Tell us about yourself.
I am a writer living in Toronto with my family that includes a busy husband, Danito, a 17-year-old stepson, Eric, and a very busy 5-year-old son, Teo. I have written two novels: The Electrical Field and One Hundred Million Hearts, and am just finishing a third, as yet untitled. I call myself a late bloomer because that’s what I have been in all aspects of my life—but I also think of myself as a tortoise, who will slowly and finally and happily reach the finish line.
When did you realize you had a passion for writing?
It was in grade 3 when my teacher read one of my stories aloud on Parent/Teacher Night. My mom was very proud. It was about how we had made a sock doll together.
What pieces of writing/authors have had the greatest impact on you?
That would be Another Country by James Baldwin, which I read in high school. It was the first thing I’d ever read that articulated my amorphous thoughts and feelings about race and sexuality. I felt I’d found a special sheltering place from the racism that had been part of my life.
How and when do you find time to write?
I write during the day while my son is in school. I am very fortunate that I’m now able to stay at home and write. I try to write something “good” each day. I write until I feel I’ve achieved that, whether it’s a paragraph or two pages. Of course, the next day, it may not seem acceptable. But that keeps me going from one day to the next.
What has been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?
Self-criticism. Writing requires a leap of faith. There aren’t the usual validations as in conventional jobs, so you have to find ways to buoy yourself up. But the joy of writing keeps me going, and the faith in words to give form to feelings and ideas, to inspire compassion and empathy among readers.
How have you changed as a writer over the years?
Having a family changed me a lot. In the past, I could retreat into seclusion to write and my writing was very introspective. My globe-trotting husband and 5-year-old son pull me out to a wider, fuller world. The worlds I create have grown wider and fuller too.