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Author Elizabeth Hay inspires Laurier community during weeklong visit
It was a full week of exciting events with award-winning Canadian author Elizabeth Hay, who was Wilfrid Laurier University’s Visiting Writer for 2014. Hay visited Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses March 17-21, holding lectures and readings, leading creative writing sessions and reading groups, participating in panel discussions, and visiting classrooms.
During a discussion with the Laurier Reads Elizabeth Hay reading group, Hay discussed her writing process and how she developed Late Nights on Air, the book chosen for the reading group.
“‘What really matters to me?’ is a question I ask myself,” said Hay. “What comes are pressures on my mind. Usually this also comes with a place.”
Late Nights on Air is set in and around a small radio station in Yellowknife in the Canadian north of the 1970s, and is based on Hay’s own experiences working at the CBC in Yellowknife.
“I go back and live that time imaginatively,” she said. “More fully than I actually lived it.”
The group also discussed the themes and characters in Hay’s work, and Hay divulged the various titles the book had – changes brought on by doubting friends and critical editors – before she finally settled on Late Nights on Air.
Hay has won multiple awards for her work. Late Nights on Air won the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize, among other awards. Hay also won Laurier’s 1993 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, for The Only Snow in Havana. In 2002 the Writers’ Trust of Canada presented her with the Marian Engel Award for her body of work, which includes novels, short stories and creative non-fiction.
Laurier’s Visiting Writer program is sponsored by Laurier’s Office of the Vice-President: Academic and Provost. Past writers have included Alissa York, Joseph Boyden and Lawrence Hill.