Writer’s Block: Connie Gault

The unnamed narrator in Connie Gault’s The Rasmussen Papers (Thistledown Press) becomes so infatuated with late poet Marianne Rasmussen that she begins to infiltrate Marianne’s life. We get our own (much more measured!) infiltration with Connie herself, who joins us for today’s Writer’s Block interview.

A photo of writer Connie Gault. A light skin-toned woman with long dark hair, she wears glassea nd a dark jacket, and stands outside amid fall leaves.


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Writer's Block

All Lit Up: Is there one stand-out moment or experience you had that helped you realize you wanted to become a writer? 

Connie Gault: I wanted to be a writer when I found out the books in our school library were written by people. I’d graduated from Bible stories, Little Golden Books and the Honey Bunch series to the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Nurse Cherry Ames, all of which I’d assumed were written by angels especially for kids like me who were allowed five books a week and read each of them twice. One day I saw my first author photo. It was a man in a tweed jacket with a pipe. I looked at the back of other books and found more men in tweed jackets holding pipes. Even so, I thought I could do it too.

All Lit Up: Do you have a book that you’ve gone back and read several times? 

Connie Gault: There are two books I’ve read more than twice. One is Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts because of her haunting evocation of time and place and her understanding of the place of introverts in communities. The other is Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, but why? I’m drawn in by the river, the weird idea of a man making his living trolling for dead bodies and stealing from them, and his lonely daughter, making hope out of fireplace flames.

All Lit Up: What’s the most surprising thing about being a writer?

Connie Gault: It’s so addictive. Once you get hooked, you can’t imagine life without writing. You feel life isn’t worthwhile if you can’t write. It’s why writers don’t retire, they keep on writing, shifting genres or approaches, maybe, but writing.

A photo of Connie Gault's office. A laptop sits perched on some risers on a wooden desk, with a modern desk chair behind it. Plants, artwork, and a full bookshelf are against the wall. Outside of the floor-to-ceiling window trees are visible.
Connie’s workspace.

All Lit Up: Why do you write? 

Connie Gault: I write because characters come to me, they appear in the almost-flesh in front of me. They arrive in a setting, in a situation that intrigues me and I want to know more.

All Lit Up: Have you experienced writer’s block? What did you do about it? 

Connie Gault: Writer’s block? I get a notebook and a pencil, I lie back in my recliner or in bed, and I write a question, any question, such as, Why can’t I get into this? What should happen next? Why did he do that? Then I start answering the question. Even if the first thing I write is: How should I know? something will come of it. I’ll relent. I’ll write that this section is too hard for me and maybe it doesn’t belong in the novel anyway, it’s only a bridge to a scene I actually want to write. Which one is that? The one about…. and then my imagination takes over from my plodding everyday brain and I write.

All Lit Up: What’s the toughest part about being a writer? 

Connie Gault: Waiting, always waiting for people to respond to your work: readers, agents, editors, reviewers. Waiting is part of submission, the aptly named horror that keeps us humble.

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A photo of writer Connie Gault. A light skin-toned woman with long dark hair, she wears glassea nd a dark jacket, and stands outside amid fall leaves.

Connie Gault has written for stage and radio and film. Her first novel, Euphoria, won a Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and was short-listed for the High Plains Fiction Award and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Novel of Canada and the Caribbean. A Beauty won the 2016 Saskatchewan Book of the Year as well as the award for fiction, and was long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. A former prose editor of Grain magazine, Connie has also edited books of fiction and has taught many creative writing classes and mentored emerging writers. After spending most of her life in Saskatchewan, she now lives in London, Ontario.