The Three Rs: Anakana Schofield

September 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, essays, and literary criticism. She has contributed to the London Review of Books blog, The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, the Globe & Mail, and the Vancouver Sun. Schofield’s recent collaborative work, “Rooms,” can be read at Boulder Pavement, and she has work forthcoming in Little Star. She has lived in London and Dublin, and now resides in Vancouver. Malarky is her first novel.

When did you first know you wanted to write books?

In my twenties I wrote a play about Katherine Mansfield, then I decided I wanted to write an Icelandic novel about two post-women. That all became rather absurd, so I settled towards writing within a setting I was more familiar with.

What does your day look like while you’re writing a book? 

My day looks very identical. I work, writing horse racing and gambling and poker news, three days a week to feed us; I also write literary criticism. I have two other days where I write or wander about in a very small circle inside my very small apartment fretting about the work I haven’t gotten done. I feel very tired. I have a son. I drink tea. We watch comedies. Night falls. The days feel like they have very, very few hours in them. I pay plenty attention to the weather.

Do you type or write?

I type mainly, but I also write longhand. My son’s granny bought me the most incredible pen for my book launch. It’s a Sailor pen. Bella. Yahoy!

What do you read while you’re writing?

Everything. Less fiction though, but plenty, plenty redundant information. If I am very sad or stressed I sometimes read books on how to build a shed. I have been known to watch videos on YouTube about plumbing and building cupboards. I love to read the long-form essays in the NYRB and the LRB.

What have you read recently that you really loved? 

This year has been so very busy with travel and publicity/writing related to Malarky coming out that I’ve been strapped for reading time. I have been reading Robert Walser’s work and that intrigued me. I read it alongside Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr Fox. It was lovely, as though the two writers were singing back and forth to each other. Also, I just finished Zadie Smith’s NW. But the book that became a departure for my own work was Tony Judt’s memoir The Memory Chalet. I wrote a commissioned collaboration for Boulderpavement called Rooms, in response to one idea in Judt.

In terms of Canadian fiction I read Anne Fleming’s Gay Dwarves of America and found plenty to admire in it and Tamara Faith Berger’s Maidenhead. I attempted to read a bunch of other Canadian novels but they proved too middlebrow for me. Oh, and Mary Robison–I read one of her earlier novels and it was so incredible that I had to stop reading it. In the last few years I read plenty BC fiction (or chunks of it) from way back, which was very fulfilling.

What are your all-time favourites?

I love George Eliot’s Middlemarch, John McGahern’s work, Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness, Georges Perec, Georges Bataille, Helen Potrebenko’s Taxi, Edward Lewis Wallant’s The Tenants of Moonbloom. I don’t really have all-time favourites. I think of literature on a continuum, a line, I want to add to it, to reread, to dart here and there. I can appreciate a book for a single paragraph if I contemplate where that paragraph led from or leads too in another parallel work or where else it might lead me. I am not always reading for the “whole”.

You can either write or read for the rest of your life – but not both. Which do you choose?

Oh reading most certainly. Writing is a very difficult process for me. I’d contract it out to someone else in the morning.

What’s your third R, and why?  

My third R is ramble-ations. Mental and physical rambling. I like to have adventures where I imagine myself more capable than I am. So I do a bit of woodwork, a bit of sledge hockey, a bit of knitting. I am pretty dreadful at all of them, but they are part of my rambles. I love to take walks with my son, where we have very funny, rambling conversations. They begin in the absurd. It’s a ploy to get him to walk. We have the same sense of humour which is very handy. (We have very different personalities–he’s taught me all I know about introverts.) When he was much younger we would walk and read aloud. So our rambles now are an extension of that, though usually preceded by a vehement protest from him wherein he refuses to go. (Such are teen lads.)


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