Torontonian and writer Krista Bridge is gearing up for a big year after being a featured writer at the 2013 International Festival of Authors (IFOA) at the Harbourfront Centre. Check out a bit of what she has to say about private schools, writing in Toronto, and what to do if you’re looking to get your work out into the world.
What was your part in 2013’s IFOA?
I felt very lucky to be invited to the IFOA this year. Although I’ve done the Harbourfront weekly reading series before, I’ve never been part of the IFOA, and I’m amazed to realize what a huge festival it is. It’s been fantastic to connect with readers who want to read my book or those who’ve read it already. This year I was part of two IFOA Ontario events: one in Woodstock, one in Midland. The audiences there were so warm and enthusiastic. They really know how to welcome writers. In Woodstock, I met someone who just got my book so completely I doubt I’ll ever forget her.
How do you feel the IFOA has changed and/or influenced your position as an author?
Just to be included in the company of so many writers I admire is energizing and inspiring. And IFOA has given me an opportunity to reach so many more readers.
What encourages or drives you to write stories like ‘The Eliot Girls’?
Writing is a compulsion for me. I do it more or less every day, including weekends, when I’m able, and when I don’t do it, I feel more irritable, more restless, just in general less like myself. With The Eliot Girls, I wanted to shed some small light on the petty and often limited lives we lead. I was interested in the private school setting because it’s one I know well, having spent my formative years at private schools—although the novel is in fact not autobiographical. I knew that a private school would make a rich setting for a novel because those schools are sort of worlds unto themselves. I was interested in the politics of private schools, the psychological warfare girls wage on each other. I wanted the explore the hypocrisy of this school’s values—it’s so busy creating myths of itself that it’s disconnected from what actually goes on inside it. Ultimately, it’s a story of our struggle to learn how to live.
Has Toronto been helpful to you as a writer?
I wouldn’t say Toronto has been helpful exactly, but it’s a part of me, sort of in the same way my family is a part of me. Toronto forms the landscape of my memory. It didn’t make its presence felt much in my early writing, but I’m growing more interested in creating a place on the page, so there are Toronto locations mentioned in my novel The Eliot Girls. And in my next book, though I’m still just beginning, I expect that more of the Toronto I know will come out on the page. I like the idea of writers making readers see places they know in a new way.
Do you have any advice for emerging writers?
One of the best things emerging writers can probably do is to submit their stories to lots of literary journals and to try not to take the rejections too personally. For me, it was great to have a small writers groups, just four of us, and we met each week and read our stories aloud to each other and gave each other feedback. It was essential to me, especially at that stage in my writing life, to have friends/readers whom I trusted. I met my group in a creative writing class at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. I also took the Humber School for Writers Correspondence Course, and that was essential for me. I was paired with Elisabeth Harvor, and her support of my writing changed my life.
What’s next for Krista Bridge?
I’m working on my next novel. It’s still in the early stages, so I can’t say much about it, but it’s set in Toronto.
Article by Andrea Wrobel.