A Biblioasis Interview with Author Andrée A. Michaud – Longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize

An Interview with Andrée A. Michaud

Andrée A. Michaud, author of Boundary, spoke with Natalie Hamilton about the influences of place and the senses on her fiction, using memory as inspiration, and how boundaries can obscure or accentuate differences.

1. You are a prolific writer, well-known in Quebec for your award-winning novels. As an introduction to English language editors and reviewers who may not yet know your work, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your writing?

First of all, I have to say I was born in the country and that the liberty of my childhood in the fields and in the woods surrounding my village has profoundly influenced my work. I always say that I write first with my senses, with the smells, the colours, the winds, the rains that are crossing the setting of my novels, and I rationalize after. My novels, in fact, are a melding of my very Cartesian mind and a sensibility in me that makes me as sensitive to the tiniest ray of light as to the fury of the storm.
Consequently, I don’t work with a plan. Never. I want to be free, to have no bonds, so I can let the rain or the tempest enter by the window and penetrate the story.

I also worked for about ten years, full time and part time, for a research group specializing in early cinema. Among other tasks, I had to describe short films, shot by shot, and I think this exercise had an influence on my work, on the way I describe places, on my cinematographic vision of the plot.

2. When it was first published in French, Bondrée won both the Governor General’s Award for Literature and the Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Writing, crossing over the literary-fiction/genre-fiction divide, which had been quite wide in prize culture especially. How did it feel to win both prizes?

It simply proves to me that literature is not a question of genre, that a good book is a good book, and can gather many kinds of readers. Having said this, I admit that it was a great pleasure for me to win on both fronts. I won my bet: you can write literary fiction, whatever subject you choose to write on.
(I’m also happy to tell you that Bondrée won the Prix des lecteurs Quais du polar in France at the end of March.)

3. Can you tell us a little about the origin of the novel?

I have to say, first, that Bondrée is a real place where I was going with my father when I was a little girl. I never went back to that place after his death, when I was ten years old — so it was in the sixties. At that time, there was only two or three shacks near the lake and the surroundings were very wild, similar to (I presume) the woods Pete Landry — the man at the origin of the tragedies — discovered when he took refuge at Bondrée.

I imagined entirely what Boundary should look like after the death of Pete Landry and I reconfigured the place for the purpose of the novel. I added a few cabins and a camp site around the lake, and I enlarged the lake to have enough room to put all the families that spend their summer in Boundary.

For the rest, I simply worked from my memories, from the memory I had of the lake, of the mountain, of the woods, of the gravel roads, of the colors, of the smells. In fact, the first memory that came back to me before I start the writing of Bondrée was a smell, a smell of fresh rain. After the smell, a lot of images resurfaced, and then, I was ready to write.

I first set the scene and then I imagined a man alone in this wilderness, what it would be like to live there, surrounded by trees, animals, and trees again, and have no one to speak to. I then brought a few people near the lake, and the story really began when the lonely man, Pete Landry, fell in love with the red dresses and the long dark hair of Maggie Harrison, when he went mad and killed himself in his cabin.

The tragedies that occur twenty years later, after a few families have constructed cottages near the lake, are directly related to Landry and to Landry’s only friend, who never forgot why Landry hung himself in his cabin.

4. There are many boundaries/borders that are delineated and crossed in the novel—Canadian/American, French/English, etc. Can you discuss what it is about these kinds of borderlands that makes them such compelling themes for fiction?

I chose to set Boundary on the Canadian/U.S. border because the Boundary I knew when I was a little girl was precisely on the border. After that, I realized that the question of boundaries and borders was very rich and that Boundary was the ideal place to look into this question.

I also have to say that Boundary is the third novel of a trilogy (started with Mirror Lake and Lazy Bird) in which I touch on the differences and the similarities between French Canadian and American people through their languages, their sense of space, their culture, and also through the climate and the geography of the province of Quebec and these of states nearby the border.

In Boundary, I’m going further, because the story is set exactly on the border, where the differences disappear or, on the contrary, are accentuated by the proximity of the other.

5. While it’s a riveting crime drama, the novel is as much about the effects of these tragic events on individuals and the community as a whole. Can you tell us how you balance the momentum of a crime-based plot with the nuanced emotional portrayal of those affected by the crime?

I don’t know. I didn’t want the novel to be based only on the murders that occurred in Boundary Pond. I wanted to write a novel, precisely, about what affects you when violence is not only on your TV screen, but right beside you, when people you know are suddenly the victims of violent crimes. You can’t be unconcerned when your young neighbor is the victim, when the next victim should be your daughter, and when you don’t know where the rage comes from.

6. While the narrative is told through many very different characters’ points of view, there are two main characters who interpret a lot of the action, Andrée and Inspector Michaud. What did having these two key perspectives allow you to do that the traditional cop-focussed procedural would not have allowed?

The character of Andrée allowed me to take the point of view of a child who doesn’t know the world can collapse in one night, of a happy child who is suddenly confronted with death, with the sense of the words never again, disappearance, forever. Andrée also allowed me to bring some light into a very dark story, to talk about the paradise Boundary Pond was before the tragic summer of ’67.

Michaud, on the other hand, is that king of a man who tries, day after day, to understand an incomprehensible violence. He is an exhausted man, who dreams of lightness, but who is not able to ignore the darkness of the human soul, of the human spirit and who wants justice for all the young victims that haunt him.

7. Is there a question (or anecdote) about this book or the writing of it that you’ve never been asked about and wish people would?

As I already said, I never came back to Bondrée since the death of my father, but the place has grown and today there’s a lot of cabins and hunters around the lake. Since the publication of Bondrée, I met three hunters I had never met before who bought the book because of its title. One of them told me that his father bought a copy of Bondrée for every member of his family. Another told me that a school teacher, who has known Bondrée for a long time, bought a book for each of his friends. It proves that everyone in the region knows Bondrée, that everyone is proud of its origins, and that literature can gather people of very different backgrounds.

N. B. For the record, I’m not a hunter.

8. What are you reading right now? And what is one book that you have returned to again and again (either throughout your life or repeatedly during one particular period of your life)?

I’m reading Quand sort la recluse, the last novel of Fred Vargas, a French writer that I love for her (Fred is a woman) sense of humour, her unique way of telling stories, her completely wild imagination. I also just finished Le chemin s’arrêtera là, a novel by Pascal Dessaint, another French writer I just discovered and who I will surely read again, and Justice, an essay by Michael J. Sandel.

There is no book I return again and again, but there are a few novels I have read two or three times: To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf, The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner, Monsieur Songe, by Robert Pinget, Pleine lune, by Antonio Muñoz Molina, Demain dans la bataille pense à moi, by Javier Marías.

There are also some books I would like to read again: the plays of William Shakespeare, the complete works of Virginia Woolf, and the complete works of Anne Hébert, a French Canadian writer, for example.

Job Posting: Managing Editor

Biblioasis is an award-winning independent publishing house based in Windsor, Ontario. We publish approximately 25 titles a year, including short fiction, novels, poetry, literary criticism, memoir, belle lettres, local and regional history, and general non-fiction. We are also the publishers of the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries. We are looking for a skilled Managing Editor to help oversee our publishing operations. Excellent organizational, leadership, and problem-solving skills necessary.


  • Plan and manage daily operations
  • Help to supervise staff
  • Coordinate with editors on book and magazine projects
  • Coordinate editorial and production meetings
  • Oversee copy-editors and proofreading
  • Attend events on behalf of the company
  • Negotiate contracts, manage royalties and ensure payments are processed
  • Work with the editorial and production teams to maintain workable schedules
  • Maintain accuracy of bibliodata
  • Ensure smooth and on-going communication between all departments
  • Hire and direct freelancers
  • Manage stock systems
  • Participate in business and editorial planning sessions
  • Assist with grant writing and reporting
  • Other tasks, as required


  • Proven ability to create, manage, and maintain schedules
  • Proficiency in MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Detail-oriented: all aspects of daily activities are handled with accuracy and efficiency
  • Courses or certificate in a publishing program an asset
  • Experience in the book publishing industry an asset
  • Experience as a Managing Editor or in a similar role an asset
  • Working knowledge of Simply Accounting, Moneyworks, and Filemaker an asset

To Apply:

Please send cover letter and resume directly by May 15th to dwells@biblioasis.com


Revealing the Homerun Nonfiction Title of the Spring:
Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters by Mark Kingwell

Look what arrived in our office last week! Brand new, hot off the presses copies of Mark Kingwell’s latest book, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. An excerpt from the book was published in The Walrus as “Philosopher up to Bat,” if you want a taste of the pleasures inside this amazing cover (designed by Gordon Robertson).

Taking seriously the idea that baseball is a study in failure—a very successful batter manages a base hit in just three of every ten attempts—Mark Kingwell argues that there is no better tutor of human failure’s enduring significance than this strange, crooked game of base, where geometry becomes poetry.

Weaving elements of memoir, philosophical reflection, sports writing, and humour, Fail Better is an intellectual love letter to baseball by one of North America’s most engaging philosophers. Kingwell illustrates complex concepts like theoretically infinite game-space, “time out of time,” and the rules of civility with accessible examples drawn from the game, its history, and his own halting efforts to hit ‘em where they ain’t. Beyond a “Beckett meets baseball” study in failure, Kingwell crafts a thoughtful appreciation of why sports matter, and how they change our vision of the world.

Never pretentious, always entertaining, Fail Better is set to be the homerun non-fiction title of the season.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, you can always place an order via our website—or visit our bookstore in Windsor! Fail Better goes on sale April 2017.

Meet the authors: Pearson and Hanna sign books across Windsor-Essex

WINDSOR, ON. NOVEMBER 10, 2016. -- Authors Craig Pearson and Sharon Hanna (right) sign copies of the latest From the Vault book during a book launch in the Windsor Star News Cafe in Windsor on Thursday, November 10, 2016. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / WINDSOR STAR)

WINDSOR, ON. NOVEMBER 10, 2016. — Authors Craig Pearson and Sharon Hanna (right) sign copies of the latest From the Vault book during a book launch in the Windsor Star News Cafe in Windsor on Thursday, November 10, 2016. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / WINDSOR STAR)

If you missed the exciting launch of From the Vault II: 1950-1980, but still want a book signed or inscribed, you’re in luck. Over the next six weeks, the book’s authors, Windsor Star reporter Craig Pearson and Biblioasis regional history editor Sharon Hanna, will appearing at a variety of free presentations and signings across Windsor-Essex. Look through the list below for an event near you:

Note: Books will be available for sale at all events listed below. Events are subject to change without notice.

Friday, November 18 @ 5:00—10:00 PM (approx.)
1520 Wyandotte Street East, Windsor
Signing with author Sharon Hanna
Saturday, November 19 @ 1:00—2:00 PM
Tecumseh Mall, 7672 Tecumseh Road East, Windsor
Signing with author Craig Pearson
Tuesday, November 22 @ 7:00—8:00 PM
850 Ouellette Ave., Windsor
Presentation and signing with Sharon Hanna
Saturday, November 26 @ 1:00—2:00 PM
Devonshire Mall, 3100 Howard Ave., Windsor
Signing with Craig Pearson
Sunday, November 27 @ 1:00—3:00 PM (approx.)
585 Seacliff Drive, Kingsville
Signings by Craig Pearson (1 – 2 PM) and Sharon Hanna (2 – 3 p.m.)
Wednesday, December 7 @ 7:00—8:00 PM
6305 Wyandotte Street East, Riverside
Presentation and signing with Sharon Hanna
Thursday, December 8 @ 12:00—2:00 PM
401 Sunset Ave, Windsor
Presentation and signing with Craig Pearson and Sharon Hanna
Saturday, December 10 @ 1:00—2:00 PM
194 Commercial Blvd., Lakeshore
Signing with Craig Pearson

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Call for Contract Employee — Local Interest Sales Coordinator


Please note that the application deadline for the following job posting has been extended to Wednesday, September 28th.

Biblioasis Press is looking to add a part-time contract worker to support with the distribution, sale, and promotion of our fall regional interest titles. For over twelve years, our publishing house has built a reputation for producing high quality books, maintaining excellent vendor relations, and proving authors with excellent publicity outreach. We are perhaps best known in Windsor-Essex for the national best-selling From the Vault: A Photo-History of Windsor by Craig Pearson and Daniel Wells, 50 Greatest Red Wings by Bob Duff, and The Rumrunners by Marty Gervais.

What We’re Looking For:

We’re looking for a self-motivated, outgoing, energetic, and extremely organized individual to assist with the work of selling, delivering, and publicizing our local interest titles over the fall 2016 season. The ideal candidate should be able to maintain excellent professional relationships with our network of independent vendors across the region, deliver all orders on a timely basis, maintain stock levels, excite local media about our titles, and assist with all other sales, distribution, and promotional aspects of our regional book program. Though access to a car or van is not mandatory, it is an asset.

What You’ll Be Responsible For:

  • Maintaining excellent relations with independent vendors in the Windsor-Essex region
  • Expanding our independent vendor network
  • Coordinating the sale of books to vendors
  • Distributing Biblioasis titles to all vendors in a timely, efficient manner
  • Effectively promoting our books and their authors to local print and broadcast media
  • Assisting with regional author touring, including but not limited to: soliciting and coordinating author events, updating author itineraries, and transporting books (and occasionally even their authors) to respective events
  • Keeping close and accurate record of stock levels, both internally and at vendors

What’s Mandatory for the Position:

  • A driver’s license
  • The ability to lift boxes, on a regular basis, that may be as heavy as 20 kg or more
  • A flexible work schedule, which allows for occasional work on nights and weekends
  • The ability to work and keep cool under occasional periods of high pressure

Term Limit:

This contract position will expire on or around December 31, 2016, though it may be extended beyond that date.

To apply for the position, please email your cover letter and resume to gmunroe@biblioasis.com by September 28, 2016.

If contacted, you will be interviewed between October 3 – 7, and must be able to start the week of October 10th.

Call for Volunteers — Fall / Winter 2016


With a busy season approaching — perhaps the busiest in our history — Biblioasis is looking for a new group of enthusiastic volunteers. Our press office handles nearly every step a manuscript takes on its path to becoming a widely-read book, including acquisition, editing, typesetting, cover design, stock management, publicity, and bookstore sales. Authors published by Biblioasis regularly make news across North America: several have either won or been shortlisted for major awards; more have been featured and reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Washington Post, The Walrus, and other outlets. Volunteering here offers an opportunity to gain experience at one of Canada’s most prestigious independent presses. Students interested in the publishing industry are strongly encouraged to apply.

Sound too good to be true? Here are some blurbs from previous volunteers on their experiences in the office:

“I’ve learned a lot about what small tasks make up the greater scheme of the publishing industry. It’s easy to see the process of making books as a linear production, but in reality it’s a division of hard work and dedication to the craft.  That’s what makes volunteering here so rewarding.” – Joan Gabriel

“It has been great to put what I have learned in theory into practice. Getting real world knowledge and experience has been invaluable during my time at Biblioasis. P.S. Must love dogs. Even if you don’t, when you meet Loki, you totally will. Samantha & Loki, Best Friends for Life.” – Samantha Alfini

What You’ll Be Responsible For:

  • Logging reviews, press, and other media hits.
  • Assisting with author event coordination, including travel arrangements.
  • Updating and maintaining the press website.
  • Bibliodata and stock level monitoring.
  • Assisting with local, national, and international market research.
  • Assisting with catalog and advanced review copy mailings.
  • Assisting with miscellaneous administrative tasks.

What Will Be Required Of You:

  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Proficiency with social media.
  • Ability to work independently on a range of short, medium, and long-term tasks with minimal supervision.
  • Good verbal and written communications skills.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office, Excel, and PowerPoint.

What We Can Offer:

  • Travel and lunch stipend.
  • Employee discount on all books in the bookstore.

What We’d Ask of You:

  • A commitment of at least four hours each week.

Access to a car is preferred but not required.

To apply for the position, please email your cover letter and resume to gmunroe@biblioasis.com by September 23, 2016.

If contacted, you will be interviewed between September 26 – 30, and must be able to start the week of October 3rd.

THE INTERVIEWER BECOMES THE INTERVIEWED: Wachtel in the hot seat at Blue Met

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Montreal’s Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, one of Canada’s premier literary festivals, is no stranger to Eleanor Wachtel: The thoughtful and intrepid host of CBC’s Writers & Company, who is celebrating 25 years hosting the national literary staple, has attended all but one Blue Metropolis since its inception in 1999. Wachtel loves the festival for its wide scope and its location, her hometown of Montreal, which she says has “tremendous joie de vivre and savoir faire and je ne sais quoi.”

Although she’s more than comfortable interviewing the big names who grace the Blue Met stage, Wachtel found herself the interview subject at this year’s event, as she thoughtfully engaged with interviewer and Montreal author Will Aitken’s questions on hosting the show, interviewing authors, and the launch of her new book, The Best of Writers & Company. Listen to the full interview, from April 15 2016, right here:

Call For Volunteers – Spring/Summer 2016