Q & A with Susan Cameron

Tell me a little about A Fragment of May

It’s the story of Anne Dunlop, a young woman who flees her disappointments and failures in Toronto and returns “home” to the familiarity and safety of Halifax. But in her years away she has changed, as has the city she thought she knew. Under the most unlikely of circumstances she finds herself learning new lessons—about herself and the people who live and work on the ‘shadow side’ of the Citadel, that great hilltop fortress which has divided the city since its founding.


Where do you like to write?

I find I need to write in a quiet office space at home, in front of my computer.  I can make rough notes – on ideas to incorporate into a story—in other places (in a chair on the back deck, on a rock at the beach)—but I cannot get the flow of a story going without my trusty keyboard and my high backed office chair.


What is your birthstone?

Garnet, for January.  I still wear the birthstone that my mother bought for me many years ago.


What is your [astrological] sign?

Capricorn.  The sure footed, tenacious goat, eh!


What do you think was the most significant world event the year you were born?

Hum…other than the birth of Dolly Parton and myself, on the VERY SAME day! She’s my Star Sister—and look alike!?  From the ankles down, perhaps.  And that’s a joke!

The arrival of my war bride mother and myself Pier 21 in June, to finally join my Canadian father and start life in the greatest country in the world.

While, in Europe, the Nuremburg Trials of 12 or more Nazi war criminals were to take place in October of that year. An attempt to obtain some small form of justice for all the horrors and lives lost in the camps, the battlefields, and the bombed and destroyed cities.


What is your greatest extravagance?

I’m not by nature an extravagant person.  That said, I have a weakness for shoes and tend to ‘pick up’ a shoe bargain more often than is necessary.  And, books.


What is your favourite journey?

Leisurely car rides to a wonderful, white sandy beach—or three or four.

And train trips across the Canadian or European landscapes.


What talent would you most like to have?

To play the piano beautifully.  Classical and pop standards.  A tall order.


If you could come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

I’m not ‘sold’ on the reincarnation concept.  But, given the chance, perhaps I’d give Pegasus a try.  I love horses, and one with wings as well as a beautiful nose, a sleek body and four sound hoofs has a certain appeal.  If I didn’t feel like running, I could simply take off and fly. Whee………


If you were to host a private dinner party for writers from the past, who would you invite to your table:

Shakespeare (“Will, did you really write all those plays and sonnets all by yourself?  Be honest!”), Dickens, Kahil Gibran, Saint Paul, Lewis Carroll,Earle Birney – Canada’s great granddaddy of poetry and Lucy Maud – in hopes that a dinner party would cheer her up. So sad, to learn that in her personal life she struggled with melancholy.  Was Anne Shirley her alter ego? What a bunch, eh?  Do you suppose they’d get along?


If you were to host a private dinner party for your mentors in life other than writers, who would you invite to your table:

Sadie Getson, my Grade 5 teacher who ‘loved’ the little stories I used to write. Keith, David and Charles – who ‘believe’ in me and my writerly efforts. Helen Cook – who has helped me in so many ways.


What is your motto?

To borrow from an old country and western song – Live well, love much, die content, and leave a beautiful memory.


Why did the chicken cross the road?

I’ll ask my 6 year old grandson.  He’s very smart & he adores riddles.


List five cities or towns in Canada that are on your list to visit one day:

St. John’s, Newfoundland in summer, for a change! Winnipeg – again, not in winter. Dawson City – on Pierre Berton’s recommendation. Salmon Arm, BC—old friends have just built their retirement nest there & are urging us to visit them. Baie St. Paul, Quebec.