Katie Munnik, author of The Aerialists, reveals her approach to storytelling and some of her greatest inspirations, including the influence of her Canadian heritage on her poetic narrativity.
Gary Raymond: Canada has a real cultural importance to you, how has that affected your attitude to storytelling?
Katie Munnik: It creates storytellers, it’s a rich literary culture. That’s the soil that I grew up in, but I continue to be inspired by Canada. I think my shelf is mainly CanLit. Those are the voices that I returned to and when I meet local Welsh-Canadian writers, it’s really exciting to hear their journey and experiences. So the Canada Day event that I organised at St. Cannas pub was an opportunity to gather some of those voices together. Everybody incorporated somebody that they were inspired by as well. There’s something special about being in the presence of the spoken word when it’s the written word as well, I like to use the word translated there, because when you change from something that is written into making it oral, it creates community in a new way, it changes the intimacy of the written word.
Gary Raymond: Can you pinpoint specific aspects of your connection with Canadian culture that resonates through storytelling?
Katie Munnik: Within my family, like most Canadian families, there are immigrant stories. My mother was an immigrant to Canada. My father is a descendant of immigrants, but those stories were still very loud in his upbringing, and in his understanding of self. When they were raising us, our understanding of story was that we each have a story and that everybody around us has a story. And we should be curious about those stories. And that we not only nourish ourselves by learning who we are, but also who else is out there, and where they’ve come from. I think that that is a very Canadian thing because it is a nation of immigrants and such multiculturalism that is celebrated in a different way from what we experience here. There’s also the issue of winter.
it drives you inside and makes you interior people. Some people describe Canadian literature as depressing, but I think that’s because we have a lot of different kinds of survival stories going on. We share those because they bring us strength.
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