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LOW by Anna Quon

Anna Quon’s sophomore novel, Low (Invisible Publishing), has just hit the shelves; and tonight she will be launching the tome in Halifax. Recently, Quon chatted with Arts East via e-mail. Her responses—part poetic, part hilarious and authentic through and through—are sure to entice readers to start reading her latest book right away.

Your new novel, Low, follows Adriana Song as she “navigates lopsided friendships, failed romances…” It’s also been teed up with this very intriguing teaser: “Sometimes it takes a hurricane, a mental illness and a man who talks to dead people, to lose your inner child and find your grown up self.” Without giving too much away, what kind of experience do you think readers will have when they plunge into Low?
AQ: Plunge is a good word.  Well I hope it's not a plunge into something thick and sticky. I hope it's like a cool rain, kind of shivery on the back of the neck and a tad depressing, but comforting somehow, in the end when you go home and dry off. It might be heavy... I think my editor found it too heavy at times but hopefully I lightened it up some... 

Although this is a work of fiction, you had to tap into real events/emotions/experiences from your own life. Do you see yourself in Adriana and vice versa? 
AQ: Well, yes. But how much we are each other, I find hard to get my head around Sometimes I think both my novels are like a visual artist's self portraits. They are of me but not necessarily about me if that makes sense. Some painters paint themselves over and over, in different colours and sometimes with extra eyes or the body of a fish. I think I am probably going to keep telling my story over and over which might really get on some peoples' nerves but it is sort of the subject matter that interests me most. That sounds terrible but what goes on in my own head still kind of fascinates me.

Was it difficult to relive some hard times from your own life while writing Low?
AQ: No. in fact I think it helped me to put down some of the stuff that Adriana experiences, even though it's close to home, I think because I’m past it. The stuff that I'm not past yet belongs to other characters or is something I haven't written about yet....

Photo by Robyn Badger, Creative Badger Studio
What has been most rewarding about writing/creating Low?
AQ: Well I think actually, imagining a story that happens inside a certain hospital where I have spent some time—in fact where I have spent several chunks of time, and which made a big impression on me—is rewarding; maybe because I was able to use the experience of my difficult times there to make something that I kind of like—to reclaim that time and that place, in a way.

What has been most challenging?
AQ: What was challenging, and what I think I failed to do really, is to capture what it's like inside a mind that's ill. Well, inside a mind like mine, when it's ill, because people's illnesses are different... sort of like their hair is different. It's basically the same stuff, it has a lot of the same characteristics, but each person's hair is their own in some way.

Last time AE chatted with you, you said you might celebrate the completion of the novel with an organic roast chicken dinner or a new pair of boots! How did you end up celebrating?
AQ: Haha! Well I haven't finished yet... not till the book is in my hands will I celebrate. I think the organic chicken may still be on my menu, but I bought myself some waterproof walking boots already, in winter. I think I will likely celebrate with a warm tall drink of some kind. I am envisioning a kind of lemonade, but thicker and warmer. Maybe it's a warm smoothie. . Is there such a thing? And the glass is tall... two feet tall and with the shape of an Easter lily or a trombone. Isn’t that weird?

What’s next in store for you, in terms of creative projects? (Visual art, poetry, new novel, interpretive dance…?)
AQ: Haha! You'd really have to interpret any movement I make to call it dance. I'm working on an e-short for Fierce Ink Press about my teenage years and I hope to write more poetry! And blog. I really like blogging.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I just hope people like the book. I hope they find it a good read, and I hope the mental health community which is pretty dear to me won't be offended by it. I hope my parents will like it, it's dedicated to them. I hope it will grow on me too—it seems to take me a while to get used to my books and stop criticizing them...

Anna Quon will be launching LOW tonight (Friday, June 21, 7pm) at the Humani-T Café (1451 South Park Street).

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