Debut novelist Sara Flemington's minimalist writing style brings a female-driven, Huckleberry Finn story to life. When two laconic teenage runaways plunge deep into backcountry, they move farther and farther away from civilization in search for an extraordinary place that may or may not exist.
A road trip story is exactly what we need for the summer! How did you first get the idea for your debut novel?
I never actually sat down with the intention to write a road trip story; Egg Island originally began as a short story I was experimenting with, and that I later turned into a longer project. I’d wanted to create a story that did formally what the characters themselves were doing, which was constantly moving; that started and stopped without a clear-cut beginning or ending, and stayed in that propulsive state, in the middle of things. I enjoy experimenting—I find it fun to come up with concepts or constraints and discovering what stories come out of them—but also, thinking back to the moment in time when I started Egg Island, I very much wanted to create movement in my own life, and that restlessness was kind of channeled through there.
In terms of coming up with ideas for the story, the process of writing it was very much like being on a trip into the unknown itself. I very intentionally started it with a narrator already walking, without the context of where she’d been or how long she’d been walking for, but from that point I can only remember discovering the rest of the story along with her. I didn’t plan on her meeting a companion so quickly and getting into a car, or having that companion take her as far as he did. I arrived in each town and diner when they did, got lost when they were, realized how much money they didn’t have as they were counting out their change, etc., and as it continued into a novel, this largely just continued to happen—I followed Julia’s lead, and tried to keep to that sense of movement by mirroring the pace and flow of her journey, physically and emotionally, through the prose.
Speaking of road trips, what song(s) do you think is a must for all road trip playlists?
Elton John, “Tiny Dancer.”
Can't go wrong with that song!
Julia and Colt forge an instant bond as soon as they meet, and it kind of grows into something more? We’ll leave that for the readers to decide! But we just have to know where you see them going after that ending you’ve written. Do they stay in touch?
I think Julia and Colt came into each other’s lives at the moment they did for a purpose—to help one another move from one point in their lives to the next. Both were carrying a lot of grief and uncertainty, and I think by the end there is a sense that, because of one another, they were able to make it through to a place where they felt ready to let go of some of that. The flip side, though, is that may mean their chapter together has reached its end, even if they can’t say it out loud. However, I’d like to think they have one of those very special bonds you may only experience a handful of times in life, and for that reason, maybe the door is always open.
What does Egg Island symbolize in the novel? Does it mean anything special to Julia or Colt, especially as its meaning changes throughout your book?
To me, Egg Island represents a life you could spend your whole life trying to get to; some sort of end point which may look and feel different to everyone, and where, you might convince yourself, you’ll finally find peace. That could take the form of a job, relationship, a milestone, or a solution to a lifelong existential crisis. For Julia, it’s a piece of her life that had gone missing and that she wants back. For Colt, it’s a sense of belonging and purpose. At the start, they both are searching, and the rest of the story is really about them coming to terms with the fact that they may never find what they’re looking for. Egg Island becomes the reason they learn to look inside of themselves instead, and accept what they find there, including their own abilities to create and transform their lives for the best.
We must know – have you ever been to the real Egg Island in Ontario?
There are actually so many places in the world called Egg Island—I have been to none of them. Though I have been in many questionable roadside washrooms like the ones Julia seems to end up in.
(Bonus question): What’s next for you in your writing career?
I’m working on a novel right now that all takes place in one spot, in Toronto, so it’s been quite a change after roaming all over the place in Egg Island. After that, I can only hope I’ll have more stories to write. Maybe the next one will be set someplace with palm trees and fresh seafood.
Already looking forward to that book - we love a good Toronto setting in books! Ger your copy of Egg Island below: