Posted on October 15, 2008 by Tia Lalani

Marina Endicott’s book, Good to a Fault, was recently shorlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize.

By Christa Hanson

Marina Endicott is an English professor at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus who teaches creative writing. She has recently published a book called “Good to a Fault,” which has been shortlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. With book signings in Calgary, classes at Augustana and many other things on the go, this very busy woman was able to give me a couple minutes of her time to answer some questions.

Christa Hanson: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Marina Endicott: Yes, of course. Being Mary, published in Grain Magazine in 1985.

CH: I read in an article that you studied acting before you began writing. If you don’t mind my asking, what prompted the switch from your acting studies to a career in writing?
ME: It wasn’t exactly a switch — I was an actor for many years, and then a director, and then a dramaturge (an editor who works with both the playwright and the director on new plays), and all the time I was coming home at night and writing. When I had children it became more complicated to do the collaborative work of theatre, so I began concentrating on writing.

CH: Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
ME: A hundred places, but the initial scene which propels the book sprang from something I witnessed a long time ago: walking down the street in Saskatoon, I watched two cars collide in an intersection: one was a nice neat sedan, and a nice neat woman got out, quite apologetic; the other was an old beater. The doors burst open and ten or fifteen people jumped out, all shrieking. It was like the pavement had opened and a car had been spat up from the pit of Hell – both slapstick and disaster. That short piece evolved to become the first two chapters of Good to a Fault.

CH: You’ve lived in many different cities, growing up and as an adult. Because of this, I’m sure you’ve met many different people and had a chance to reflect upon human nature. Would you say that this may have had an effect on the subject matter of your novel?
ME: Yes. But more important for this book, I think, is my more recent experience of staying still for a while, living in the same place for long enough to understand community in a different way, to understand why people bring casseroles when you’re in trouble and how necessary small webs of relationships (maybe based on nothing but next-door proximity) are to our happiness, even our survival.

CH: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and your creative writing students?

ME: Read all the time. Write all the time. Talk to other writers. Be kind, work hard. That’s about it!

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