Fernie author Angie Abdou made a stop at Cafe Books WestRossland on Saturday to talk about her new book, The Canterbury Trail.
The book chronicles life in a mountain town and so reflects a lot of Rossland in it.
Abdou explained that the Canterbury Trail is a trail near Fernie that is shared with all sorts of outdoor users, from hikers to snowmobilers.
Abdou said she wrote the book as a PhD dissertation. The editor of her previous novel, The Bone Cage, was a faculty member on the University of Calgary.
“They have a PhD program where you can write a fictional thing as your dissertation,” She sai. “So I thought if I’d like to work with her again and I’d like to write another novel and get a PHD, then why don’t I just do it all.”
And because she was doing her PhD, her employer, the College of the Rockies also gave her a six month professional development leave.
“So I got to write full-time for six months. and you can do a lot when your not working full-time,” Abdou said.
She then had a maternity leave where she also wrote a fair amount.
“It might have been a year and a half of writing to complete the book,” she said. “You know how it is, sometimes you’re getting tons done and sometimes you go for months and get nothing done.”
For instance, last summer she wrote 170 pages of her next novel and then threw it all out because her agent told me it was terrible.
But then based on what she had been told, Abdou wrote 70 “really solid” pages in September while working full-time.
“So I could say I wrote a third of a novel in a month, but that would be a lie because of that five months of writing crap, that is part of what I needed to do,” she said.
“So it’s really hard to say how long things take.”
She said she considers herself a pretty fast writer.
“I’m not one of those people that takes seven years to write a book, so far,” she said. “But I’ve done book that I don’t have to do a lot of external research that are based on things that I know well.”
Abdou’s next book is about hot yoga and foreign nannies. It centres around Phillipono nannies.
“It’s partly in Hong Kong, partly in the Philippines and partly in an unnamed town that is kind of like Kelowna,” she explained.
“I wanted a town that was big enough to have a university and more of a big city feel, but still in the mountains. I wanted it to be like you have everything and life is perfect, but just because you happen to be born into that time and place everything is perfect.”
She said compared to someone born at the same time in the Philippines, also a beautiful place, life is not so perfect.
The hot yoga was included for two reasons, one because Abdou is fond of the style of yoga and the other because of the absurdity of it.
“I think the idea of paying $20 to go sweat and work for an hour is so foreign to some of these countries where they have to work and sweat just to survive,” she said. “I like that juxtaposition.”
Abdou is planning to take a trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines to do research.
“I wasn’t going to, we have five Filipino nannies in Fernie so I’ve been interviewing them, but talking to writer friends they say over and over you have to go there.”