Welcome to this week’s Author Influences. Today I welcome Sandy Day to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to talk about her favourite books and authors. Sandy has been on my radar for a while as I have read loads of great reviews of her book, Fred’s Funeral. It is a book that I will be reviewing later this year and I will tell you more about it towards the end of this post.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I read all the Anne books- that is, Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery. I read all the Misty books- the horsey ones by Marguerite Henry. And I read all the Jalna books- by Mazo de la Roche. I was into series.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Without even trying, I was a teacher’s pet in the English class. I could read well before the age of six, and I liked to write stories as soon as I could spell- even before! I loved reading, so English class was a breeze to me. I was always writing, so the analyses of texts interested me on a personal level. Receiving positive feedback from teachers served to reinforce my passion for language.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I have always read literary fiction. Every now and then, I dabble in romance or crime or mystery but I don’t really love them unless they’re written in a literary style, that is, lots of metaphor and subtlety and an original use of words and structure. I aim for that in my own writing.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Probably memoir. I’ve always been a bit of a confessional writer and have kept a journal since age eight. My fiction is usually based on real events so it would not be much of a stretch for me to write memoir.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In grade 10 (age fourteen), I was introduced to Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. I have never been as blown away by a work as I was by that book. The subject matter (a cowboy outlaw), turned into poetry, turned into a narrative, mesmerized me. I’ve strived to write like that ever since.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Oh yes. Alice Munro- so sad she’s retired. Miriam Toews- I love her books.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews would be one of those books. The voice of the narrator, the subject matter (a Mennonite teenager living in Manitoba), the language and similes, the story (her complicated relationship with her father) – it’s still the best novel I’ve ever read. Coming-of-age stories are my favourites.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My novel, Fred’s Funeral is based on the life of my Great Uncle, a shell-shocked WWI veteran. I wrote a disclaimer in the front of it apologizing in advance to my relatives for the poetic license I took with the facts. So far, they’ve all given me positive reviews.
Thank you for taking part, Sandy. My TBR pile has just got bigger!
Sandy’s novel Fred’s Funeral is out now. Here is what it’s about:
Only at his funeral, does a family come to know and love a long neglected and shell-shocked soldier from WWI. Based on a true story. Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to war, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the dismal nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish and disparaging sister-in-law. As Viola dominates the remembrance of Fred, his ghost agonizes over his inability to set the record straight. Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he shut away for most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Why didn’t his family help him more? Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.
You can buy a copy HERE.
About Sandy Day
Sandy Day is the author of Poems from the Chatterbox. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy spends her summers in Jackson’s Point, Ontario on the shore of Lake Simcoe. She winters nearby in Sutton by the Black River. Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and book coach.