Interview with Lynne Kositsky, author of The Plagues of Kondar

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Interview with Lynne Kositsky, author of The Plagues of Kondar

Posted on August 13 by Lynne Kositsky
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Today Lynn Kositsky, author of the new release The Plagues of Kondar, sits down with us to talk about her new book, the best advice that she's ever received as a writer, and what she's reading right now!

How did you come up with the idea for this work?

The idea took a long time to mature. In the seventies I lived in Derbyshire, England. One weekend my husband Michael and I took a trip to Eyam, a small settlement called “the plague village.” I was fascinated, especially as many of the houses of the time were still standing. It transpired that a tailor in Eyam received a chest of old clothing from London, probably full of plague victims’ garments, as the plague raged in London during that period (1665). Within a very short time people began to come down with the horrific illness and many died.

Years later I sent for all the research available and began to work on a book about Eyam. I kept getting stuck, mainly because I was a beginning author and the details were so complex. The next time I looked at the unfinished manuscript it seemed stale, possibly because others were writing plays and fiction on the same topic. I put the barely begun work back in a drawer, and only came upon it years later, when we were moving. At that point I had what I thought was a brilliant idea—turn the story into a speculative work about another planet. This time the words arrived as if on a freight train, and that train soon took another route, diverging from the original research, so that in the end I found myself writing a new story, retaining only a few details and a skeletal structure garnered from my original research. To my delight, I found plenty of room for strange beasts and frightful monsters, just the sort of creatures that slept under my bed when I was a child. The story took on real and terrifying meaning when SARS visited our corner of Toronto.

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

I expected my readership to be Young Adult, as that’s the genre I feel most comfortable with, but to my surprise many adults have said they enjoy my novels.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Page 12. Just kidding! As usual. I found the beginning and the end most difficult to write. I rewrote the end at least five times.

What was your first publication?

My poetry was first published in my high school journal when I was around 12. I was very proud of it—although I later realized it was full of mixed metaphors. The downer was that many of my teachers accused me of copying it from another source—I guess they apparently didn’t recognize mixed metaphors either.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was teaching, but had so many stories in my brain bursting to come out that I eventually started to write full-time. My first novel was “Candles,” and it included some of my mother’s experiences during WW2, juggled around, my golden retrievers, and the murders next door.

What's the best advice you've ever received as a writer?

I got writer’s block after winning an award for my poetry while in university. I thought I could never write as well again. But Dennis Lee, the writer in residence at that time, told me to “get down and rattle the plumbing.” It took me at least a year to figure out what he meant, but I’ve never forgotten his words, and hope to always live up to them in my work.

Describe the most memorable response you've received from a reader.

High school reader: “She done the best with what she got.” Seriously, the best reviews I ever received were from Kirkus (starred review) and the Washington Post, for The Thought of High Windows.

What are you reading right now?

Solar, by Ian McEwan, after finishing The Diviners for at least the third time.

What is your new project?

I have several. One new project is With Fearful Bravery, a book about Jewish refugees in Shanghai during the war, and I’m just reaching the editing stage. I’m also collecting materials regarding what’s happening in Ukraine. I hope to write a novel about it at some point in the future, particularly as I was invited to give presentations of my books there three years ago, made friends, and am heartbroken at what’s happening now. I also hope to write a sequel to Kondar, and want to change the protagonist from Arien to her stepdaughter as time passes in the novel, but have put that aside for the time being.

 

Lynne Kositsky

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Lynne Kositsky

Lynne Kositsky is an award-winning poet and the author of several novels, including . Her fiction has won the White Raven award and has been nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson, White Pine, Golden Oak, and Hackmatack Awards. She won the Canadian Jewish Book Award for The Thought of High Windows. She lives in St. Catherines, Ontario.