Author of the Month: Zoe Whittall

zoe-whittallTell us about yourself.

I’m a novelist and poet. I sometimes write for film and television, and freelance as a literary critic. I’m a cat lady. I live in Toronto.

When did you realize you had a passion for writing?

When I was about 12 years-old I was a voracious reader, and in grade six I became obsessed with writing “novels.” They were basically long short stories, hand-written, and bound between thick pieces of wallpaper samples and stapled together.

What pieces of writing/authors have had the greatest impact on you?

The answer to this question changes all the time. But when I was young I was really impacted by Montreal writer Gail Scott, novels by American authors Sarah Schulman and Eileen Myles, The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, Cruddy by Lynda BarryAutobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Too many poets to mention, really.

How and when do you find time to write?

I write or edit every day that I’m not at another job. I treat it like my full-time occupation, even if it’s not actually my full-time occupation at the time.

What has been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Writing my third literary novel has been difficult because it was a real stylistic departure for me, and the first time writing in third person. It was challenging, but in a good way, in that I don’t want to keep writing the same books over and over again, and you have to take risks to avoid stagnation.

How have you changed as a writer over the years?

Yes, I am far less confident, strangely, as my writing improves. This next book will be my 7th. It doesn’t get easier! But it’s always interesting.