Michelle Barker's books on Goodreads
Old Growth, Clear-Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii Old Growth, Clear-Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii
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The Beggar King The Beggar King
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ratings: 21 (avg rating 4.00)

Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories
reviews: 4
ratings: 15 (avg rating 4.07)

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales
reviews: 4
ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.79)

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The Interview: Holley Rubinsky

Interview With Holley Rubinsky

Following on last week’s review of Holley Rubinsky‘s newest collection of short stories, South of Elfrida, I offer you Holley in her own words….

Tell us something most people don’t know about you:
I’ve had fibromyalgia for thirty years or more, now entangled with age-related osteoarthritis. I lost years in the wilderness of symptoms — muscle pain, exhaustion and other consequences of what is, essentially, a sleep disorder. Diagnosis was helpful, because I found resources that enabled me to deal with a chronic affliction. Rest and management of symptoms is key. I’ve had to be lazier, and have had the luxury to be lazier, than most people can get away with.
How did you become a writer?
Writing was the only way I could stay alive; I had (and still have) “issues” (as we say today) that vanish from my heart when handed over to a fictional character.
What is the most valuable piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
In Banff, Alistair MacLeod said: If Harry and Ray show up at the door, it’s important for the reader to know that Ray is a dog.
Being deliberately mysterious and “keeping the reader guessing” is what new writers sometimes do, mistaking unclear prose for narrative intrigue and tension.
Give us your Desert Island Reading List (the 3 books you’d choose to be stranded with):
A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night, by HH the Dalai Lama, an interpretation of Shantideva’s 8th century guide, The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
(The premise of A Flash of Lightning…is to be aware of and control the negative emotions, especially those hurtful to others. Being alone on a desert island would not provide much practice… but, dealing with one’s own ego, physical body, personality and ramifications of personal history might be quite enough.
The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard relates the tale of Scott’s expedition to the South Pole from a man who was there. Nearly 600 pages of an adventure that would make a tropical island seem like paradise.
The Bird Watcher’s Anthology, compiled by Roger Tory Peterson. A friend gave me the first edition, published in 1957. Eighty-five birders share first-hand observations of birds. Included is a piece by Apsley Cherry-Garrard.
The thing you like most about writing:
After the idea takes hold and I grasp the reason behind why I should put myself through such a lot of hard work, I love rewriting, editing, hacking extra phrases, honing in on the most precise way to say what I mean and make the writing seem simple.
The thing you like least:
Getting started. I go out of my way to avoid getting started.
Any unusual work habits/routines/superstitions?
I blame village life and verandahland for my lack of writing rigour and routine. When I’m “in”, however, when I am oddly, deeply involved, the Taurus in me takes hold, and I am tenacious to the end.
What’s next for you on the writing agenda:
My plan is every literary writer’s plan— to write a bestselling mystery.

About Holley

Holley Rubinsky, Canadian fiction writer living in British Columbia, Canada, is the author of South of Elfrida (Brindle & Glass, 2013), At First I Hope forRescue (Knopf C­anada, 1997; Picador, 1998), Rapid Transits and Other Stories (Pol­estar, 1991) and Beyond This Point, (McClelland & Stewart, 2006).

Winner of the first $10,000 Journey Prize, a National Magazine Award Gold Medal for fiction, and nominated for B.C.’s Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, Rubinsky hosted The Writers’ Show, produced by CJLY, Nelson. Her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, including The PenguinAnthology of Stories by Canadian Women.

She holds an M.Ed from U.C.L.A, earned her single-engine land private pilot’s license early on, works for Writing Retreats Kaslo, applies the Usui system of Reiki healing when needed and practices Buddhism as taught to the West by HH the Dalai Lama.

The late Yuri Rubinsky, software architect, was Holley’s husband. Robin Ballard, Rubinsky’s daughter, is an artist and writer living in Switzerland.