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Jesse Ruddock - Eden Mills Writer Interview

The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival is an annual literary festival that celebrates the best in Canadian literature. The main event takes place on September 10 with over 40 authors reading from their latest books at outdoor venues in the village of Eden Mills. This year’s festival includes programming for all ages, with authors representing a wide range of genres, including literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction, humour, thrillers, and spoken word! We are thrilled to feature the talent of Francophone, Indigenous and local authors as we celebrate our 29th year of community and literature.

One of the up-and-coming authors featured at this year’s festival is Jesse Ruddock. Jesse was born and raised in Guelph, grew up playing hockey, and went to Harvard on a hockey scholarship. After racking up concussions, Jesse had to quit the ice, and took to studying poetry, completing a Master’s at U of T. Her writing and photographs have appeared in the NewYorker.com, BOMB Magazine, Music & Literature, and Vice. Anna Bowen spoke with Jesse for our Eden Mills Writer’s Festival podcast about her debut novel, Shot-Blue, a book of first love and first loss. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

“In an interview […] you said to CKUT that you never find the process of writing songs hard, just strange and unexpected and that you don’t perceive yourself to be at work. How does writing a novel feel different -- or does it feel different than that?”
“I think it’s even more exciting writing the novel because when I was writing songs I might spend a day or two working on one and then later on making changes but the novel was, you’re looking out over a very far distance which means every day you don’t know what’s going to happen but there’s also this sense of momentum. I love it, as I said people tend to say writing is very hard or frustrating, but for me I use the images and the rhythms and I follow them and I love that, it’s a very pure joy.”

“Can you describe your own sort of routine? I’ve heard you say that you write as if it’s a meditation.”
“[…] What I think of as a meditation is that it’s very concentrated without distraction, in that I have no plan that I’m operating on at the time, it’s more of a seeking to be quiet and open and then to follow the language and go from there, so it’s a process of discovery. I don’t map out all my writing and then fill it in, so it’s really a process of opening up and seeing what I can find. My favourite thing about this book, Shot-Blue, are all of its images, and they all come to me when I’m in that meditative state of being very quiet and open to whatever might happen.”

"[How] was the editing process for this novel?”
… I did it with Alana Wilcox, the publisher and editor at Coach House, and she’s so wonderful and tough. I think she always respected [the book’s] soul and it as an object. Alana provided me with wonderful feedback, and it was pretty rigorous, but I never felt like I had to take myself out of it. We talked about [how]it’s a youthful book, very passionate, and it sort of falls on its knees sometimes, this book -- and I wanted it to be able to do that and I wanted it to carry its faults. In New York I learned to polish something, and it was really important to me that we not do that to this book because I wanted it to have that kind of mystery, and that was our challenge, and she let me do that. I love her for that.”

[…]

“I’m interested in being free and following in the meditation for my next book. My main job is to not think about anything and then to see what happens from there. The structures that you build are really complicated. This book was written as a meditation, but even I know after editing and everything in a formless way I could break down all these beautiful crystal structures that happened through a meditation.”

“Where did that idea come from, of doing it as a meditation?”
“I had this infatuation with the mystics in medieval literature, and I realized that a lot of scientific discovery and philosophical discovery all came through meditative practices, rigorous meditative practices, and what connected to me… I always wanted to write beautiful images, and when I had written them I was in some sort of calm blank state. So I thought, okay, these mystics had all these breakthroughs through meditation, and that’s what I want to do when I write.”

Jesse Ruddock will be joining over 40 other award-winning, established and emerging authors including Lisa Moore, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Heather O’Neill, Barbara Gowdy, Steven Heighton, Emma Donoghue, Terry Fallis, and many more on September 10th from noon to 6pm in the village of Eden Mills, just outside of Guelph. Relax in the grass by the Eramosa River, discover new voices, meet your favourite authors at the book-signing table, browse the book fair and enjoy a snack at our food court!


The festival is also thrilled to feature two events in Guelph on September 9:
- An afternoon of conversation with Naomi Klein, one of Canada’s most influential thinkers, 1 pm at War Memorial Hall. Naomi will be discussing her latest book No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need at War Memorial Hall.
- Two writing workshops with one of Canada’s most important contemporary writers, Lisa Moore (SOLD OUT)
Tickets for Naomi Klein and Festival Sunday can be purchased at The Bookshelf or online at emwftix.ca. We hope to see you there!

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