Q & A with Farzana Doctor

coffee with VS

Q & A with contributor Farzana Doctor

This week’s Q & A is with novelist Farzana Doctor. Based in Toronto, Farzana’s last novel, Six Metres of Pavement, was named one of Now Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2011. It also won the Lambda Literary and Rainbow Awards (2012) and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award. She was named as one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now” and was the recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant (2011). In autumn 2012 she was Writer in Residence at the Toronto Public Library. She co-curates the Brockton Writers Series. Read an excerpt from Six Metres of Pavement (previously posted on CommuterLit) here.

CL: What skills or attributes does a writer need, beyond writing ability, to make it in today’s market?

FD: I think writers really need to develop self-promotional skills. Publishers help with publicity but these days it’s the author’s job to find opportunities to share and sell their work. That means touring, blogging, talking with readers and the media. Last January I organized a 10 event/four city tour in India, which was one of the hardest promotional efforts to date, but also the most rewarding.

CL: What themes regularly occur in your work and why? What is it about those themes that grab you?

FD: Loss comes up again and again in my work, likely because my mother died when I was a young girl. Lately, I’ve been rethinking loss and its impact on me and I expect that this will morph some of the ways that loss is manifested in the work.

CL: What are you working on now?

FD: I’m working on my third novel, which is turning into a sexy and ghostly novel about a young woman working in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort. I’d expected sexuality to be a main theme, but it’s in the third (or maybe it’s the 10th? This novel has been slippery) rewrite that a ghost character has arrived to guide her.

CL: What authors/books are you currently reading and why?

FD: I’ve recently read two very different first novels by Chinese-Canadian women that I loved. The first is by Janie Chang called Three Souls. It is set in 1920s China. Carrianne Leung’s book, The Wondrous Woo, is set in 1980s Scarborough [a Toronto suburb]. Both address issues of dying, the afterlife and identity in unique ways.