Eliza Robertson attended the creative writing programs at the University of Victoria and University of East Anglia, where she received the 2011 Man Booker Scholarship. Her first collection, Wallflowers, was shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize, the East Anglia Book Award and selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. We interviewed her about her writing and the impact of place on her voice.
Is place, the landscape and language of where you’re from, something that has a bearing on your writing?
Yes. It’s difficult to escape. This story rattled around my mind for weeks before I found a voice for it. Then I took a train from Halifax to Vancouver – over six thousand kilometres of ‘landscape’, including the Rocky Mountains. But it was the Cascade mountain range that took my breath away. The story started there.
Do you know why you do it?
It’s not a conscious decision. Our environment surrounds us – it seeps in. Place influences many of my stories, but not all of them. I suppose if something moves me to write, I don’t question it. For other writers it’s music. Art. A relationship.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a novel and a story collection. By ‘working on’, I mean I have finished tentative drafts, and now I have closed the projects from my taskbar so that I may indulge in a week of rest before I poke at them with a sharp nail file. (Again.)
If you were in a band what would it be called?
‘Mozart and the Wolf Gang.’ That might be taken by Anthony Burgess. Nonetheless!
Photograph © PRISM Magazine