Zoe Whitall, the author of The Best Kind of People was the final reader and treated the audience to the opening chapter of her book. Her book shares the feelings of a family in turmoil once the husband/father is arrested for sexual assault. It is a timely account of rape culture which has been, unfortunately, a frequent topic in the news.
While some novelists don’t tend to read while they are writing, Whittall likes to read an opposite type of book, while she writes fiction, she will pick up a non-fiction book. When asked about her favourite books she said, that up until this year, it would have been By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (one of the books that I am looking forward to reading in my question to complete the CBC List of 100 Novels that Make You Proud to be Canadian). When asked at the event, she noted that her favourite book at changed after reading The Argonauts by Maggie Wilson – three times in the last year.
Like Mona Awad, she shared that she had been skeptical about completing and MFA program yet it really pushed her to read outside her comfort zone. It is great to be pushed out of your literary comfort zone and many of my followers who are looking forward to participating in the 2017 Canadian Content Bingo Challenge in the Goodreads group will have this experience reading books that they might not normally choose.
When sharing advice, she told the audience when writing the “first draft to allow yourself to write something terrible and then to extract the good moments“. She herself had been writing this book for 7 years yet it is so timely to be published in a time when rape culture is in the headlines. She could not avoid mentioning how present it is in the American presidential campaign with election taking place today as this blog entry is posted.
She shared that the genesis of this book had come while listening to a CBC program featuring how the wife in the high profile Russell Williams case had struggled to deal with his terrible crimes. Whittall knew that she did not want to write a crime story yet she was interested in the emotions of the people closest to the perpetrator. She said that it had been a “struggle to have empathy for everyone in the book” which is why the accused had very little presence.
Whittall’s book is a thought provoking read which allows the reader to explore the impact of sexual crimes on the family. I am happy to have a signed copy to add to my collection and look forward to what this young writer will do next.
By now readers will know the results of the exciting Scotiabank Giller Prize announcement. Look for my final author post about Between the Pages and a Giller prize wrap up with more pictures later tonight. Until then…. get reading!!