Couples who write
together, stay together
By Kelly Marcella
When it comes to Canadian
literature, Farley Mowat holds a very specific and influential place in
the canon and his wife Claire is marking out her own place in the
In his latest literary effort, High Latitudes, Canadian author
Farley Mowat chronicles his trips to the Canadian Arctic, creating a wonderfully
colourful memoir of the characters he met on his journey.
"All of the people in it are interesting to me, or I wouldn't have
written about them. Each one is different, and each one has a different
appeal," Farley says.
"If there is an intrinsic message [to the book] it would be: take
a good hard look at what we have done to the world we live in since 1966,"
he says, explaining that the chronicles in High Latitudes help
to show the remarkable changes humans have made to the world over the
Farley is quick to point out, however, that this novel is by no means
pushing any particular cause, nor does it have a specific message to it.
It is simply a return to his original and proper role as a storyteller.
The author of over 30 books, Farley's works often deal with environmental
issues or have strong connections to the natural world.
"I'm more interested in people and how they interact with the natural
world," he says. "My interest lies with people in the natural
In the introduction to High Latitudes, renowned Canadian author
Margaret Atwood discusses the importance Farley has had on Canadian literature.
Nonetheless, Farley says his reputation is not something he ever considers
when writing, nor does he see it fit to accept such high accolades.
"In point and fact, I'm outside the Canadian literary tradition.
I've never been a favourite of the literati. I've always been involved
in writing what I call creative non-fiction, and there is no role for
that in our categorizing system," Farley explains, noting he does
not fit into the basic fiction and non-fiction categories of literature.
However, this is not something that concerns Farley. "I'm not highly
regarded by most academics and that does not cut me to the quick. As long
as I have a readership, an audience, that is what I'm concerned about.
I'm a storyteller and I tell stories as best I know how, to as wide an
audience as I can reach," he adds.
Farley's wife Claire is also a successful writer, penning books for both
youth and adults. Her young adult fiction trilogy The Girl From Away,
about a young girl's life in Canada, has been highly successful.
Claire says she enjoys writing for different audiences. "The two
are very different types of writing. The two books of non-fiction that
I wrote were for adults, and the three novels were for young adults
they were all a lot of fun," she says, explaining that she enjoys
being able to write a wide variety of styles.
"Writing the way we do it writing about what we want, when
and in whatever method we choose is far more fun," Farley
Neither Claire nor Farley say that they attempt to write from a specifically
Canadian perspective, but, rather, write what they know and have experienced.
"We don't know any other way to do it. If somebody told me to write
an Italian story, I couldn't do it," Claire says.
"We support each other in many different ways. I get a lot of assistance
from Claire, and she gets some from me. It's a mutual enterprise,"
They both agree that knowing someone will read and hopefully appreciate
their works is the most rewarding aspect of authorship.
According to Farley, however, the key to being successful at anything,
including writing, is in the action. "It's a matter of doing
that's the most important thing," he concludes.