Seen Reading interviews WordFest attendees Cheryl Gottselig and Carolynn Hoy

Hi, all! It’s Julie Wilson, author of Seen Reading, and throughout WordFest 2012, I’ll be checking in with festival attendees. I’ll ask the each one the same questions and together we’ll see just how varied the responses will be.

Next up, is a two for one.

Cheryl Gottselig and Carolynn Hoy attend WordFest every year together, so we gave them a chance to answer in tandem!

(Photo credit: Monique de St. Croix, official WordFest photographer. Find her on Facebook!)

Julie Wilson: Who are you looking forward to seeing at WordFest 2012?

Carolynn Hoy: I want to see Phil Hall, because I love Killdeer and I’ve never heard him read. He’s been to WordFest before, and I’m very anxious to see him.

JW: Do you prefer to see poets read in person?

CH: I do. I like to have a voice in my head. And I love this collection, and I want to hear how he’s going to read it. Is it the same way I’m reading it. Do the voices match?

Cheryl Gottselig: I want to see Vincent Lam, but I have heard him read before and I liked The Headmaster’s Wager. It’s different from Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, which won The Giller. And I want to hear Martin Amis. I’ve never seen him before. I’ve read Lionel Asbo: State of England, and I’m not totally enamoured with it, but now I want him to give a voice to it.

JW: It will be interesting to see if his reading makes an impact.

Next question. What is the book that you currently have on your person?

CG: I’ve got about five or six!


CG: I have Susan Swan‘s The Western Light, which I want her to sign. And I’ve also just bought Linda Spalding‘s The Purchase and two books of poetry.

CH: I’ve just bought Sandy Pool‘s new collection, Undark, an Oratorio, because it just came out; and, I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for it. I can’t wait to get home and open that book. I’m serious. I’m so excited!

JW: That makes me very happy to hear. Sandy’s an acquaintance of mine. I’ll be sure to pass that along. Have you met her in person?

CH: Just the once, briefly.

CG: Are we going to get to see her?

CH: Yes, she’s reading on Friday night. (Get your tickets to Poetry Off the Page.)

JW: OK. Hard question, especially because it sounds like you both read a lot . . . favourite book of all-time?

CH: All. Time.

JW: I know.

CG: This is a book I’ve read a number of times, and that’s The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. I read it when it first came out—and I loved it. I read it coming back from Asia on an airplane—and I loved it. And then I read it just before the movie adaptation—and I loved it. And then I read it afterward—

JW: —and you didn’t love it?

CG: No. No. No. But now the book has all that movie in your head, so you visualize it differently, because when I read, it’s in Technicolor, and, in this case, the movie took over. But I still loved it as as book, absolutely.

CH: I think I’ve read The English Patient five times, too. It’s all marked up and everything.

One book that I really loved, a lot, was Jane Urquhart‘s The Whirlpool. The letters and the details.

JW: Do you have a favourite book of the past year?

CG: (without hesitation) Louise Penny‘s The Beautiful Mystery! I just finished it, and so did Carolynn, and it’s just one of those books you just want to sit down with a cup of coffee and read the first half and then a glass of wine with the other half.


But you don’t want it to end, because it’s so beautifully-written.

CH: Ditto on that.

[more laughter]

CS Richardson was here with The Emperor of Paris. It is the most perfect book. You could never add a word or take a word away.

JW: Do you want to know something fascinating about him? He writes in a design program for just that purpose, to see how the language will play on the page to know when it’s OK to say enough.

Eavesdroppers: Awwww . . .

CH: Because you get the whole picture without a lot of flabbiness. There’s a great economy of language, but you’re not left wanting more. I think it’s brilliant.

JW: It is brilliant, because he’s writing a book about love, about romance, and yet it’s not flowery in the way that some writers would overextend the language. You’re right, it’s truly just enough.

Last question. You wake up on a desert island.


CG: Oh, no!

JW: You’re on a desert island. There’s a bag beside you, and in it there’s a book. What’s the book?

CG: So, it’s not what I’d want with me?

JW: Not necessarily, no. But, maybe, yes. It’s up to you.

CG: Because I’d probably have my iPad and I’d be reading Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak.

CH: If I got there by plane crash, I might have on me The Cinnamon Peeler, by Michael Ondaatje. I love that book of poems.

JW: Based on this conversation, I’m thinking you’re big fans. You sure you don’t want to change any of your answers?

Both: No!


To follow along with my reader sightings, and to contribute your own—no matter where you live—use the hashtag #seenreading.

If you’re joining us at WordFest 2012, be sure to also include the hashtag #wordfest2012.

And if you see me wandering about, please do say hello. I’d love to know what you’re reading!


Julie Wilson is The Book Madam (@bookmadam), a publishing professional who splits her time between Toronto and San Diego.

She’s an active reader ambassador, coach, and conduit, and creator/author of Seen ReadingFreehand Books & HarperCollins (ebook)—a collection of microfictions written in response to people who read in public. (WordFest’s festival bookseller, Pages on Kensington, also has copies on hand, along with some keen magnetic Seen Reading bookmarks. Stop on by!)

Follow Julie as The Literary Voyeur at @seenreading.

Visit her online homes at and

Julie appears at WordFest 2012 at the following events:

Name Your Sources
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
5-6:30 p.m.
Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio
with Deni Y. Bechard, Russell Wangersky and Rachel Wyatt

How Should a Writer Be?
Saturday, October 13, 2012
1:30-2:30 p.m.
The Banff Centre
with Joe Meno and Susan Swan


1 Comment

Filed under 2012 Festival Blog

One response to “Seen Reading interviews WordFest attendees Cheryl Gottselig and Carolynn Hoy

  1. That’s a great line: read the first half with a cup of coffee and the second half with a glass of wine. I’m now going through books I’ve read that fit that!

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