Frequently Asked QuestionsHow do you keep writing when you're blocked or can't think of anything?
My only good advice is that when you decide you're going to be a writer, you don't have any other choice. No one's going to yell at you to keep writing (although my husband does once in a while, but I generally ignore him) or take marks off for being late handing in your "assignment." But for me, stopping partway through a book is a little like putting in half of the foundation for a house. I basically just sit in front of my computer until a spark goes off in my brain and I can keep going. Sometimes a change of scenery helps.
How can you write in so many different genres?
I've always followed my inspiration, and written whatever captures my attention for the length of time it takes me to finish a book (anywhere between one and four years).
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Toronto, and have lived in the west end my entire life, with the exception of brief excursions to St. Catherines, Ontario (4 months-4 years old), Buenos Aires, Argentina (for four months after high school, to visit family) and Montreal, Quebec (for half a year, while working on my first book).
What were you like as a kid/teenager?
As a child, I was an extroverted loner (it might sounds like a paradox) and I always had a book or ten on the go. The first place my parents let me visit on my own was the Parkdale Library, where I worked my way through the kids' and young adult sections, and onto stuff like mythology and their extensive Caribbean collection.
On weekends, I organized garage sales where neighbourhood kids sold their broken toys, and forced my friends to act in plays with plots plucked from my imagination. We charged five cents for our parents to watch us run around giggling. I was in choir and always desperately wanted to sing the solos (but was never asked). I loved being in school plays, but was always given unfortunate bit parts, like Sleepy Dwarf or la petite fille qui pleure (the little girl who cries). In response, while I was in Grade 6, I decided to rewrite the Wizard of Oz as a play in French, using my mother's typewriter. I cast all the kids in my class (I was going to be the Scarecrow, for some reason) but never actually finished the script.
Later, I remember some wicked hide-and-seek and spin-the-bottle games. High school is a blur of miniskirts, violin lessons, choir practices, beach parties, and football quarterbacks. Oh, and skipping class to protest the first Gulf war... or just to skip class.
Where do you get your ideas?
My entire life is one big writing idea. Sometimes my friends and family hate me for that. People on the bus, conversations I catch snatches of, and lines I read in books akk To be honest, many of the things that move me to write are really mundane, like walking around the city, going to movies, art shows, and listening to music. Occasionally, I'll read a story in the newspaper or a magazine that stays with me.
Who influences your work?
Many people, from musicians to filmmakers to people in my family influence my work. I've read everything I can get my hands on by the following authors: Francesca Lia Block (Girl Goddess #9); Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials series); Golda Fried (Darkness, Then a Blown Kiss); Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring); Ninjalicious (Access All Areas); Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude); Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits); Marge Piercy (Vida); Sara Paretsky (Blacklist); Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street); Jaime and Gilberto Hernandez (Love and Rockets comics); and Stan Lee (creator of so many Marvel comics).
Did you always know you were going to be a writer?
Reading is the one thing I always loved to do as a kid. But I never actually thought I would turn out to be a writer until my mid-twenties, when a friend showed me a copy of his zine, Celtic Pamplemousse, and encouraged me to make my own. After that, it was as if I had no other choice
How long have you been making zines?
Back in my early twenties, I started publishing my writing and trading my first zines. They were all one-off publications with names like We Have Lives and Throat Flower. Then I found a partner in crime, visual artist Paola Poletto, and we collaborated for a few years. We started Kiss Machine magazine together, in 2000, and at the time it was a humble endeavour with hand-painted covers and artwork inserts. Over the years, I developed it into a pretty little magazine with a glossy cover. I'm not acutally running it anymore, but you can still send your love letters, hate mail, and queries to me (if you really want).
Why do you like publishing your own comics and stuff?
Controlling both the medium and the message is a great learning experience for any writer. It gives you insight into what's going on behind the scenes to connect your book/comic/work with readers. Writing is a very insular activity and so I love getting immediate feedback on my work. Self-publishing is a great way to break down barriers between yourself and readers.
Do you do readings and workshops?
Yep, all the time. You can find out about upcoming events here and via my blog. I seem to update my blog a little more often.