Seeking Sanity from Angie Abdou 

A member of the Vicious Circle seeks some advice from a guest author

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Piech: In  The Cantebury Trail , you write about a fictionalized version of Fernie. Was it difficult to create believable characters living in a town where you also live?

Abdou: The Canterbury Trail (especially its approach to characterization) stems more from Chaucer's  Canterbury Tales than it does from the town of Fernie. Chaucer takes the main types from Medieval society and has a representation of each - the praying class, the fighting class, the working class, a woman, a teacher, upper class, lower class. The pilgrimage gives him an excuse to put together all of these people who would never normally associate. He starts with types and fairly clichéd representation, but the pilgrims (ideally at least) grow out of these types and become individuals.

This approach lends itself very well to Fernie where there are clearly defined (and often referenced) types: the ski bum, the red neck, the hippy, the developer. I wanted more than one in each group to help me let them become individuals rather than types. For a pilgrimage, I used the mountain equivalent - a big powder day in the backcountry. I didn't find characterization in this book difficult at all - I had great fun with it. Now that I put it like that, FUN is probably a key ingredient in writing most novels.

Piech: Did writing  The Cantebury Trail leave you with any epiphanies about writing that you didn't have beforehand?

Abdou: People who like  The Canterbury Trail praise its fairness to all of the different groups and claim that it presents events evenly from each perspective (rather than favouring the nature lovers or the coal miners or the developers). I did work hard to get inside of each of these perspectives, which put me places I'd never been before... And that always involves epiphany.

Piech: What characteristic would you say contribute most to your success as a writer?

Abdou: Work ethic - I'm a hard worker, whether I'm running, swimming, teaching, writing, or whatever - I just like to work. That's lucky for me because hard work is essential to being a writer.

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