Leggat is the author of two
previous collections of short fiction, Pull Gently, Tear Here and Meet Me in the Parking Lot,
as well as a volume of poetry. A freelance writer and editor, she also
teaches creative writing classes and conducts writing workshops. She
currently lives in Toronto.
(Anvil Press, 2009)
by Daniela I.
Gently, Tear Here
(Insomniac Press, 2001)
Me in the Parking Lot
(Insomniac Press, 2004)
with Alexandra Leggat
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Alexandra Leggat: It's
hard to say because I didn't have the luxury of working on it full
time. I wrote it when I could, in between teaching and working other
jobs, so all in all the whole thing took over a year to finish. I
usually write the individual stories quite quickly then take time to
edit them. Also, I didn't know where to send this one or what to do
with it and that decision in itself took the most time - the writing of
the storeis themselves is the quickest and easiest part!
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
I always have a whole in mind. What the whole will be, I don't know.
But I'm conscious of each piece being a brick in the yet-to-be
determined structure, that it will be a book. But I don't link the
stories to fit a certain theme or anything. They accidentally connect
or relate to each other in the end.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
used pretty much all the stories I wrote for this collection. I did
write three new ones to add to it once Brian Kaufman from Anvil
accepted it. Brian wanted this book to be as long as my previous books
and I agreed with him. I did feel the manuscript was a bit slight, so I
wrote Blue Parrot, Colt 45 and The Market in
a couple of weeks to add to the collection. And they naturally fell
into place as the last three stories. I find order dictates itself. The
stories somehow fall into their natural place. In Animal
they did, at least. The funny thing is though, when I read this book,
and I couldn't read the first three books when they were first
published, but this one I do, I read it from back to front. I wondered
if the latter stories should be at the beginning, but I realize that
the order of these stories also illustrates where I'm going with my
writing. The last few stories are in keeping with the evolution of my
does the word "story"
mean to you?
things. Essentially story means an experience, a moment, an essence of
life be it an event, a feeling, a person, place or thing. That sounds
vague but the beauty of story is it illuminates a happening, no matter
what that happening is or thing is, no matter how slight - like a world
in word. Story is a neccesity, like breath, I guess, like light.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
AL: In the past,
I've strayed away from asking questions if I don't really
want to know the answer. However, I must admit this book is different
for me in many ways. I feel differently about it. I discovered this
when a friend of mine told me he finished it and I actually wanted to
ask him what his favourite story was. I would never have wondered that
before. Why, I don't know. But with this book, I care more for some
reason and want to know what story is someone's favourite. So that
would be my question - what was their favourite story. And then I'd
have to ask why?
My friend ended up telling me, without me having to ask though - his
favourite was Sweet Tea.
How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
AL: When I know,
it feels really good, exciting, but with this one, it's
also incredibly nerve-racking. Especially if I know the person. It is
an odd experience that I feel disconnected from and too close to. It
feels strange all in all, it really does! But good - a good strange! It
would feel a hell of a lot more nerve-racking if they weren't buying it!
What are you working on now?
AL: In my head,
there's a new thing brewing. I have the voice and the
thread, it's writing itself inside me. In my gut I think I'm going to
be writing about a life, opposed to moments in people's lives.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
AL: Last Evenings on Earth
by Roberto Bolano - haunting style, I can almost feel his breath when
reading it, like he's literally in front of me, reading me the stories!
Stick Out Your
Tongue by Ma
Jian - although they reside in that grey area of fiction and non, they
are stories to me - He's one of my ultimate favourite writers! I have
everything he's written, that I know of anyway. The Book of Masks
Korean writer Hwang Sun-won - incredible descriptions and tone and
clarity! A master of the short story. And I know you only asked for
three but I just reread:
England, My England by D.H. Lawrence - another master of the
Despite the comparisons, I don't read and never read Raymond Carver!