Carrie Snyder is a literary name many Canadians know. In 2012, she was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for English Fiction (!) for her book The Juliet Stories. And people are pretty excited that she is weeks away from launching her third book, Girl Runner. Please join her at her upcoming book launch on September 6 at the Chainsaw in uptown Waterloo – good times are promised, which may or may not include karaoke.
Carrie always knew she would be a writer and keeps her writing muscles sharp with regular posts on her blog, Obscure CanLit Mama. She ruminates about writing, parenting her four children, juggling life as a mama, wife, runner and writer, and where and how they all intersect, or at times don’t.
“Blogging has given me a regular outlet for my ideas and quite unexpectedly brought connections with other “obscure CanLit” writers, which I’d never imagined,” says Carrie. “It’s also given me a sense of belonging to a larger community. I continue to blog for one simple reason: I love doing it. If it ever stops being a pleasure or feels like an obligatory marketing ploy, I will quit.”
Carrie is also regularly featured in the pages of Waterloo’s own literary journal, The New Quarterly, and has been part of several anthologies, including most recently The M Word, edited by Kerry Clare.
And on the cusp of her next book launch, Carrie and I had a conversation about writing (surprise), writers, literary guilty pleasures and the age old debate: coffee versus tea.
What is the best thing about writing?
The best thing about writing is getting lost in an imagined world. The act of writing draws me in, every day. It’s reflection, meditation, medicine, creation, discovery, purpose, work and sometimes, of course, it’s magic.
You are just about to publish Girl Runner so I imagine that you are busy on the promotion trail or certainly will be soon. This part is so different from the solitary process of writing. How does this kind of thing suit you?
I used to act in high school and university, so I tap into that part of me that gets a kick out of being on stage. There’s an element of risk to any performance. Who knows what will happen? I’m often anxious and keyed-up beforehand, enjoy being “on” in the moment, and experience a high immediately afterward, followed by a steep crash, not emotionally so much as energy-wise. I need time to recover before going “on” again. I prep for readings like I’d prep for any performance. I’m always learning. There’s so much I can’t control: but I can show up well-prepared, and that gives me confidence to be spontaneous, in the moment, and ready for what comes.
When you publish a book, is it hard to let it go as it still feels such a big part of you or are you ready to release it into the universe?
Usually, by the time a book is published, it’s been worked on for so long that it’s a relief to set it free. I think of the publicity stage as a helpful transition period – it allows me to give this book a proper send-off and acknowledge what’s been accomplished, before getting deeply into the next project.
What inspires your creativity?
Being alive. Curiosity. People are infinitely interesting.
What does a typical day look like (if you have one)?
I exercise very early in the morning, get the kids to school, take a quick nap, then spend about six hours in my home office before the kids are back on the scene, and then it’s the mad dash to make supper, shuttle kids to activities, errands, chores, laundry, reading, bed. Repeat. I’ll also be teaching creative writing at UW again this fall, and travelling to promote the book. So not every day looks exactly like that one.
What writer would you give your right arm to meet?
What writer did you meet that surprised or delighted you?
Jess Walter was the funniest, most charismatic on-stage presence I’ve ever met. I read with him at Winnipeg’s Thin Air festival in 2012. And Chris Cleave, whom I read with in Vancouver, also in 2012, was delightful in person, funny, generous, thoughtful. Chatting with him before our panel put me at ease.
What do you read for fun? Do you have a literary guilty pleasure?
Agatha Christie mysteries. I also read a lot of non-fiction. I’m a sucker for anyone who can write a funny essay. David Sedaris comes to mind.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about writing?
If I go way, way back, some very good advice was: Plot matters. Write that down, ‘cause it’s true.
What creative project are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a year-long non-fiction project of dubious value, but I’m loving it.
And now we get down and dirty with the real scoop on Carrie Snyder….
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Coffee. One large cup every morning as I sit down to my computer. Any more, and I suffer from nerves.
What is something that gives you great pleasure?
Running. Going on adventures with my kids. Live theatre. Reading the newspaper while eating leftovers for lunch. Browsing a bookstore (especially Words Worth in uptown Waterloo). Spontaneous socializing.
You wish you had more time to…
Be still, outside.
Tell me three things you can’t live without (but not people).
Something to write with/on, stories, exercise.
What would you rather do? Go dancing, see live music or watch TV?
The thing you most wish for Waterloo Region?
Safer bike and pedestrian routes. The end to by-laws that privilege traffic flow through a neighbourhood rather than kids being allowed to play on the street.
What other arts and culture things do you like to do?
I’ve been loving the Stratford Festival this summer.
What can we do to follow your progress?
Check the events page on my web site: carriesnyder.com.
P.S. Carrie’s favourite topic of conversation: conversations are totally free-flowing. Who knows where we’ll go?
Need to get your hands on a copy of Girl Runner? You can pre-order your book from our friends at WordsWorth Books. And stay tuned for Carrie’s first children’s book The Candy Conspiracy in spring 2015.