Now up on the tour: Elise Moser

Next up on the tour is my invitee, Elise Moser, whose post I am happy to host right here, right now.

I am honored to have been invited by Shelagh Plunkett to join this Canadian literary blog tour. She is the author of The Water Here Is Never Blue, a beautiful memoir of her unusual childhood in Guyana and West Timor, in which Shelagh achieves a very fine balance between the long-distance perspective, emotional maturity and augmented knowledge of the adult narrator, and the immediacy and vivid passion of childhood and the teenage years.

What am I working on?

I am writing a kids’ book about the woman who invented plastics recycling in the late 1970s. This is NOT what I wanted to write. I don’t normally write nonfiction, I have neither taste nor talent for research, and I never had any desire to write for kids. And let’s face it, plastics recycling doesn’t sound very sexy. But… I was at a community meeting in the Wisconsin town where I spend part of the year with my sweetheart, and someone mentioned that the woman who created the “chasing arrows triangle” (the international symbol for recycling) lived here. My first thought was, “Wait, someone created that?” Duh. My second thought was, “Wait, a woman created that? How come I don’t know about this?” Once I started Googling, it turned out that the story was more wonderful than I could have imagined. It was begging to be a book. I tried to get someone else to take it on, but no one would, and I couldn’t stop talking about it. So I finally gave in. I think kids (and grownups too) ought to know that a middle-aged housewife with a stubborn streak, a commitment to community and the environment, and a powerful work ethic changed our world.

I realize it may not be the best career move – not that I have the best career – having started with an adult novel, then published a YA novel, and moving on to a book for kids. But the story wouldn’t leave me alone. Some days I think wistfully of the pleasure of being immersed in a short story or a novel again, and I promise myself I will get back to that. Soon…

 How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

I’m not sure how to answer this, because my output has been such a patchwork. One thing that was pointed out to me with regard to my YA novel, Lily and Taylor, and is true of all my work to some degree, is that I write about poor and working-class characters. Most of us write about ourselves or from a point of view like our own, and it’s hard to write and get published if you don’t have certain tools and resources, which are more easily acquired if you have the head start of education, standard language skills, time, contacts – and also that intangible sense of belonging that allows you to imagine yourself into a social role (The Writer). So poor and working-class (a distinction which is increasingly more theoretical than real) lives are underrepresented in our literature. Not that I sit down to write with the primary intention of filling that gap. But I do want to make visible the things I see.

Why do I write what I do?

Most often it just comes to me, sometimes in just a word or phrase that wants to be set down, and then is followed by something else, and if I am lucky it gathers momentum and rolls itself into a whole story. I like words and I like images. And as I said above, I do want to make visible to other people my way of seeing the world. Not because mine is better than anyone’s, but because we all need to have the widest possible variety of perspectives and experiences to inform our way of being in the world.

 How does my writing-process work?

I don’t have one habit. I still feel like a kindergarten writer. Some days it’s fingerpainting, some days it’s glue, construction paper, a sprinkle of glitter. Once in a while I realize I have mastered the cursive capital Q and I feel like all I want to do is cursive letters, which I now feel very good at, so I do that for a while. My best inspiration usually comes from reading wonderful writing or seeing or thinking of a vivid image or phrase. It can be hard for me to begin, but once I do I can usually keep up the momentum. I tend to unconsciously think a story through before putting fingertips to keyboard, and then I turn out a moderately polished first draft, and after that it’s the daunting task of revising.

And watch for my two invitees: Michelle Butler Hallett and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, both of whom write some of the toughest-minded, most powerful and gorgeously strange fiction being published in this country. Both engage with history, society, psychology and the natural world just as if – imagine this – they are not separate, and cannot be separated. Having listed some of what they have broadly in common is not to say their work is the same. In fact each of them writes in a way that is absolutely distinctive. Michelle’s work is firmly rooted in Newfoundland, salty and crunchy, the wind blowing damp in your face. Kathryn’s is planted in Ontario and often Toronto, although with the woods and the small towns always there just beyond the city limits. Each writer making people and worlds at once recognizable and different to our eyes — and isn’t that what fiction is for? Michelle’s most recent book is deluded your sailors (check it out here:, and Kathryn’s is All the Broken Things (look here:


.   Previous writers’  posts on the blog tour   .



1 thought on “Now up on the tour: Elise Moser

  1. Pingback: tour de blogs | Matilda Magtree

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