The Three Rs: Rae Spoon

September 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

The autumn season of author interviews kicks off with musician and writer Rae Spoon, whose first novel, First Spring Grass Fire, was published last year.

When did you first know you wanted to write books?

I read a lot as a child. It provided an escape for me, and opened up possibilities for me to re-imagine my world. I started playing guitar when I was eleven, and I began writing songs shortly after that. I thought for a long time that lyrics would be the only way I expressed myself through words, but a few years ago I began writing short stories as part of a larger project. A filmmaker had begun filming me for a musical documentary produced by the NFB, and she asked me for some material to help her sketch out the film’s narrative. I discovered I had a lot to write about, and those early pieces eventually turned into my first novel. I actually didn’t know I wanted to write books until I wrote one, and now I’m working on a second.

How does writing fit into your typical day?

It depends on where I am. When I’m on tour, writing happens much more haphazardly. I might be on an airplane, or a bus, and I’ll get out my laptop and start writing. Sometimes I’ll write while I’m in a hotel room, or waiting at the airport. Tours can be unpredictable, and often they’re very busy, but they usually come with a few long stretches of time where I can be by myself and write.

When I’m at home, I often spend most of my time either writing or making music. I usually don’t do both in the course of a day, and I never really know which one I’m going to do until I go to my office and begin. Sometimes I’ll go a week or two without writing, especially if I’m busy with music, but I always come back to it.

Do you type or write by hand?

I like to type because I find that if I’m writing by hand my writing gets messy quite quickly and it’s difficult to read later on.

What have you read recently that you loved?

I read Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist last year and I think it’s a fantastic novel. I really like how she portrays the ways that other people’s expectations of us, particularly with regard to gender, and, in this story, masculinity, affect our lives.

What are your all-time favourites?

I actually don’t have any all-time favourite books. I find that my experience of reading a book is very rooted in what’s happening in my life at that moment, and so often the last book I’ve read becomes my favourite until I begin the next one.

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

I would choose to write. Communicating my own experience through words, first with song lyrics and more recently with narrative, has always been really important to me and I wouldn’t want to give it up.

What’s your third R?

Music, or re-mixing, if I have to choose a word that begins with ‘r.’


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