About to Publishing his Second Adult Comic Novel | Q&A with author Allan Stratton

Allan Stratton (AS) is well-loved author currently living in Toronto, Canada. He is about to publish his second adult comic novel “The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish” (Link to Dundurn Press’ webpage for the book) Stratton was kind enough to answer a few questions before he left on a trip to Cuba for me.

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1) Am I right in reading that “The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish” is your second adult comic novel? Can you give a brief synopsis of it?

AS: Yes, it’s my second adult comic novel. Quick synopsis: It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.

William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood by way of Radio City Music Hall. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.

 2) Is there an appeal for you to produce comic novels?
AS: I only work on things I love doing. If it isn’t fun for me it won’t be for my readers. My first career was as a comic playwright. I’ve since moved into serious literary YA. So a return to comedy is like a homecoming for me.
3) Who are some of your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?
AS: James Reaney, Carl Hiaasen, Will Ferguson, Henry Fielding, Emily Bronte, Dostoyevsky and Charles Dickens. Right now I’m reading Alan Bradlkey’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
4) Most of your books have been geared to a younger set. Are you planning to continue to write for that audience?
AS: I don’t actually agree with the premise of the question. I’ve written books that feature teen leads, yes. But when Chanda’s Secrets was made into a film (Life, Above All) it was sold as adult. Kids read books with adult leads; adults read books with teen lead. Books are books. I write books I’d like to read. To me, YA is a marketing term that’s useful for publishers selling to schools and libraries. But it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do about “gearing” to a particular age. I like writing teen leads because the consequences of choices are so enormous, and the emotions hit harder. It’s an age when we really grapple with big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I belong? And first understand the importance and burdens of secrets — those things we fear that are oftyen core to who we are.
5) You seem to have a  special relationship with libraries (doing readings there, hosting summer workshops with teens, many photos of you with librarians were on Facebook at the OLA conference) Can you explain you feelings towards libraries a bit?
AS: Oh, libraries are wonderful. They mean works can be accessed years after they’ve been written — and across continents. And if you fall in love with a soul mate author you can easily find more of her/his other books.
6) How many languages have your works been translated into? Do you get much feedback from your international audience?

AS: Gosh. Sold in over twenty countries; Chanda’s Secrets is taught in various sub/Saharan countries like South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and also in the States, Britain, Australia, India and other places in English. But other languages? Hmmm. French, German, Slovenian, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Hebrew (next year), Chinese (simple and complex), Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. I get lots of emails from the USA, UK and Canada, and also some from South Africa, Botswana, France and Germany. Once got one from Namibia and occasional the Netherlands.

7) You seem active on the social media platforms like Facebook. Do you find such tools useful in helping with your writing?
AS: I do it more for fun. But it’s how we met, for instance, so yeah. sometimes there’s interviews, and for sure librarians and teachers and general readers can keep in contact.
8) You have a background in theatre and drama. Are you doing much in that field right now?
AS: No, although theatre informs my work. I always try to think inside my characters’ heads: “What do I want? What will I do/say to get it?” are questions I ask for each character in each scene/chapter. They’re standard actor questions.
9) There are a lot of people who seem to be writing fiction right now just for their own personal enjoyment. Do you have any advice for people who are doing that task right now?

AS: Have fun!

Link to Allan Stratton’s website

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