Name: Joanna Wiebe
Who is Joanna? Canadian author new to the YA mystery scene, with a love for espresso, chocolate, cheese and wine.
Books: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy #1)
Hooray! For first interview of 2014! Readers meet author Joanna Wiebe. If you haven’t heard of her its okay but then again it isn’t. Her debut novel The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is to be released on January 14th and it is creating so much buzz most (mainly me) readers cannot contain themselves.
Motif was lucky enough to catch Wiebe for a Quick Five© and as her about how excited she is about her first novel and if going to college is worth the paper it is written on. Enjoy!
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is your debut novel. . . . How are you feeling about its release? How long have you been waiting for this moment?
I’m feeling a healthy dose of excitement and anxiety, which are hard to tell apart sometimes. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any writer who’s like, “Yup, perfect, I wouldn’t change a word” when handing their manuscript over to the publisher; there’s a reason the American version of Moby Dick differed quite a bit from the English version, which was published first. But I’m really happy with where this novel ended up, and it’s been very cool (read: a roller coaster) to read early reactions to it.
As for how long I’ve waited, well, I guess I’ve waited my whole life. Or at least since I was eight years old, writing a little story on my nana’s typewriter, and eagerly consuming her encouragement. That my book will be on bookstore shelves as of Jan 14 is, to indulge myself in a cliché, a dream come true.
What inspired you to write this novel? Was it an event, a story or the lack of story?
I wish it was one thing, but it was everything. You read those interviews with writers who say their characters visited them in a dream, and you think, man, that would be convenient! My characters are like standoff-ish cats, turning their backs to me until they’re good and ready to let me near them. That said, it wasn’t all waiting for my characters to show themselves and tell me their story. I went into this knowing a) I wanted to tell a boarding school story because I love them so much and b) I wanted to experiment with telling the story in such a way that readers would be kept guessing. So far, it seems like the book is successful at both A and B.
Why did you choose to create this story as a series?
Anne’s discovery of the truth of Cania Christy, which is essentially the core of the first book, is just the beginning. We still need to find out what she, of all people, is doing at such a school – because, in fact, it’s not entirely what Anne and Ben think it is. And once Anne discovers why she’s there and what that means, she’s going to have to make a very difficult choice. This was a story that just couldn’t be told in one book – as much as I tried!
Do you feel that your degree in English helped you to become a better writer? If so, why?
I think a degree in English exposes you to an impressive range of books and styles that you just wouldn’t come across on your own. I would never have read Donald Barthelme’s Snow White or William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying had I not been an English major. Although this book is not written in a postmodern or modern voice or style, I as a writer am influenced by those styles – and it’s helped enrich my voice, I think. I hope. One day, if I can get past the worry that I’m a pretentious fop, I’ll write a postmodern YA novel that would make Barthelme proud.
While an English major, I took creative writing classes, and those definitely helped transform me into a better writer. They also taught me discipline, thickened my skin, and boosted my ego just enough, I think. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to write a book.
Finally, if you had to describe your writing style in one word, what would it be and why?
Spongy. I tend to write big, long sentences that are all dense with everything going on – feelings, happenings, even tangents – and then, when I edit, I have to squeeze those big, soaking sentences and shake out shorter, piecier phrases that won’t weigh on the reader quite so much.
Follow this very funny and interactive author on these various social media sites eh? (hahahaha)