We talk with Montreal-based author Fanie Demeule of the haunting, minimalist novel
Lightness (Linda Leith Publishing) — which won the Best First Novel Prize in French and has since been translated into English by Anita Anand — about the opposite of writer's block, her influences, and how her writing rituals mirror what she writes.
FD: Autofictions, memoirs, short stories, screenplays, essays, fantasy and horror novels, history books, tarot cards. I’m also very curious about interviews with artists.
ALU: What’s one book you always recommend?
FD: Beloved by Toni Morrison
ALU: What are your must-read literary websites/publications? FD:
Ma Querelle by Lily Pinsonneault and Catherine Voyer-Léger’s
ALU: Do you have any rituals that you abide by when you’re writing?
FD: I love to write from 4-8 in the morning because everything is silent and I’m still in my head. More and more, I create music playlists on Spotify to immerse myself in the atmosphere of each project. Before I get started, I meditate and make myself something like a triple espresso. Funny combo, I know, but I find it somehow representative of what I write: both contemplative and panicked.
ALU: Why do you write?
FD: I couldn’t not write, it’s vital. Writing allows me to breathe normally. This is also the way I express myself best, and with the most sincerity.
Fanie's writing space
ALU: Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What did you do about it?
FD: I rather have the opposite problem: too many ideas to manage at the same time. I often have a boiling brain, almost never a block. I must stop myself from dispersing.
ALU: What’s the toughest part about being a writer?
FD: Sometimes doubting too much about what we are doing. And not knowing if all the evenings and events sacrificed will have been worth it. But the truth is whether a project “works” or not doesn't matter. The important thing is that we learn from it and evolve as an author no matter what. That is what I try to remind myself in rough times.
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While waiting to move to Scotland, Fanie Demeule lives in Longueuil, on Montreal’s south shore, with her dear Gabriel and some quiet ghosts. For the moment, this location is very practical since it allows her to get to UQAM
(Université du Québec à Montréal) in no time, where she is completing her doctorate and teaching. It also brings her closer to the office of Productions Somme tout, where she works as an editor for the publishing houses Tête première and Hamac. She enjoys crossing the Jacques Cartier Bridge by bike and returning to her silent suburban street at the end of the day.
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Thanks so much to Fanie for answering our questions, and to Linda Leith Publishing for making the connection. Lightness is available on All Lit Up.
All Lit Up is produced by the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo. LPG and LitDistCo acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.
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