Out-of-town authors: Frances Greenslade

Skip supper, read Shelter


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There are two things you should know about Pentiction, B.C.-based writer Frances Greenslade. One, she prefers to be called Francie. Two, her latest book caused a furor at this spring’s London Book Fair.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/08/2011 (4179 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There are two things you should know about Pentiction, B.C.-based writer Frances Greenslade. One, she prefers to be called Francie. Two, her latest book caused a furor at this spring’s London Book Fair.

It should go without saying that most writers dream of the words “bidding” and “war” coming in close proximity…

When all was said and done, Greenslade had deals to publish her novel Shelter in Canada, Australia and the U.K. Next year, it’ll be released in the U.S. and there’s both Dutch and German translations in the works.

STUART BISH Greenslade�s writing is slow-paced and careful.

Greenslade had previously published two award-winning memoirs, one based on travels in Ireland and the other focused on her experience of pregnancy and mothering.

She will be reading from Shelter in McNally Robinson’s atrium this Thursday at 7 p.m.

1) As a writer (i.e. someone whose artistic practice is predicated on time spent alone) how do you approach performance? What do you get out of it?

I’m an amateur singer, so I think of reading aloud like singing, except less terrifying. I love the rhythm that comes through in a live reading. It reminds me why I shouldn’t use words like threateningly in my writing.

2) What do you want people to know about Shelter?

It’s about two sisters whose mother leaves them to billet with a family friend in a small B.C. town, and doesn’t return. I hope it’s the kind of novel people will bring to the cottage and read right through the dinner hour, as the sun goes down, and they get a glass of wine instead of supper. Shelter looks at the expectations we have of our mothers, our first shelter, and the shock that comes when we realize they are more than just our mothers, but women with lives that don’t always include us.

3) Will this be your first time in Winnipeg? What have

you heard?

I lived in Winnipeg for many years, from age 11 to 24. For a while, I lived in a friend’s firehall off Corydon. In the tower, I could look out over the treetops of the city and watch the thunderstorms roll in. Now that I live in the semi-desert of the Okanagan, I think of Winnipeg as lush and humid, prairie jungle.

4) What are you reading right now? What are you writing right now?

I’m on a Daphne du Maurier-a-thon. I just finished Jamaica Inn and I’m now reading Rebecca. I’m at work on a second novel called Sing a Worried Song. It’s set in India and in rural Manitoba.

5) Your last two books have focused at least to some extent on mothering and tragedy. Why are the two linked for you? Or is this a coincidence? (Is there such thing as a coincidence?)

Definitely not a coincidence. I think my fascination (or obsession) with the complexities of mothers and mothering comes from two things. My own mother died when I was 24 and I had only just begun to know her as an adult. And my experience of becoming a mother was tumultuous. I hemorrhaged, came very close to dying, and had a long recovery. So I’ve thought a lot about the separation of children from their mothers. It’s almost unbearably sad and yet it’s a necessary part of maturing.


Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer.

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