Tonight I attended the Hamilton Author Series 2014 and enjoyed the reading of Girl Runner (Carrie Snyder). The reading took place in the lower level of the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas and proceeds were donated to the Short Works Prize. It was an intimate group of about 40 people and the reading was followed by a question and answer period.
Carrie Snyder presented like a friend, like someone that you would be comfortable sitting down for a coffee with. Her personality showed through her purple sweater and fun purple running shoes. The audience was spellbound as she read a selection from her third novel which was short listed for the Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize. She described the book as the story of a 104 year old woman who was taken out of her nursing home on adventure. During her time away, she shared the story of her Olympic running experience. She read a passage of the book when the main character was 10 years old. He melodic voice lulled the audience into the story and one participant commented that he was almost feeling nauseated following the author’s description of the little girl on the barn roof.
Snyder was asked whether it was the time period or the character that she decided on first. She shared that she began with the very old voice of Aganetha and had to “figure out who young Aganetha was”. She described her research of long distance running and how she was drawn to the metaphor of endurance. Her research revealed that in 1928 only a select few women were able to participate in the Olympics and that long distance – for the women – was only 800 metres. Following this Olympic Games, the Olympic committee decided that women could not compete in the long distance of 800 metres due to their frailty and reduced the distance to 200 metres to protect the from their frailty and to ensure that their reproductive organs were not damaged. It is hard to believe that the women’s races remained at 200 metres until the 1960s!
Snyder described her writing in a way that she “feels like I am an actor, inside another body, acting out a role“. She enters her character and is “not thinking about writing it, is thinking about being there.” She noted that in a previous book, she wrote from the perspective of a 10 year old and felt that she was that 10 year old.
In relation to the writing process, she attacks each project differently. As the mother of young children she has been curtailed by their routines, writing until the children get home or using her laptop on the side of the soccer field. She does put in her ear plugs as a sign that it is time to work, heads into her office and gets into a different headspace for writing. She stated that she wrote Girl Runner like she was “running a race an could not stop until I got to the end.”
I loved that this author shared that one of the “great fortunes of being a writer is that you get to read.” She enjoys reading other authors as “there are so many amazing voices out there” and has made a career out of something she loves. She talked to being a reader first and was very inspiring to others who have goals of writing.
“I love where words can take you.”