Out in stores now: Catch My Drift, the debut novel book by Genevieve Scott!
Don't miss out on the novel The Toronto Star compares to the works of Alice Munro, Barbara Gowdy, and Mona Awad, calling Catch My Drift "an affecting novel-in-stories whose cleverness and comic moments intersect evocatively with moments of loss and regret."
About Genevieve Scott:
Genevieve Scott is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA. Her short fiction has been published in literary journals in Canada and the United Kingdom, including the New Quarterly, the White Wall Review, and the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, among others. Her short films have been screened at eleven film festivals throughout the US, Canada, England, and Ireland. Scott grew up in Toronto and currently lives in Southern California, although she will be returning to Toronto in the spring of 2018. She is a creative writing mentor to at-risk teen girls in Los Angeles with the non-profit WriteGirl. Catch My Drift is her debut novel.
What was the impetus behind Catch My Drift?
As you said, you've written first person narratives, but from two people rather than one (as in most novels). How did you go about making sure they didn't sound (read) exactly the same?
Lorna is written in third person, and she’s a generation older, so that helped distinguish the voices. But mainly the two characters sound different because they are very different people with different interests and preoccupations, even if they live together in the same house and face many of the same life events at the same time. That said, I do think Lorna and Cara have more in common than they realize.
Your bio mentions that you are also a creative writing mentor to at-risk teen girls in Los Angeles. Did any of your experiences flavour the novel?
Probably the best thing that mentoring has done for my writing is make it more fun. Teen writers are just starting out; they may still be self-conscious, but they’re usually excited by what they’re doing, and they’re often willing to take more risks and try things on, less concerned about sounding a particular way. While I was writing this book, I spent an hour every week at Starbucks with a 16-17 year old girl, doing writing exercises and reading our work aloud. Writing together loosened me up; I got got out of a rut of self-editing and tapped into a more teenage energy. I got a lot of ideas down that I don't think I would have found alone at my desk. I think that energy also probably helped in writing Cara: those chapters have a faster, more freewheeling sort of quality.
Your past writing has mostly been short stories, and you also have a background in short films. How hard for you was the leap to a longer form of narrative?
I sort of cheated because Catch My Drift isn’t structured exactly like a traditional novel — many of the chapters can be read as individual stories. However, because the stories all kind of puzzle together, I had to keep track of details a lot more closely than I’m used to — like making sure that something that comes up in chapter two doesn’t get contradicted in chapter seven. And because some chapters were written before I decided to make a novel out of everything, it was a bit of editing work to build the right connective tissue between the parts. I wanted each chapter to feel like a unique episode and to be its own small, intense moment. But at the same time, I hoped readers would get some satisfaction out of fitting those separate moments together, revealing a different, maybe more powerful cumulative effect.
What do you hope people take away from the novel?
I hope people find a realistic picture of women as individuals, as well as an honest portrayal of women’s relationships, particularly the evolving connection between mother and daughter. When readers are done, it would make me happy if Cara and Lorna feel like people they know — people who have been in their lives, maybe people like themselves — whose decisions or ideas come back to them from time to time.
What's the one question you hope people ask you?
Well I hope they don't ask this question, it's such a tough one! For better or worse, I think a lot of people have an enduring interest in discussing the time and place they grew up in — and probably the decade before that too. So it's fun for me to talk about some of the details in the book that feel specifically to me like 80s and 90s Toronto, though it's probably only my contemporaries who will ask those questions, possibly to the boredom of everyone else.
Thank you very much, Genevieve!