The Summer Reading Series – Allison BaggioPosted: June 25, 2012
Time for the next Summer Reading Series instalment! I’m thrilled to have ALLISON BAGGIO visiting us today. She’s going to talk about the books she’s passionate about. I’m going to tell you where you can find Allison’s books! She is also an author.
KC: What book are you reading right now? And what are your thoughts on it so far?
ALLISON: I am usually reading a whole pile of books at once. I keep them at different places in my house and when I’m there I’ll pick them up. Sometimes a book will really catch my attention and I will carry it around with me–then I know I’ve found something really special. So, I’ll pick one for you–The Last Hiccup by fellow ECW author, Christopher Meades. It just happens to be on my nightstand so I usually read this one for a bit after I put the kids to bed. The book is about a young boy in 1930s Russia who comes down with a chronic case of hiccups and how this infliction changes his life. This is not the type of book I would usually pick up, however, Christopher has officially drawn me into his quirky little world. I am so impressed with the quality of writing in this book . . . one of the blurbs on the back says “Each sentence is a tiny masterpiece” and it is definitely true.
KC: That sounds like a book I NEED to read! Thanks for the rec. As a writer, you most likely spend a lot of your time editing. Do you find it hard to turn off the internal editor when you are reading for pleasure? Do you ever find yourself being drawn out of story because you know there’s a better way to write the last sentence you just read? Or are you able to turn the writer/editor off when you are reading for pleasure?
ALLISON: Funny you should ask this. I just took a book on vacation with me. A pretty popular book. Well, okay, I’ll just say it, Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I love a memoir that involves any sort of adventure so I knew I would love this story (and I did!), however, I found myself overwhelmed by the large number of unnecessary adverbs in the book. “Elegantly, hesitantly, unglamourously, awkwardly” — I think she used everyone possible at least once, and sometimes many in the same sentence!
I often found myself reading out the heavily adverb-ed sentences to my husband in shock, and that really took me out of the story. Instantly. And unrelentingly. Usually I am able to shut this sort of internal editor off, but since I just finished the final edits on my next book, I was really stuck in that mindset. I think this problem is getting worse the more editing I do, and the more obsessive I get about my own writing. Undeniably.
KC: Great answer! (-: Top 5 Favourite Novels?
ALLISON: Oh gosh, let’s see. Top of my mind:
- Room by Emma Donoghue
- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
- The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy
- Far to Go by Alison Pick
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Seybold
KC: I was blown away the first time I read A Complicated Kindness. I think that book may have changed my reading habits. Do you have a favourite autobiography? If so, tell us about it.
ALLISON: How about Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. In it, he tells his life story of growing up in India and his experiences with meditation and yoga. I read most of this book on my honeymoon ten years ago and still intend to finish it. No, really! I will say that it probably influenced some parts of my first novel, Girl in Shades.
KC: I love that answer more than you’ll know. That book was a bible for me in the late 80s early 90s. I adore it! Any recommendations for books on writing?
ALLISON: I think Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best ones out there and I actually have had a recent desire to re-read it (I’ve just remembered one of the quotes from the book: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs” hmmmm). Also, writers should pick up Work Book: Memos & Dispatches on Writing by Steven Heighton–it is like no other writing book I’ve read and gives some very poignant insights into how to make sense of the writing life.
KC: Who were your favourite authors as a child? Your favourite books?
ALLISON: I was a big Judy Blume fan. All her books.
KC: Your favourite authors as an adult?
ALLISON: Miriam Toews, Barbara Gowdy, Brian Francis–all the other great Canadian authors I’ve connected with who are out there writing what they have to write and not giving up.
KC: Book covers seem to be getting a lot of buzz these days. In Twitterverse, there are Cover Reveals almost daily. I think it’s safe to say we’re in an age where it is more common practice to actually judge a book by its cover. Do you have any favourite covers? Do they have any pull on your decision to read a book?
ALLISON: I am quite fond of the covers they have given to my own books so far, and I think that is a good thing to feel because yes, people DO judge books by their outsides. I’m surprised at the number of times someone will post a just cover and someone will respond, “That looks really good. I want to read it.” But it’s true. People do feel more drawn to covers that appeal to them, so we shouldn’t give up on designing great covers!
One interesting cover that comes to mind is the one for The Carnivore by Mark Sinnett. I like that the story is about a hurricane and there are rain drops infused into the cover. Very neat.
Ohhh, and I did love the cover of Brian Francis’s Natural Order
I am definitely more prone to pick up a book if I am attracted to the outside.
KC: I LOVE your book covers. I think they’re both stunning(ly) beautiful! Do you have favourite genres/markets?
ALLISON: Usually adult literary fiction, and some more commercial stuff.
KC: Your 3 desert island books?
ALLISON: Have to go non-fiction for this (I don’t re-read fiction books that much):
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- Home With God: In a Life that Never Ends by Neale Donald Walsh
- Beyond the Horizon by Colin Angus (loved it!)
KC: As a writer, do you ever copy down favourite quotes and pin them up in your writing space for inspiration? If so, what are some of them?
ALLISON: YES! I do this all the time. Right now on my bulletin board I have “Pursue Excellence, Ignore Success”. I think Deepak Choprah said it. I’m also always writing out, “Allow What is To Be” – Eckhart Tolle
KC: I was hoping for that reaction. I too get pretty passionate when I find a golden nugget in something I’m reading. (-: What’s the next title you plan on reading? What drew you to it?
ALLISON: The next book I am planning to read is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I definitely fit the mould of an introvert, and was drawn to this book because, well, I hope to get some more insight into myself (always up for that!).
KC: Is there ONE book that made you decide, ‘This is what I want to do…I want to write!’? Or were there many?
ALLISON: Hmmmm, trying to think back. My need to write bubbled up around grade five when I started to write short stories. I think it was more a need to tell stories, than one book that inspired me.
KC: If you could travel back in time and put your name under any novel title in existence, which one would you choose? Why?
ALLISON: Oh gosh, this is hard. Of course there are books I admire, but the idea of me having written them is a strange one. I just find that creative inspiration is such a personal thing, I can’t imagine having written anything besides what I myself was inspired to write. I think I’ve answered The Time Traveller’s Wife to a similar question. So…. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Allison Baggio. (No, I just can’t get my mind around that.)
KC: As a writer, who do you write for? Anyone/Anything in particular?
ALLISON: I guess I have to say, me. I write for the pure joy I feel while I am doing it, and the satisfaction I feel afterwards. I hope I can always write for me, because I think that the process of thinking about what people will think of what you write, has probably ruined many a good author.
KC: Okay, since you are published yourself…I’m going to be linking your books below for my readers. Besides these two titles, are there any other works in the hopper? Anything you’re working on that you want to talk about?
ALLISON: I am currently revising a new novel that I am very excited about. It takes place during and shortly after World War 1 and is a fictional story around an actual un-solved murder that happened in 1914. I haven’t received any serious feedback on it yet, so I am still in that “new love” stage with it–which is a nice place to be for now.
KC: Sounds intriguing! I was going to say amazingly and incredibly intriguing…but those lys are just background noise. (-: Can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts today. I enjoyed your responses. We have a lot of suggestions here and you’ve reminded me of more than a couple of books that I’m passionate about. Maybe it’s time to revisit them. Thank you!
ALLISON: Thanks, Kevin!
You can learn more about Allison’s books and visit her online at any of the locations below:
GIRL IN SHADES (GOODREADS) – Sweetly funny and deeply perceptive, this novel follows eleven-year-old Maya Devine’s search for her mother, her father, and above all, herself, offering a fresh take on what it means to grow up and discover who you really are. Maya has always seen color around people’s bodies, and can sometimes even hear what’s going on inside their heads. These insights make everyone a bit more interesting, but the one person she’ll never figure out is her mother. Marigold has never been like the other moms, but still, Maya sometimes feels like she is all she has.
When Marigold is diagnosed with cancer and vows to spend her final days in the tepee she’s set up in the backyard, neighbors and strangers, believing the dying Marigold to be a prophet, camp out in front of the family’s house. As her father grows ever more distant, Maya finds solace in the music of Corey Hart, but when Marigold’s death leaves questions unanswered, she sets off to discover the truth about her family and identity.
IN THE BODY (GOODREADS): Building on themes introduced in the author’s previous novel, this collection of 12 short stories and a novella, further explores the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. The array of stories includes “Spilt Milk,” in which an ordinary fare leads an Indo-Canadian taxi driver, who is unhappy with his current circumstances, to marry his passenger’s unattractive sister. In “Possessed,” a man receives a heart transplant and begins to suspect that his new heart is still attached to its old owner, triggering a psychological thrill ride.
In the novella, “As She Was,” a motorcycle accident leaves a teenage girl with a serious brain injury that dramatically alters her personality and body. The five people closest to her must reflect on who she was in order to accept who she has become, revealing the details of the accident and their own feelings of guilt in the process. Showcasing a range of voice and breadth of vision, this anthology marries a gentle probing of familial relationships with an incisive look at the human body, exploring the ways it defines, fails, and frees humanity.