A Q&A with Amy Spurway, author of Crow

Cover courtesy of Goose Lane Editions

This Sunday, author Amy Spurway will be reading from her new novel, Crow, at the Saint John Free Public Library as part of the 2018-2019 Lorenzo Reading Series. Spurway’s reading will begin at 2:00 p.m. and we are thrilled to have her! For more information on the reading, you can check out the event page on Facebook. Be sure to “like” the Lorenzo Society for important updates.

Spurway chatted with the Lorenzo Review earlier this week about her writing career, Crow, and books that she is passionate about. To learn a bit more about Amy Spurway before Sunday’s reading, check out the interview below!

Q: What inspired you to become a novelist?
A: Even though I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, I never really set out to become a novelist. But when the idea for Crow – especially the main character’s voice – grabbed hold of me, there wasn’t much choice. I needed to tell this story and explore these ideas, and a novel was the only thing that made sense. It wasn’t a format I’d attempted before, not something I’d studied deeply, and not something I’d ever imagined myself doing, so I was really flying by the seat of my pants throughout the process. The characters’ voices and the story itself are ultimately what drove me to become a novelist.

Q: Are novels your preferred form of writing or do you also enjoy writing poetry/articles, etc?
A: I love any kind of writing that taps into emotion, whether that be expressing or eliciting it. My first love was writing for performance – speeches, scripts, plays – but I find that many of the same skills and techniques can be applied to writing novels, creative non-fiction, poetry, or even articles or advertising copy. Any kind of writing that lets me tap into voice, explore feelings, and toy with language in evocative and provocative ways is my preferred form.

Q: How would you describe Crow to someone who has not yet read it?
A: Crow is the story of a woman with nothing left to lose. She’s been diagnosed with a trio of brain tumours and her life in Toronto is already falling apart, so she hightails it back home to Cape Breton to live with her mother. There, she plans to settle a few scores, set some records straight, and haul all the family skeletons out of the closet. But, of course, things don’t go quite as planned.

Q: What was the inspiration behind Crow?
A: The story was initially inspired by the existential crisis I had after my twin daughters were born and I began to think hard about my own mortality. That sparked two questions for me: what does it mean to have a good death? And even more importantly, what does it mean to have a good life? I knew I had to write my way through these big, heavy questions somehow, and that it had to be done with love and humour. That’s when the story, and the character of Stacey Fortune – better known as Crow – began to emerge.

Photo by Alex Pearson of A.S. Pearson Photography

Q: What authors and/or books inspire you the most and why?
A: Salman Rushdie and Kurt Vonnegut are two of my favourite authors, probably for very similar reasons. They had backgrounds in advertising and copywriting, and I think that shows up their work, stylistically, in a way that I deeply appreciate. Both are very playful in their use of language, even as they explore serious political, social and existential issues. Their work is infused with pop culture references. They use unreliable narrators and integrate magical and fantastical elements into these very real-feeling stories. And both tend to careen between the profound and the profane, which I adore. Whenever I need a hit of authorial inspiration, I pull out Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five or Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Q: Finally, what do you hope readers will take away from Crow?
A: Hopefully, readers come away from Crow having laughed and cried, at least a little. Beyond that, this story is an invitation to think and talk about what really matters to us. What secrets do we keep and why? Are we looking for truth or for meaning? What does it mean to have a good death and a good life? Crow may not provide any answers, but it is more about the questions themselves, and the conversations they can inspire.

With a March 26th publication date, attendees of Sunday’s Lorenzo reading will be getting an exclusive sneak preview of Crow that very few others have had, along with the opportunity to purchase the book before it officially hits bookstore shelves in a few weeks. Spurway will be signing books and answering questions following the reading, so this isn’t an event that fans of the Lorenzo Reading Series want to miss!

Crow is Spurway’s first novel, and it is an incredible addition to the CanLit canon. We at the Lorenzo Review cannot wait to see what she does next.

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