• Carmen Marie Fabio

Author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald coming to StoryFest


Award-winning author and playwright Ann-Marie Macdonald will be giving a reading at the StoryFest Literary Festival in Hudson October 7.

What goes through the mind of a writer who is deftly able to, with disconcertingly detailed accuracy, lead the reader on decades-long journeys of epic familial dramas through everything from suicide and an inadvertent baby drowning to deviant crimes carried out by the seemingly most innocent of characters?

“It's my job to go to those places,” Ann-Marie MacDonald told Your Local Journal. “It's an act of empathy. I'm just telling you what the ghosts are saying.”

On the heels of her latest release after a 12-year hiatus, MacDonald comes to Hudson’s StoryFest to give a reading from Adult Onset and, possibly, give readers a glimpse into the mind that channels the stories that emerge from her fingertips.

Just when you think you know what to expect from MacDonald's writing, she's lobbed her readers a curve ball in Adult Onset, eschewing the format of her previous tales that meander through expanses of when and where for an almost claustrophobic examination of the minutiae of one week in the life of Mary Rose (MR, or Mister) MacKinnon. And for all its shiny surface perfection of her fair-trade, organic, politically-correct existence, cracks increasingly punctuate Mary Rose's life over the seven-day period as we get to better know all about her – especially that which haunts her.

“I did what writers tend to do in that I tricked myself into thinking I was going to write something simpler and more contained,” said MacDonald of the extreme departure from her two previous works of fiction, Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies, each written within the last two decades. Simple pragmatics of raising two young children with her partner theatre director and playwright Alisa Palmer dictated her current novel's format and despite its stylistic departure, the underlying universal element of perceiving oneself removed from the mainstream eventually, and inevitably, makes its presence known.

“I was my own donor for this book,” she said. “It's not what I set out to do but it's what the book emerged as.” Like children, MacDonald pointed out, “You might expect and wish for a certain type of child but you get the one that you get and you love the one you get. I find creativity works in a very similar way.” And while MacDonald admits to being initially reluctant to heed the call of this particular work, trying to deflect, with other writings including short stories, Mary Rose and her family kept creeping in and demanding a presence.

“This was not the obstacle, this was the point.”

Far from being a cathartic process, MacDonald said the vocation of writing can often feel both terrible and terrifying. “Once people start reading and it gains a momentum of ownership by the audience, then I'm pleased because it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to whoever reads it.”

This will be MacDonald’s first time at Greenwood Centre's StoryFest Literary Festival October 7, in partnership with the Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF) as part of their Writers Out Loud series, and she extends the invitation to readers to join her.

“I love to meet my readers,” she said. “It's my chance, in the lonely marathon which is actually writing, to meet the people who are reading my books. It's nourishing and inspiring, but it's also fun.”

Come join the author October 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Hudson Village Theatre, 28 Wharf Road. Tickets are $15 and are available at Pure Art, 422 Main Road in Hudson, or online at http://theatrepanache.ca/storyfesttickets.html.

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