“I was most pleasantly surprised by the humour that was found in it.” | Q&A with novelist Cassandra Cronenberg

It is amazing the things I find in the “New Releases” sections of bookstores and libraries. That is where I discovered Cassandra Cronenberg novella Down The Street. (Link to my review) In it, Cronenberg has brought forward a familiar tale of so many people we know and witness going through a mental and emotional crisis. A brilliant yet complex book, it attempts to enlighten us to grasp what is going on with so many family members and friends we have seen go through a meltdown yet are unable to help. Cronenberg answered a few questions for me via email recently

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1) How has the reaction been to “Down The Street” been since it was released? Have there been any memorable responses to it you care to share?

A: Very good, I think. I have been very happy with the response. Yes, I guess I was most pleasantly surprised by the humour that was found in it. And some one said the main character was sweet and vicious, I think she said.

2)  Your bio page on your website lists you as “painter, writer and filmmaker.” Is writing something you enjoy doing as compared as the two other endeavours you partake in? 

A: Yes, I do enjoy writing very much. Writing and painting.

3) The cover art of “Down The Street” is listed as something you did. Is it a piece you did specifically for the book? 

A: No, not in it’s original form. I did however, photograph the original piece in black and white for the book and then they cropped it and turned it upside down. I’m very happy with the cover. They did a great job.

4) How did you get involved with Quattro Books?

A writer friend of mine suggested that I send to them.

5) Who are your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?

Salinger, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Paul Auster, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Silvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (although I haven’t read very much of the last three), Margaret Atwood’s early work, some Timothy Findley, Robertson Davies, Henry Miller, Anais Nin. Also Stephen King

I just started re-reading Head Hunter and recently read Jesse Gilmour’s book, The Green Hotel, which is very good, also published by Quattro Fiction, and my father’s book Consumed.

6) Have you done any public readings for “Down The Street?” Has it been used for any reading circles or book clubs? If yes to any of those questions, how did you feel in participating in those events. If no, is it something you would like to partake in?

A: Yes, two public readings and one on the radio. No book clubs as of yet. Yes, I learned a lot about my writing giving readings.

7) Are you working on any new fiction right now? If yes, are there details you can share? If no, why not? 

A: No. That’s a difficult question to answer; it’s all interconnected right now. And at the beginning, so to speak.

8) You seem to have an active role on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. How do you like your experience with those programs?

A: Social media is an interesting tool. I have grown using these platforms; there are also many holes one can fall down. I think it can help when the work you do is mainly solitary. It also stores my information and reflects it back, and you can edit it! It is a bit of a trap as far as self-promotion goes, however.

9) You opened the book with the phrase “No characters or events are based on any reality” yet it seems that Itessa is such a familiar figure. Where did the notion of her come from?

A: Her name came from a Music Dictionary I picked up second hand, originally it was Istessa, it is an Italian word for tempo. And then I dropped the s. It’s funny because she doesn’t have an iphone or anything, so she really is Itessa before all of that, she is just discovering the on-line world really. That phrase is kind of a disclaimer and facetious at the same time.

10) The narrative of “Down The Street” in not a common one for most novels. Is the term ‘streams of consciousness’ the right term for the type for the book. Was it difficult to write in that style?

A: I think “streams of consciousness” is exactly right although my editor wasn’t so sure either, which still confuses me. It was very easy to write like that.

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Link to Cassandra Cronenberg’s website

Link to Quattro Books page for Down The Street

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