Raised in Alberta, Emma Hooper is a musician and writer. As a musician, her solo project “Waitress for the Bees” tours internationally and has earned her a Finnish Cultural Knighthood. Her debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, was an international bestseller and was published in 24 countries. She is a research-lecturer at Bath Spa University but comes home to Canada to cross-country ski as much as she can afford.
Emma has been selected for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist for her novel, Our Homesick Songs.
Do you have a favourite passage/quote from a book?
I had a tape of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as a very young child, that I used to listen to to get to sleep. The passage:
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws
Really stuck in my head. I’d get out of bed and rewind the tape to hear it again, and again. I memorized it and recited it over and over to my parents and bored siblings. I didn’t really even process the words, it was the rhythm and the sounds of the words I loved. I think it might be to blame for my current music-lit life.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I like to go to a café or library with a writer friend (or two) and sit down and ignore each other for whole mornings or afternoons or both while we both write. The actual place itself doesn’t matter as much as the combined solidarity/peer-pressure. We agree on an amount of time, 2.5 hours, say, and work across the table from each other in silence, then, after the allotted time, get to finally say a proper hello, discuss our lives, and that of our friends and colleagues, complain about writing problems, etc etc, until it’s time to get another hot chocolate and then ignore each other a bit more.
Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?
I have a spreadsheet. I write down the book’s title and author and a line or two of thoughts about it. Then I spend the next few weeks asking everyone I encounter if they’ve read it because what I really want is a full-on book-club style discussion of every book I ever read. But usually, this just means me pestering everyone a lot to read more.
What are you reading now?
Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin. Partially for time-period research, but mostly just because I realized I hadn’t read anything by her in a long, long, time, and, therefore, should.
What is your favourite CanLit read?
For the most part, I consume my CanLit like my vegetables: super-fresh. I get really excited about brand new things as they come out. New things by new voices, new things by old voices. I have less drive to read old classics than I probably should have, maybe because they were so heavily put to us all through school. I certainly have respect for the pillars of CanLit, and of literature in general, but it’s just so exciting to be reading on the edge.
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