Amanda Leduc, author of The Miracles of Ordinary Men and a participant in this year’s International Festival of Authors, answered our five questions.
Share this article via Facebook or Twitter for your chance to win two tickets to see Amanda on November 3! Don’t forget to tag @IFOA or use #IFOA2013. Good luck!
Amanda Leduc: Miracles came about as a result of two short stories—one that I’d written at 16 and subsequently workshopped, a few years later, during my undergraduate years at the University of Victoria, and another one that I wrote during my time at the University of St. Andrews, when I was doing postgraduate work in creative writing.
The first story concerned a man who was visited by an angel—a thin, bald angel who seemed just as unsure of its place in the world as my main character. I was fascinated by the idea that perhaps even angels don’t always know what’s in store for them, and the story that I wrote in Scotland continued to explore this theme. I switched perspectives around and started to write about a man who transformed into that thin, strange, entirely un-angelic figure. And then Lilah and Timothy popped up as significant characters in the storyline, and things just grew from there. By the time I was halfway through my Masters degree, I was pretty sure I had a novel on my hands. It just took a few more years to get it down.
IFOA: Author Angie Abdou called Miracles “a brave book.” Sex and faith can be intimidating subjects to tackle—especially for a first-time novelist. Did you ever feel like you’d bitten off more than you could chew?
Leduc: All of the time! There were so many moments during the writing of Miracles when I was convinced that I was far too small for the book—not smart enough, not worldly enough and so on. Sometimes I still feel that way. I think the only way that I managed to finish the novel at all was by reminding myself that these things—God, sex and death—are so huge that all you can do is shape an attempt at understanding them. You’re never going to get all of the answers, and at some point you just have to make peace with that.
Likewise, there came a time in the writing of the book when I realized that asking the questions about these big things was what interested me most about the whole process. That’s when things became a little easier—once I realized that the questions I was posing were more important to me than finding all the answers.
IFOA: Do you have any rituals associated with your writing?
Leduc: Tea! Tea is a big ritual. I always have a cup (or an entire teapot) close by when I sit down to my computer. And I generally start my mornings by writing by hand, then move to the computer after half an hour or so of pen-and-paper time.
I like to write in the mornings, usually starting around nine o’clock and working through until one in the afternoon or so. I try to save my afternoons for emails/blogging/other computer business—key word being try!
IFOA: What are you reading right now?
Leduc: I’m about a quarter of the way through Night Film by Marisha Pessl, and really enjoying it. And next up on my TBR pile is Pilgrimage, the debut novel by Edmonton-based author Diana Davidson.
IFOA: Finish this sentence: It’s hard to believe, but…
Leduc: …I actually have a book out in the world with my name on it! My five-year-old self (who wrote, “I want to be an AUTHOR”, in her school notebook) would be very pleased.
Amanda Leduc has had her short stories, essays and articles published in Canada, the USA and the UK. She is one of the co-creators of Bare It For Books, a calendar that features nearly-nude Canadian authors and is being sold to benefit PEN Canada. She will discuss tackling faith and religion in her fiction alongside authors Hari Kunzru and Mary Swan on November 3.