How long have you been a member of NOWW?
I’ve been a NOWW member for ten or more years. I’ve even served on the Executive as a member-at-large, vice-president, and secretary. I very much admire the energy and ideas of the current Executive!
What do you normally write?
I write fiction and creative nonfiction. I’ve published short stories and essays, and I’ve written some prose-poem-like things and tried a play. After stalling out halfway through three (four?) previous attempts, I’ve finally completed (and revised) a novel. I’m also gathering essays and other forms of creative nonfiction into a collection.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author?
Oh gosh. Different books speak to me at different times. In fiction, I’ve aspired to write like Marina Endicott’s Close to Hugh and Good to a Fault. And there’s much excellent nonfiction to choose from! I’m currently reading Indigenous Writes, by Chelsea Vowell—such a rich resource.
Let’s get to know you a bit better. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing:
For decades, I worked in the U.S. as a technical writer and editor—lots of science and software, with technology transfer and economic development thrown in.
As my mother developed dementia in the late 1990s I began to write our family’s experiences of that process. Though I didn’t know it, I was nudging my way into creative nonfiction, a genre that wasn’t as well-established under that name then. (Nonfiction remains a vast and varied field, and it’s all creative in its own way.) I’ve been revising much of that material since, using it as a springboard for new nonfiction. About ten years ago, I began seriously writing short stories, and recently I finally finished a novel that’s literary with commercial overtones, or vice versa.
I enjoy the similarities and differences in fiction and creative nonfiction—showing and describing, gauging what NOT to say so that reader can draw a conclusion, admitting and excising parts that are just self-indulgent showing off, and pushing all the elements of a piece to do more work.
Tell us a bit about what interests you now:
As I work on yet another editing pass through my novel and allow those “last two” essays in the collection to ripen, I wonder when I’ll ever be free to move on to something else. That said, I am dabbling with a new novel, and my “to be read” stack suggests that more nonfiction about rocks, trees, and birds lies ahead.
Will we see you at any upcoming NOWW events?
You’ll find me at Ask an Author at the Waverley Library soon (February 24th, 1-4 p.m.), available to discuss those burning writing questions! Also, folks who came to the January NOWW reading kindly listened to an excerpt from my novel—reading aloud to people is such a good way to come face-to-face with your work as well as your readers.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing?
You can find out more about me at my website, www.marionagnew.ca, where I post something every week. The “Fiction and Essays” page there has links to some of my published work. I have the usual social media accounts. My current favourite is Instagram, where I see beautiful things created by artists I follow.
And to end things off, tell us something surprising about yourself!
I am perhaps overly fond of peanut butter on toast.
Marion Agnew is one of six authors available to answer your questions about writing at Ask an Author on Saturday, Feb. 24th, 1-4p.m. at the Waverley Library. You can pre-book a 20-minute one-on-one conversation with one or more of these published writers by calling 684-6816. Walk-ins are also welcome. Go to nowwwriters.ca/ask-an-author for more details.