25th Trillium Award

On the Road with Miranda Hill: The IFOA Ontario Interview Series

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Miranda Hill (photo credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

Many of Ontario's most passionate and dedicated readers live in communities spread across the province, so the International Festival of Authors (IFOA), now in its 33rd year, is taking its show on the road to bring its exciting program of literary events to 14 locations throughout Ontario. From October 16th to November 2nd, outstanding authors from Canada and across the world will visit Barrie, Brantford, Burlington, Hamilton, Markham, Midland, Parry Sound, Picton, Orillia, Owen Sound, Thunder Bay, Uxbridge, Windsor and Woodstock.

Today Open Book catches up with Miranda Hill, who will be reading in Parry Sound on Monday, October 29, along with Ned Beauman, Annabel Lyon and Susan Swan. Miranda's recently released debut fiction collection, Sleeping Funny (Doubleday Canada) , includes the Journey Prize-winning story "Petitions to Saint Chronic."

For more information about the IFOA Ontario: Parry Sound, visit our Events Page.

Open Book:

Tell us about what you?ll be reading at this year?s IFOA Ontario festival.

Miranda Hill:

One nice thing about having a book of stories like Sleeping Funny to plug, is that there is a whole roster of reading possibilities to choose from: in this case, nine separate stories with different voices, time periods and moods. I like to eyeball the crowd on the night of any event and think what they might like to hear. Could it be ?Apple,? a story about a 14 year-old in a sex ed class where all of the students suddenly can see each other?s conceptions? Maybe ?Because of Geraldine,? in which three grown women look back after 30 years to figure out what happened when their father?s country-singer girlfriend came to town? Or possibly ?Precious,? a dark fairytale that I like to think of as my Tim Burton story — grungy sets and bright costumes — that examines how people measure value in a family, a community, the world.


What are you most looking forward to about reading in the town of your IFOA Ontario event?


I?m looking forward to reading with the other authors: Annabel Lyon and Susan Swan — I?m a fan of both — and Ned Beauman, who is someone whose work I have yet to discover. (I wonder how I?ve missed him!) It?s great company to be keeping in Parry Sound, and I am looking forward to being part of the audience, as well as a reader. That engagement between performers, the show that you can put on together, is one of the best things about being on book tour, and one of the most satisfying elements of bringing your work to a new community.


How do you manage the shift between being solitary writer and a public reader?


It almost requires two different selves — one to perform and respond to real live human beings, and one to move more slowly, to consider and contemplate and create. I like to do both, but there are times when I am out and taking on the more social part of my writerly role when I want to tap on the door of that quieter me and ask, ?Is everything OK? You?re still in there, right??


What is one luxury you allow yourself when you go "on tour" with a book?


New clothes. I was horrified back in September when I started packing the bag for the first part of my tour. Comfy sweaters and scuffed boots are good for life at home and in my writing room, but I wasn?t sure I wanted to see them captured in photographs and tweeted and retweeted. A couple of new outfits were in order.


What book (aside from your own) will you have with you in your bag while you travel to the location of your IFOA Ontario reading?


I love short stories and must have them with me at all times. Right now, I?m catching up on the work of fellow short story writers published this season. So there?s a good chance I?ll be carrying Steven Heighton?s The Dead Are More Visible (Knopf Canada) and Elisabeth de Mariaffi?s How to Get Along with Women (Invisible Publishing). Or maybe I will bring along a book that has been waiting on my bedside table: Malarky (Biblioasis), by Anakana Schofield. In addition to the story and the style, which I have read so much about, it has the added benefit of being compact — always a factor when choosing a good book for the road.

Visit litontour.com for more details about IFOA Ontario.

Miranda Hill won the 2011 Journey Prize for her story, "Petitions to Saint Chronic." Hill holds a degree in drama from Queen's University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She is the founder and executive director of Project Bookmark Canada. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, writer Lawrence Hill. In her debut collection of short stories, Sleeping Funny (Doubleday Canada), Hill presents a wide range of characters from a world that is both recognizable and askew. Visit Miranda at her website, mirandahill.com.

For more information about Sleeping Funny please visit the Random House Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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