Monday, September 15, 2008

Miriam Toews Q & A

My interview with Miriam Toews appears online at WE.

Miriam Toews Q & A
By Andrea Warner

Your newest novel, The Flying Troutmans, just came out. Did the writing process this time around get easier versus writing your first book? What was different this time?
I don't think the process ever gets easier. It doesn't for me, at least. It's always about throwing the spaghetti against the wall until it sticks, or whatever. This time around I tried to tell myself that all the time I spent writing stuff I eventually trashed wasn't necessarily a waste of time but just part of the process.

In The Flying Troutmans you deal with the demands of familial obligation and the complicated relationship between sisters. What inspired you to tackle this?
Well, I've always thought that families in general generate a lot of drama.I needed my characters to have a good reason to hit the road. Hattie loves her sister but feels a huge amount of responsibility for her and the kids. We don't always know how to best take care of the people we love but I'm inspired by the ways in which we all try.

The Mennonite community has factored deeply in your previous work (A Complicated Kindness, and the recent film, Silent Light, in which you acted, were set in Mennonite communities). What is your relationship like with religion or spirituality now?
I'm not religious. I still consider myself to be a Mennonite, but a secular one.

Speaking of Silent Light, I reviewed the film and was absolutely heartbroken by your character's emotional bursting in the rain in the forest. What drew you to acting and particularly this film?
That was a pretty intense scene. It's the only acting I've ever done and might be the last. The director of Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, was given a copy of my last book when he was in Germany looking for people to be in his film and then he decided to get in touch with me. At first I said no, but then I thought it would probably be fun and interesting and it was. I learned a lot.

What's next on your work agenda, aside from this book tour?
I'll write another novel. I have a small idea for one and I'm waiting for it to grow a bit. I'm also going to be working on the film script for the Troutmans, together with a great screenwriter by the name of Semi Chellas. I've never written a screenplay but I'm really looking forward to getting to work on it.

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