Author Interview with Ann Ireland

Author Interview with Ann Ireland

Posted on February 20 by admin
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Today’s author interview is with Ann Ireland, author of The Blue Guitar, a new release from Dundurn. Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi (winner of the Seal First Novel Award), and Exile (shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize). The first edition of her novel The Instructor was a finalist for the Ontario Trillium Award.

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Ann: The Blue Guitar takes place, in large part, at an International Classical Guitar Competition. Music competitions are common ways for young (and  not so young) musicians to jump-start a career. Some might say that it is the only way. So much is at stake- the winner of this competition receives money, a full itinerary of recitals across North America, a record contract, and instant entrance into the highest echelon of classical guitarists. The losers return home to continue what may be a plodding life of teaching restless children and playing weddings and bar mitzvahs. I enter the lives of these musicians (and judges) to find out what motivates them, and how far they will go to achieve their goal.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Ann: I studied classical guitar as a young teenager, then decades later, I decided, on an impulse, to start in again. I began to take lessons and practice a couple of hours a day. Yet I was shy and nervous about playing in front of anyone except my teacher. The thing about classical guitar technique is that it so very detail-laden; the tiniest change in wrist or finger position will cause mishap. Any hint of ‘nerves’–  and your playing disintegrates. How on earth did young musicians keep it together to play competitively?

Caitlyn: Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

Ann: I began to think of potential readership in the final drafts. As well as my usual readers, I had in mind the worldwide classical guitar community of players at all levels. Wouldn’t they love to have a book written about them? About their obsessive practice? About how grueling it is to enter international music competitions? And then I realized it is all musicians who’d get a kick out of reading this, not just guitarists.

Caitlyn: How did you research your book?

Ann: I researched by interviewing, at length, prominent classical guitarists in Canada and abroad. I attended the most important North American classical guitar competition and spoke to competitors and judges.

Caitlyn: Describe your ideal writing environment.

Ann: Ideal writing environment? Easy. No internet access.  A cabin near a cliff with the sea crashing beneath. No phones. A sweet town nearby. A vegetable garden where I would pluck lunch. Yet I have never written in such a place. Writing always happens in the middle of Life, and the sea crashing beneath may well be the drains clogged, yet again.