BOOK REPORT – Aliens should read Calvin and Hobbes

Every Saturday there’s a book report on an author of interest in the arts section of the Globe and Mail.  It’s my favourite part of the paper that even my husband, who likes to do the crosswords, allows me to read first.  I have often wondered what responses I would give if I was the one being interviewed.  So this week, just for fun, I thought I’d put myself in the hot seat and respond to the questions myself.


First time author Gillian Andrews has been studying the writing craft online, and in the classroom for many years.  This, combined with her interest in women’s issues and spirituality, has evolved into her first novel River of the Stick Wavers.  Set in 1963, Andrews’ novel is a bildungsroman — a coming of age story of a mid-life woman – an approach that is usually reserved for the young, and therefore a new approach in the genre of women’s fiction.  Her novel, published by FriesenPress is currently available on Amazon and the FriesenPress website.

Why did you write your new book?

The idea for my novel came from an obituary in the Globe and Mail.  It was about a woman who travelled alone to an island in Haliburton well into her nineties.  The image of this woman became imprinted on my brain.  I wanted to be her.  I wanted to know who she was, and why she was alone on an island.  The image of this woman came at a time in my life when I was trying to imagine what my life was going to be like as I got older.  It gave me hope that I could still be active well into my senior years.

What scares you as a writer?

Marketing is all new to me and I don’t really know what I’m doing.  My publisher has been most helpful, but there is still so much work to do to get myself and my book noticed.  I fear that all this work will take away from writing my next book.  It is a constant source of worry to me.  I wish that someone who knew me well enough to take over the marketing and selling of my book so I can focus on my next novel which, right now, is an idea in my head and a binder full of research papers waiting to be read.

If aliens landed on Earth, which book would you give them to teach them about humanity?

I know this sounds rather odd, but I’d give them a Calvin and Hobbes book to read.  I think that there’s a lot questions about the vagaries of life in this book as well as humour.  Above all things I’d want aliens to know that we can laugh at ourselves and hope that they will laugh right along with us.  That would certainly beat the alternative.

What’s the best romance in literature?

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite novels.  I’ve read many variations of this book as well as sequels that continue the story of Elizabeth and Darcy after they marry. I never want to leave them behind.  Pride and Prejudice is one of the few books that I’ve read over and over.  Elizabeth is such and strong female character.  It always surprises me that even in the 1700s there were women who could speak up for themselves.  It’s the kind of woman I like to write about myself.  Which is probably why it attracts me the way it does.

What’s more important, the beginning of a book or the end?

I think that the end of River of the Stick Wavers leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination as to how things progress from there.  Even at the end of life, things don’t always get wrapped up like a tidy little bow.  I like that.  But the reader will never get to the end of a book if you don’t at first, write a killer beginning.  So I’d have to say that the beginning of a novel is extremely important.


So there you have it, my first, and probably my only, interview with the Globe and Mail format.  I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed the process of discovery some of the questions brought to mind.  It would have been so easy to mention a highly literary work to share with aliens like the poetry of William Wordsworth for their message about nature, rather than the comic, Calvin and Hobbes for example.  Calvin is an original and imaginative thinker who enjoys life to the hilt.  We should all strive to be that way.


Categories: Book Talk

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