“I noticed a blip in the archives where photos which resemble modern photojournalism were missing” | Q&A with novelist/poet Mark Lavorato

Mark Lavorato (ML) has just published his third novel Serafim and Claire (Link to my review hereand has been garnishing great acclaim. He is currently living in Montreal where along with several writing projects on the go, he is an active musician and photographer.


1) Serafim and Claire is your third novel. How has its success been so far?

ML: The reviews have been very good, which as you can imagine is an enormous relief. It’s also selling at large stores across Canada like Chapters and Indigo, as well as at airports, which would have been quite difficult to accomplish for the smaller presses I was with before. I’m happy to say it’s selling well at independent bookstores nationwide as well.

2) Did Serafim and Claire take long to write? Was there some rea-life inspiration for you to write it?
ML: The writing took me about a year and a half, which is about average for me to get a book done. The inspiration came out of research I was doing for my second novel, Believing Cedric, where I noticed a blip in the archives where photos which resemble modern photojournalism were missing, while the technology to take and print them was up and functioning extremely well. There was a lapse in our collective imagination concerning how much a single image could convey. It seems crazy to think of it, considering what an image-based society we are today. Also, like every other writer, I know what it is like to struggle for the art you love, with very little to show for it (monetarily). I’m afraid the wallowing in poverty aspect of the novel was a little closer to home than I wish to admit.
3) You write both novels and poetry. Is there one form that you prefer to write over the other?
ML: I really love them both for very different reasons. Fiction requires you to completely remove your ego from the work, whereas poetry requires you to give of yourself as generously as possible. They’re using very different muscles, so to speak, so can be interchanged quite readily. When I’m tired from one, I simply switch over to the other.
4) Who are some other writers that you admire? What are you currently reading?

ML: I really admire people who write excellent historical fiction, like Rose Tremain, Annie Proulx, and Nancy Richler. What I’m reading at the moment are the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn, which are excellent, as well as A Perfect Pledge by Rabindranath Maharaj, which I’m also enjoying. I also always have a few poetry collections on the go. I’m just finishing up North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette, which won the GG last year, and just started Amanda Jernigan’s All the Daylight Hours.

5) Are you planning any new writing projects in the future?



ML: Always! I’ve begun preliminary work on my third collection of poetry, which has a very exciting theme that’s close to my heart, as well as conceptual work on my fifth novel, all while I finish up my fourth. I tend to get very excited about projects that are just on the horizon, and am usually chomping at the bit to get writing by the time they come along. I have projects sketched out years and years ahead of what I’m currently writing. I just hope I live long enough to get to them all! 

6) Have you done any public readings? If yes, what was that experience like for you?



ML: Yes, with every book I’ve done readings quite extensively. Readings for Serafim & Claire have just begun, and I hope to read quite widely at festivals this autumn. I really enjoy the public reading aspect of the writing life. It’s great to see one’s work living out there in the greater world where it belongs. 

7) You are both an active photographer and musician. Obviously the photography element helped you with your character of Serafim, but does partaking in those arts help you in your writing otherwise?



ML: Again, they’re kind of like different muscles used for different exercises in creation. They rarely overlap. Sometimes photography will inform my writing, as it did so clearly with Serafim & Claire, but most of the time it doesn’t. Music is something that’s quite separate as well.

8) Does social media help you in your writing at all?



ML: Not really. I see social media as a kind of necessary evil. If I loved it, or was fed by it in any way, I would try and find a job in the growing sector. Instead, what fulfills me is creating art. Tweeting and posting about it is quite an afterthought. Like every artist, I feel like I could probably do more with social media, but for now my focus remains on the creative process itself.

9) How do you like living in Montreal? Does its vibrant cultural scene help you with your artistic endeavours?



ML: Absolutely! I get a lot of ideas when out watching shows or even just walking in the city. It’s such a fantastic metropolis. It’s politics are a bit embarrassing at present, but my hope is that will come to pass.

Link to Mark Lavorato’s website

Link to House of Anansi’s page for “Serafim and Claire”

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