Talking with Ann Ireland

Talking with Ann Ireland

Posted on April 2 by Kyle in Interview
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What was your first publication?

If you don’t count the box full of home-made books I made as a child (I still have them) then it’s a couple of poems published in a stapled together literary journal edited and published by poet Roy Lowther.  

There’s a story in that career milestone: I was living at the Vancouver Zen Centre as a second year student in the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing Department. The phone rang  and I raced to get it, knowing people were meditating downstairs.  The person at the other end of the line introduced himself as being Roy Lowther. He’d seen my poems in the Creative Writing department’s worksheet and might he publish a couple? 

You bet! I was excited beyond belief. My first professional publication.

Roy’s wife, Pat Lowther, a much better known poet, was to teach in our department a couple of years later. One day she didn’t come to work. She was murdered by her husband, Roy.


What was the creative process like for you?

Writing The Instructor wasn’t a walk in the park. I’d won the Seal First Novel award somewhat earlier for A Certain Mr. Takahashi. That novel was a big success and I felt the pressure. Suddenly, I was aware that I had an actual readership.  It took me many drafts to focus on what the new novel was about and what voice to use. I wrote many, many drafts using characters I've long since forgotten. Plot lines that got dropped.  I like to think no writing time is ever wasted; somehow earlier drafts add ballast. 


What is your ideal writing environment?

Nothing fancy, but I think it would be very good if I could get away from the Internet.   I’ve always been a big city person and I’d like to try something more rural for a change: I’m seeing hills in the distance, a medieval town, the smell of crusty bread and fresh roasted coffee, picturesque-looking people heading to market with carts full of food...


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

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”  Samuel Beckett.


Who did you read as a young adult? 

YA reading. In early to mid-teens I (and my pals at Jarvis Collegiate Institute) were on a Herman Hesse binge. Also Richard Brautigan. Simone de Beauvoir. Canadian poets like Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton.  And there was a creepy fad for the paranormal, those books about weird goings-on in the Soviet Union and crop circles and bending spoons... 

And because I wanted to be Japanese I worked with Living Language Learn Japanese records and books and devoured any book about Japanese culture I could get my hands on. Arigato!