How Easy is it Write a Canadian Story?
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I have a question for you all ... when you write, do you write with a Canadian scene in mind or American? I remember reading in an agent blog that its easier for Canadian writers to sell their manuscripts when they are American based novels. Do you agree? My current WIP is written with a Canadian scene in mind but never openly stated, yet another story that has been on the back burner is entrenched in Calgary, with Calgary businesses, scenes ect. I'd love to know your thoughts.
  • I had never really considered this to be an issue. (Until now!) My published novels all take place in Canada for the most part, as do the wips I am still working on. I guess it just seems more natural to write about what you know ...
  • My experience as someone born in Canada but who now has American citizenship (long story, not my first choice) is that, in general, American publishers don't find Canadian settings, characters, etc., sexy or exotic enough.  Though America is now my home, my four novels are populated by Canadian characters, settings, or scenes.  While a couple of agents have been very enthusiastic about my work, they haven't been able to penetrate the American shield.  Since they're well-written books (and that isn't just my opinion), I have to conclude that the Canadian aspect plays into the responses we've gotten.  But if you set a book in Calgary, I'm sure you would find Canadian publishers who would be interested.
  • In my case, I like to observe my immediate environment as I feel it adds a dimension to my writing that I wouldn't get from setting a scene in New York or Chicago, especially without having lived there. And my immediate environment is, inevitably, Canadian. I feel that my best work incorporates real-life Canadian settings, both rural and urban, with which I am very familiar. No doubt it's easier to sell a novel set in some American locale, but with all the competition out there for the very same thing, I have a feeling it might really pay to distinguish yourself from the just-like-Americans herd. This was certainly the case with Kathy Reichs, who wrote the novels on which the television series Bones is based, and set them in Montreal as well as an American locale. One of my favourite novels of all time is Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hay, set in Yellowknife and the surrounding area. The setting description is mind-blowing and she really knows how to weave the landscape right into the storyline and use it to highlight her characters' state of mind and development. In fact, the landscape itself is one of the main characters. You might even call it the protagonist :) I highly recommend reading this novel to see what setting can add to a story. Besides, I would *love* to read a novel with Calgary as a backdrop! We don't have enough Western Canadian writers on the Giller, Commonwealth, Man Booker or GG literary awards list, by far. So just out of my personal interest, I would enjoy reading your descriptions of Calgary.