman. Nobody I ever knew had similar experiences. I was looking for the words that would apply to the life I was leading. The books that I read, and which I devoured and which I needed, didn't actually talk about any life similar to the one that I knew. 

This book is a culmination of years, of thinking about what has been a very exciting life, very difficult at times and very challenging.

"That is why I had to become a writer myself — because the only way I could read something about the kind of life I had led, was for me to write it first."

Linda Leith's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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