Lynn Thomson: I wrote about birding with Yeats, rather than any other time in my life, because that’s what the people at House of Anansi commissioned. They thought it was unusual for a teenaged boy to want to spend hours alone in the forest with his mother, and they wondered what the story was behind that. I was confident that people would be interested in this topic because whenever I described one of our birding expeditions to my writing group, they loved it. They wanted more. Of course, the book isn’t only about our bird watching—it also encompasses stories of bookselling, family, how we learn to let go of our children…
IFOA: How has Yeats been with the attention?
Thomson: Yeats is really proud of me. He decided early on that he wasn’t going to be in my limelight, if I have any, so he’s staying in the background. He gets a bit tired of people asking if he’ll sign the book (which he won’t do), but otherwise, he seems okay with it all.
IFOA: What are your favourite or typical places to write?
Thomson: My favourite place to write is at my desk in our “library” on the second floor of the house. My sister gave me her old desk, which is a lovely wooden desk with brass handles on the drawers and a faux leather top. It faces the window with a view of the street and our big mountain ash tree in the front yard. The room is filled with books.
Thomson: I’ve always read a great deal. I don’t know that I would have read any differently if I wasn’t a bookseller, but in my job I’m exposed to books I may not have seen otherwise. I think that reading a wide variety of styles and voices, to say nothing of stories, gave me confidence that my story was worth telling. On the other hand, I know very well that there is an awful lot of competition out there and that not everyone’s book is going to succeed. I tried not to let that idea take sway while I worked on the book!
IFOA: What have you read in the past six months that you really loved?
Thomson: There are some really great new books out there right now. I loved Miriam Toews’ book All My Puny Sorrows, Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk and Nadia Bozak’s El Niño. I’d also recommend a very fun, tongue-in-cheek look at lawyers: Bay Street by Philip Slayton.
Lynn Thomson is a bookseller in Toronto. She will present her first book, Birding with Yeats, a touching memoir about a mother, her son and the wonder of the natural world, alongside memoirists Plum Johnson and Priscila Uppal on May 28th.