Masters series: Michael Christie + Featured Book: The Eulogy by Jackie Bailey

This episode our Featured Book is brought to you by Hardie Grant, and is The Eulogy by Jackie Bailey.

Our Masters Series interview is with Michael Christie.

Michael Christie is the Canadian author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice Pick. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar’s Garden won the Vancouver Book Award among other accolades. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail.

His most recent novel is the acclaimed and best selling, Greenwood, published in 2020.

A former carpenter and homeless shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Galiano Island, where he lives with his wife and two sons in a timber frame house that he built himself.

The conversation covers:

  • The moss-covered timber studio Christie and his wife Cedar Bowers use to write
  • Christie’s conversation with Sophie Cunningham a Melbourne Writers Festival
  • How Christie’s love of skateboarding and going pro was ‘an onramp to art’
  • Writing through an MFA at British Columbia: his first collection The Beggar’s Garden was part of Christie’s thesis before he went on to write his second book, If I Fall If I Die
  • How doing a writing course was a transformative experience, especially the benefits of time to write, being among people who talk about books, being taken seriously
  • The influence of Christie’s mother on his love of reading (Kate refers to Christie’s essay We’re all Agoraphobics now)
  • George Saunders newsletter, in particular ‘method schmethod’
  • Christie’s approach to his writing process: ‘Assess what you’re trying to do and do it better’
  • The ‘tree ring’ structure of Greenwood (pictured here in the chapter image of Aus and Canadian version of the book)
  • How David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was both a touchstone and a structure to differ from during the writing of Greenwood
  • How to balance ‘alarm’ in writing climate fiction
  • Writing near-future versus far-future (Kate mentions James Bradley, Jane Rawson, Kim Stanley Robinson)
  • Being a ‘happy collaborator’ on the tv adaptation of Greenwood
  • Links between skateboarding and carpentry and novel writing: One of the things that skateboarding taught me was to be okay with failure and falling down and picking yourself up.
  • On ‘enduring’ tours and dealing with publicity.
  • Calling ‘bullshit’ on the mystification of the author and the writing process.

Advice to other writers:

  • Knowing that it’s all kind of normal: all of this stuff is what you have to go through to get to the book on the other side.

Debut recommendation:

Find Michael Christie via his website or on instagram.

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