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Oct. 25, 2022

Ann-Marie MacDonald: Mystery and Magyk on the Moors

We’ve always been here, writes Ann-Marie MacDonald. And so have the moors. She calls her new book the queerest she’s ever written. But what is queer? Isn’t everybody different? Fayne, published by Penguin Random House Canada, is placed in the late 1800’s and is full of love, diversity, and magyk. There’s also a fascination with pudding! The book is huge! So huge, we feared it might be a chore to read. It definitely was not.

Maureen was a bit intimidated to talk to her. After all, Ann-Marie MacDonald is a playwright, author, actress, even a tv host! And now she’s written a new, huge book. If you thought Fall on Your Knees was good, check out Fayne, published by Penguin Random House Canada and on sale now. She calls it her queerest book ever, and it’s full of magyk, love and learning too. Turns out she’s not intimidating at all. Unless brains, opinions, and a sense of humour put you off!

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Mary Anne (Voiceover) 00:00:02
The women of Ill repute with your hosts. Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway.

Maureen (Host) 00:00:07
Wendy, I read the best book this summer.

Wendy (Host) 00:00:10
Yeah, well, I did, too. We both did. 

Maureen (Host) 00:00:12
Yeah, it was the same book. It was literally the same book. We only got one advanced copy of Emma McDonald's new novel, Fame, one between the two of us, so we had to share it. And I read it first, and then I sent it to you, and now I'd like you to give it back.

Wendy (Host) 00:00:26
It's kind of big. It's like it's huge. I'm going to have to send a cargo or something.

Maureen (Host) 00:00:31
You know, it's like, what is it, 700, 800 pages? It's a big maybe book, but it was my best friend for two weeks at the college. I read it every day. I didn't talk to anybody. I was lost. I was lost on the moors. I was lost on the moors of Scotland.

Wendy (Host) 00:00:48
It's England.

Maureen (Host) 00:00:49
No, Fayne is neither England nor Scotland. I'm not a literature major, but I understand that that's what makes Fayne special. It's neither one nor the other.

Wendy (Host) 00:01:00
Well, I mean, really, how are we going to talk to Ann Marie McDonald, obviously, about her book if we don't go there? She said publicly it's the queerest novel she's ever written. The whole issue of gender figures, like, hugely in the story. We got to talk about it.

Maureen (Host) 00:01:14
Well, that's just it. I don't think I could talk to her.

Wendy (Host) 00:01:16
What do you mean?

Maureen (Host) 00:01:18
I am so intimidated. I love Ann Marie McDonald. She writes for me and no one else. And I'm intimidated by her breath of knowledge and also just her career, not just as a writer, but as a playwright and as an actor and she's a broadcaster. But apart from that, and I'm going to say this openly and freely, I get nervous talking about gender because, like you, I'm the mother of a very woke Gen X person who says I never get it right.

Wendy (Host) 00:01:44
You can't say walk anymore. Like, woke is like it's so old fashioned. It's a cliche Karen word.

Maureen (Host) 00:01:50
I know. Okay, so the correct pronouns I don't know. I don't want to be a gender offender. And I'm worried.

Wendy (Host) 00:01:57
So, Maureen, you're just going to sit there?

Maureen (Host) 00:01:59
Yeah. Now, I'm going to figure something out. But I do want the book back.

Wendy (Host) 00:02:03
Okay. So I'm going to rent a van or do cargo or, I don't know, get a big knapsack or something.

Maureen (Host) 00:02:14
Ann Marie MacDonald is here. She joins us to talk about her new novel, Fame. So you go first.

Wendy (Host) 00:02:19
Okay. Ann-Marie. How are you?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:02:22
Oh, my gosh, Wendy. I'm fine, thank you. And Maureen and I'm dazzled to be here, and I am humbled by the words. I just I don't know if you knew that I was listening, but thank you.

Wendy (Host) 00:02:32
Yeah, we knew you were listening. And I don't think she's really intimidated. I think she actually really wants to talk to you.

Maureen (Host) 00:02:40
I do. But I have to tell you not only have I read Fayne last summer, but I've been listening to Fall on your knees again. I read it now. I've been listening to the audio version. So I'm immersed in these different worlds that you create. And all kidding aside, I am in all of your talent. Although Wendy tells me that if I spent enough time writing, I could write one to write a book just like you.

Wendy (Host) 00:03:04
Well, it does take years, right? You took years to write this book and it all started with an image or something, and now it's 700. I went back and checked 722 pages. It's like, massive. So you like big books?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:03:17
You know what? I do like big books. And every story unfolds in the way that it needs to. It's not a coincidence that this is a Victorian novel. It is set in the late 19th century on this sort of disputed border area between England and Scotland. And I kind of cut my teeth as a reader as a kid, when I was ten years old. On Victorian novels, my primary influence is Jane Aaron Bugs Bunny, and I don't even consider them to be poles. They're like, there the poll would be somewhere down there. So, yeah, they wrote big books. And I relate to that because I sort of go, things really are connected. And when you start following one thread, you're going to meet that other thread you thought had nothing to do with this carpet. Oh, my gosh, it's the same carpet. I have to fill it in now. I have to continue this weave. And that is something beautiful about the Victorians and about that early Darwinian worldview, which is simply affirmed something that human beings we know in ourselves, which is that we're all connected. This is an inextricable web of affinities, not only between us as human beings, not only between us and the other creatures on the planet, but with the planet itself. We are all made of the same stuff.

Wendy (Host) 00:04:27
Well, people are people. Although these days I think that people are, like, finding reasons to hate each other. But I just find the reference to Jane Aaron really interesting because there was all about I don't know, it was all about, like, straight sex. And your book is dedicated to a guy who is a medieval philosopher who says, I am different. Let this not upset you. And it is a Victorian novel, but it's about we're all different.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:04:53
It's splendid variety. So much of what we have classed as disordered or diseased is simply variation. I believe that passionately and I think variation is what saves us. There are different sort of sociopolitical cultural buzzwords, etc, but we can think of many of them. But for me, it's variety and diversity in its true sense, you know, and that's something that we see all around us, right? Right now, there are so many skirmishes and wars and polarizations and the most heartbreaking are those that are igniting between people who really ought to be allies. But sometimes it's much easier to turn on your friend or ally than it is to turn outward and go, okay, what's actually the problem? Who's the enemy? What is actually the enemy here? Is it this person next to me who's made a mistake with the wrong words? Probably not.

Wendy (Host) 00:05:42
Well, let's not go there.

Maureen (Host) 00:05:44
Maureen words are very powerful. It's like Frankenstein, but funny.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:05:50
That is the best quote ever. If I could have only one quote on my book, it would be that, because also Mary Shelley is very close to my heart. Frankenstein is very close to my heart. Frankenstein's monster is evoked in this book. Jane AAR's, a mad woman in the attic, is evoked in this book. And there's lots of homage right, in what is essentially, I guess, a very contemporary queer story. In many ways. I like to think of it as a hot, heterosexual Victorian romance at the core of it.

Maureen (Host) 00:06:16
Yeah, that's true. So the book we are writing in general. But this book has been described as accepting. And I think that's important because some people who are looking for that experience. That Victorian novel. Gothic experience. Might be put off by a.

Wendy (Host) 00:06:31

Maureen (Host) 00:06:31
It's my queer it's novel to date. But what it does do is invite I mean. I challenge anyone to pick this up. Regardless of what your preconceptions are. And not acknowledge. It's a page turner. You just have to know what's going to happen. And that transcends any kind of gender conversation. I got to know what's going to happen.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:06:51
That's true. I'm a glutton for narrative. I'm a glutton for plot. And I guess it's kind of a flip way of saying that, for goodness sake, isn't it all about story? I mean, I hate to sort of open the curtain, in a way, but to say I work so diligently, so dedicatedly to craft sometimes with my tweezer and toothbrush, you know, little archeological detailed tools. I work so hard to craft a journey for the reader such that they forget anyone wrote it, such that it is immersive. And to do that, I can't learn a whole lot. And you mentioned something about me being rather authoritative or knowledgeable, and in fact, that is also part of the work. But I don't retain a detailed knowledge of late 19th century Victorian fashion. I don't even retain what, for a little while, post research would have qualified me to hang out a shingle as a late 19th century gynecologist. Even those details have fled. But I did construct all of these details such that the reader in the.

Wendy (Host) 00:07:52
Story yeah, well, apparently in those days, surgery on babies, they didn't even feel it.

Maureen (Host) 00:07:58
No, they said they didn't feel it.

Wendy (Host) 00:08:00
Yeah, which is ridiculous. And then it reminded me of a few years ago, they were doing surgeries on babies who were born with bits, who didn't work like perfectly male or perfectly female? Oh, well, if it says we'll just turn it into a girl. And it's not like girls need, like, orgasms. Right? Hello.

Maureen (Host) 00:08:17
That's still going on.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:08:19
Up until, I believe, the early 70s anesthetic for infants was not indicated and it was justified by saying, well, they don't feel it, which is ridiculous. So that's right up into our own era. And with regard to what is genital mutilation that it does still go on. Worried parents are counseled by well intentioned doctors to perform genital mutilation on children who are born with variations. Genital variations. And Intersex Awareness Day is coming up october 26. And I also consider this to be not a spoiler in my book because Charlotte this kid who's celebrating her 12th birthday. When you meet her, we just we follow her very early on in the book. You're meeting everything about her, her incredible brain, the wild moors, the lonely house, the mysterious widowed father, the portrait on the stairs, all of that stuff, all those Victorian things. And then you're in her bath with her her copper bath, and you're with her body. And, yes, she does have what she calls the prickle and that we come to understand as well. I think what she's got is, like, a very unusually large clitoris. Wow. And she doesn't know there's anything unusual about that. She just figures every girl has one. And she also doesn't understand or anticipate the wrath of the world that's about to be brought down on her just because of this ordinary bodily variation. And it is still happening.

Wendy (Host) 00:09:40
Well, it's good we never really talked about it. This is too much information. Maybe like, my dad was gay, I'm here, I'm a miracle. But in those days, it was a secret. He had to get married. I don't know. I just think that so much is changing and now you're writing a book about it and you're not afraid to talk about it openly. The whole world is talking about intersex instead of homophobic as some kind of scary thing. So, I don't know. I hope we're getting somewhere.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:10:08
I think we're getting somewhere. I sat on the jury to determine which artistic team would get to design Canada's national monument to what is in memory of the LGBT purge, when members of the armed forces and RCMP were kicked out of the force and the service for being gay, the fruit machine and all that. Anyhow, I don't even trust myself to remember all the letters in the alphabet soup because we've just added more. Okay, so, Maureen, you may want to look this up and commit it to memory and dazzle your Gen X daughter or son, but it is now two silgbtq. And I don't remember. I literally have to look it up and commit it to memory because it has changed since I was on the jury to become more inclusive. And I go, Is it going to kill me to memorize a couple more letters. No, it really is not. And the more inclusive, the better. And I love that the Eye is in there and I love that it's leading with the two as the two spirit. I think it's exactly the way it should be. But this is a national monument. It's going to be on Monument Row, on Confederation Road or whatever, in Ottawa, just to say that, yes, we're getting somewhere. I think we're getting somewhere. And when I say it's my queerest book yet, I go, yeah, I've centered this character who for her, she's just she is who she is. The world pathologizes her and, you know, she's not unique in this. The world did and continues to pathologize women just for being women. There is still major gender policing. She is in a world which is extremely strict in that regard. The gender norms are enforced to a degree such that if you were caught crossdressing in the late 19th century, you would be clapped in jail. So that's the kind of world she's in.

Wendy (Host) 00:11:49
Or sent to an asylum.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:11:50
And you can be sent to an asylum just for being a woman with, like, a heterosexual woman with a sex drive or a heterosexual woman who likes to read too much. Because you know what happens if you dedicate your life to intellectual pursuits as a woman? All the blood that should be nourishing, your uterus goes to your brain, and that is a terrible imbalance. You fall over, you have a seizure, you go crazy. It's very, very dangerous to put the books down. But also if you have too strong a sex drive and you care too much about having babies, that is so dangerous. Okay, that's really dangerous. But, you know, the weird thing is that this only really matters if you're kind of rich, because if you're poor, you're not going to be able to read books anyway. You're probably illiterate and it's okay work yourself to death because you're going to be dead before the menopause, which is a whole other thing.

Wendy (Host) 00:12:36
Yeah, Maureen and I both had cancer, and when I was going through the treatment, I was so struck. I don't know, maybe I'm raging some of this against the patriarchy, always has been, but I have other issues. But I did notice during that period that people were talking about hysterectomy. It's like hysterical, and then it's muforectomy if you have your over, like, all of the words. And I heard Jen Gunter, who has written this book about menopause being on a podcast the other day, and she was talking about all of these words, and it's what you say, it's basically women being turned into maniacs if they show any male like activities or any sort of non breeding female characteristics. I just find the words all kind of weird.

Maureen (Host) 00:13:17
Hysteria means uterus.

Wendy (Host) 00:13:19
Yeah, but why is it so close to hysterical?

Maureen (Host) 00:13:22
Well, hysterical comes from that you have problems with your uterus. You're hysterical. Isn't that hilarious?

Wendy (Host) 00:13:29
Well, of course. Send me to an that's the center.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:13:32
Of your being as a female, as a born female, that is the center of your being is the uterus. And if you go kooky, the reason for it will be there is because you've either spent too much time on it or not enough. And only usually a male doctor can figure that one out. And also to calm you down, often you'd have your ovaries removed just to calm you down. If you're a troublesome wife and you've already done your duty by producing children and heirs, then let's just get rid of that thing that's driving you crazy. And also, cluttered items were very popular, especially in the United States at the period.

Maureen (Host) 00:14:06

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:14:07
Just because it's making you crazy, it's making you want sex. Maybe it's making you want to go to university.

Maureen (Host) 00:14:13
A woman who wants sex is crazy.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:14:15
She doesn't want to get married, she wants to read books, she wants to go to university, maybe not even change the world, but just have a different kind of life.

Maureen (Host) 00:14:22
What clitoris fed me to university. It's actually heartbreaking. I mean, I'm laughing at the absurdity of it, but in the book as well, I mean, Charlotte's aspirations being dashed, just absolutely heartbreaking. I want to ask you about you have two daughters, you and Alice and your wife have two daughters. How is that going, raising them in this world?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:14:43
So it's Alyssa Elisa Palmer and I have two daughters, and they are seven. Well, she's going to be 18 next week, and the other one's going on 20. They're fantastic. My older one is at university now. The younger one, we live in Montreal, so she's at Sea Sheep, just pre university, and they're fantastic. And just when you think that you wonder if anything has gone in, you find out that, wow, they really are products of our family culture. Right. They nudge me and remind me to be more open. And we don't want to say woke because they don't say that word anymore. For them, all kinds of all kinds of fluidity is perfectly that's just the water they swim in. They're pretty straight up, really. Just nice kids who care about people, and they're smart and they're nice to each other. They come from a queer culture family. Right. So for them, that's just like that's ordinary. That's certainly not the world that they've grown up in, but it's their world and they're part of the change that we want to see. Really?

Wendy (Host) 00:15:41
Yeah, I think so. Maureen's got two kids and one married and moved out, and the other one just moved out.

Maureen (Host) 00:15:48
He just moved out. That's just a week ago. He's getting a Masters in Literature and he's in law school, and I'm very proud of him too. But yeah, he and Wendy's daughter Kate, they're exactly the same age and they have very similar politics. And we are often scolded. And I think Wendy and I are as aware and curious as anybody out there. But, yeah, we are held in contempt by this generation because, well, I mean, in some ways, we can't even help where we come from, can we? We just brought up in a very different world.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:16:20
My kids correct me all the time and I go, Great, just so long as someday you'll realize that I raised you to be able to stand up and correct me. Good, because I want to take credit for something. But, yeah, I am corrected by them all the time. And my mother used to like to integrate.

Wendy (Host) 00:16:36
We used to correct our parents all the time, I think, every generation, and I think it's also the job of a parent. And Maureen's probably better at this than I am. I've accused myself of not having a spine. I think I have one. It's just not always there of fighting back and saying, no, I may have made a mistake, but I have things to teach and you have things to learn. And I think that every generation, as they go forward, there's going to be change, there's going to be change, and something that they think now is going to be proven wrong and everybody's going to make a mistake at some point anyway. All of this to sort of make excuses for our kids who are less imperfect, but they are just people. Like, we're people, too.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:17:14
But my sister always says, you are the rock that your kids break themselves against, right? And I think, yeah, okay, bring it on. We used to play this game with my younger daughter, who is like, a major athlete now. I used to stand at one end of the upstairs hallway, and she would run at me and try to knock me over, and we play that game every night. And then there came a day where it was like, you're too big and I'm too small. I can't do that.

Wendy (Host) 00:17:37

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:17:38
But it was a concrete way of saying, yeah, you got to throw yourself against me. And I just have, like, also, just as the older generation and this was kind of what my play at Stratford was about, as the older generation, we've got to go. Yeah, bring it on. You're not going to kill me with your words and you're not going to kill me with your anger. And I'm listening. The women of ill repute.

Maureen (Host) 00:18:04
Speaking of listening, as I said, I've been listening to Fall on Your Knees after reading it. And I have two sisters, so the sister scenes are hilarious and they're horrifying and they're very familiar because we're like that that's being made into a stage play. You're writing it?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:18:19
No, no. My wife, Alisa Palmer, has driven the development of this. She is the cocreator and the director. She's the cocreator with Hannah Moskovich, who is the playwright who has adapted the script. And they are in Toronto doing a movement workshop right now with like the grooviest company I've ever seen. They're called Holo Jazz, and their artistic director is the choreographer for what is going to be quite a movement, music driven piece of theater which will unfold over two nights in the theater. It's got two parts.

Maureen (Host) 00:18:49
Wow. Everything's big in your world. Big books, big shows.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:18:54
You know what's funny is that because I'm I'm not physically big, I've had to admit I'm a kind of a shrimp. My mother was four foot eleven and a half at the end.

Wendy (Host) 00:19:02
The half was very important.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:19:05
Half was important. But she was an outsized personality and kind of like the original go bigger, go home. I guess that's kind of what I was raised with. And then on the other side. There was my amused. Quieter. Scottish father. Which is probably where I got some sort of sense that.

Maureen (Host) 00:19:21

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:19:22
You also have to have the toothbrush and the tweezers and really get down there in the details and really cultivate a kind of almost a cheerless Scottish stamina to get yourself through what turned out to be these marathons. Which is the way I have approached writing. Because it truly is a marathon. Right? It truly is. Like, I've got great tranches of story. They're all going to meet up, and in the meantime, there are details that I need to provide for the reader. And it's so interesting. Like, when I was a kid, I was the kid who couldn't stand to wear girls clothes. I still can't stand to wear girl's clothes, quote unquote. But for example, when I was writing this book, you know, there's the character May the mother, right? She's this young American heiress who marries the baron. And she's rich and she's 20 and she's fashion crazy, and I love her for it. And I go, you're so not the kind of girl I ever would be. And I kind of feel, as the author, I'm kind of like in your boyfriend husband's role, I'm having to sit for hours watching you try things on, and this is your idea of fun and I really love you, so I have to take notes. So I really honored her passion for all of this because here's the thing. Every detail like that is also political and it's also narrative, right? It matters what that thing is called that she just hooped on to herself. That matters because that's her world. And in her world, she thinks that's her power. She thinks she has all the power. She's young, rich, beautiful, and married a baron, and she is glorying and she's intoxicated with it. But ultimately, sweetheart, you're the woman. You have no power. And so all of that detail, all of that richness of her ruching and her decollete and her diamonds, et cetera, et cetera, that is going to be in contrast to what happens when she comes up against the actual powerlessness that's always waiting behind the curtain.

Wendy (Host) 00:21:21
I think every book, really every story, really every power play is about power. I mean, whether it's money or whether it's sexual or whatever, it is all about power. But I'm really fascinated, and maybe it's because I'm married to an Irish guy who grew up in Scotland, so he has a Scottish accent, but he's Irish family and sort of IRA background. He likes to say, what is it? A cow born in a stable doesn't make it a horse. So he's Irish in a spotted stable and he's sort of halfway between a cow and a horse. But what I really loved was the new quote that I'll have to run by my mother in law, because she likes to say and I just find that it goes against the way that I was raised as a nice Canadian girl, whatever. Maybe not so nice, but Canadian. Anyway, the phrase what can't be cured must be endured. And I just thought, no, you fight. Fight, man. Come on, fight. So you have that in there, and it's a very Scottish phrase, but the new one that I loved was, what can't be mended must be ended, which is more of the camp that I'm in. But, yeah, life is not that simple, especially if you're a woman in the 1880s or whatever. And, yeah, you've married the baron and you're lucky.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:22:31
That's kind of the Gothic bump, bump moment. There will be Gothic repercussions here.

Maureen (Host) 00:22:38
Can we talk a bit about magic? As an M-A-G-Y-K. Because that's fantastical writing and it does happen in fame and your other books as well, but this very much so. I mean, there are actual physical manifestations that defy logic. How important is that to you both as a literary device, or do you indulge your magical thinking?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:23:01
GYK I believe in all of that. I am fascinated by science and by the history of science, by medicine and wellness and the history of medicine and wellness and who gets to define those terms. And I'm fascinated by spirituality and by magic and by the extraordinary interweaving of all of those, because it seems that every now and then we emerge from magic and we call it science because we've figured something out and we have some metrics that's just sort of one kind of historical track. Right? And I find that fascinating. What was considered magic is now simply science. But I suppose that ultimately, I do believe that we do share a huge kind of network of consciousness, and I believe that the planet is truly our source of that and that we're part of it and that there's all this mystery, what really is dark matter of which, apparently most of the universe is made up. I go, could it be consciousness or something that was called luminiferous ether, which I'm positing as perhaps consciousness? What is it? Right, just like a fish says to the other fish, how's the water? What's water? Right. I do believe that we are all connected, and I do believe that consciousness is real and shared and immense and complex.

Wendy (Host) 00:24:18
But is consciousness magic?

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:24:20
Like, you can call it magic. I mean, Einstein called it spooky action at a distance, right? A particle changes here, and on the other side of the universe, another particle changes, and apparently they proved that mathematically.

Wendy (Host) 00:24:31
Well, people would think now, people 100 years ago would think that the Internet, the fact that we're talking to each other via the Internet would be magical.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:24:38
Well, we are harnessing natural forces and bending them to our will. That's technology so interesting.

Wendy (Host) 00:24:44
It's making me think of another very famous writer. Yuval, Noah Harari, and I interviewed him a couple of years ago. He's written a bunch of books, and he's sort of famous whatever, loves history and science and all that stuff. And he's, like, really deep with Silicon Valley, and he said that he was this was a couple of years ago. He said he was going to take the next year, four months in particular, meditating about consciousness because he thinks that's the answer to everything and that's the debates about artificial intelligence, too, is, are we special because we have this consciousness? So I just find it really interesting that you're so fascinated by that.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:25:16
I am fascinated. I'm encouraged to know that he is taking a year to meditate on consciousness. I think that makes a difference. I think that kind of thing makes a difference. I happen to think my own scant relationship with certain technologies and AI, et cetera, I feel like it's a diminution and an abasement and a reduction of what is actually possible and that it pales before consciousness itself. It's a tool.

Wendy (Host) 00:25:42
We're very deep. We're very deep.

Maureen (Host) 00:25:44
But they're inspiring ideas.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:25:46
How did we get here? I was talking about clothes, and now you're talking about consciousness.

Maureen (Host) 00:25:51
Well, we went from fashion to magic, too.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:25:54
Oh, magic. Yes. I do believe in magic. Yes, I do. We'll call it magic because insofar as the things that happened there, I do believe they are possible. I do believe we can say, well, that can be scientifically explained and that can be magically explained. And when I spell magic in the old way, in an old way with a Y and a K, that's saying this is wisdom that we all have access to. It's older than we know, and it's eternal, and it's bigger than we are, and we are contained in it. We don't contain it. It contains us, and we can become aware of it, and we can become aligned with some of its more beneficent influences right, that come in this case, right up from the Earth. The wisdom of the actual mud and the idea, ultimately, that this acreage, which is seen as useless, is something that we now know is an extraordinarily valuable and critical carbon sink. We now know that there's a reason why ancient peoples. Didn't go tearing up the Earth because of the exhalation of carbon. The fact that the more is considered and more lens are still considered to be useless in some quarters. They are ripped up, lime is dumped, trees are planted, trees that can't even thrive as communities. But the fact is that at the end of the story, ultimately feign the estate, this erstwhile, useless new orland is going to hopefully one day achieve personhood, legal personhood status. And I think that that's the way of the future with other species and with the land and with nature.

Maureen (Host) 00:27:30
Hasn't that happened? There's been a case where places a tree are given personhood to protect it.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:27:37
And I think that's got to be the way of the future, is extending legal rights to the rest of the planet and everything and everyone on it.

Maureen (Host) 00:27:45
I want to ask you a little bit about the ending, which is really hard because there are so many twists and turns and I want people to listen to this before they read the book and listen to it afterwards because there's so much insight and the end is both ambiguous and perfect. It's a happy ending, I think that's not a giveaway in a situation where you thought, how could this ever end up well for any time? And yet it does. So I think you must be an optimist, Amarie. You must be a huge optimist. I get the feeling that you are probably yeah.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:28:18
Hope springs eternal, right? Absolutely. And I do believe that when anybody is left to tell the tale, that that's a happy ending. But in this case, this is a much happier ending than just that. I think it's probably the happiest ending of all my books. It's really happy. And I wanted to write something that did have that energy in it. Right. And I think that's why it begins with a kid, with her kid energy that takes us right through there's. The joy and the verve and the appetite for living and for truth and for not backing down and for not easily unloving people. Right. It's always mysterious to me the idea that people can just drop people. I mean, I can't do that. And I'm always trying to say everybody has to be on stage at the end regardless. We have to continue to bear witness to the whole thing, otherwise we're going to forget. I was talking with somebody about this and they made an observation which I thought, oh, okay, that kind of unlocks the whole center of the book, which is for all the romance or for all the sex, etc. And it's friendship that is truly the paramount relationship that keeps reasserting itself throughout the whole book. It becomes paramount and it's the lifesaver is friendship.

Wendy (Host) 00:29:28
Well, I've realized friends have always been important to me, but it's only ann. Maureen is a new friend, newer than five years, which is new when you pass 30.

Maureen (Host) 00:29:38
Yeah, but I'm awesome. So you don't make up for all that time before the before times.

Wendy (Host) 00:29:43
But it's so much more. It's so important. I think it is the most important thing, and I think the closer you get to the end, the more you focus on what's important. So I'm glad that you ended the story happily and that you focus on friendship. And we got to go soon, I guess.

Maureen (Host) 00:29:58
Andrea, thank you. Thank you so much. I feel all nourished and inspired.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:30:03
I hope that I'll get to meet you in person and sign real books for you.

Maureen (Host) 00:30:07
Yeah, that will be great. I have a stack for you.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:30:09
Oh, good. I hope at least I get to sign. That the arc that you read, and you read a book that is four pages longer than the published version. So I'm sorry you had to read about more flowers and birds.

Wendy (Host) 00:30:20
Oh, they took out the flowers and birds? Well, just a few.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:30:24
I mean, there's still thousands. Don't worry.

Wendy (Host) 00:30:25
Well, that's what was so interesting. All of the research. Like, I wrote down, this table is hurtling through space at the rate of 67,000 mph. Just it's amazing, like, all the bits that you stick in there, and not just about being a gynecologist in 19 1880. Whatever. Anyway, it's a really good read. When Maureen said that's really long, I was like, okay, well, you read it, and then I read it, and I.

Maureen (Host) 00:30:49
Was like, she doesn't like fiction.

Wendy (Host) 00:30:50
Well, I like fiction.

Maureen (Host) 00:30:52
But now you like fiction. Now you do.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:30:55
See, that's the basis for an enduring friendship right there.

Maureen (Host) 00:30:58
Yeah, I think so. All right, Emery, we'll let you go. We're going to get you to leave, and then we talk about you. So you'll have to listen to the episode to hear what we say.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:31:06
I know. When I listened, I thought, what are you going to say about me after I leave?

Wendy (Host) 00:31:10
Well, we haven't really trashed anybody. There's always hope.

Maureen (Host) 00:31:14
Oh, I think a couple. You could tell we were scarred afterwards, but this isn't one of them. Thank you so much.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:31:20
Thank you so very much. It's a privilege that I've been a fan of both of yours, and I have the utmost respect for your work, and it's thrilling that you're doing this. And thank you for including me.

Wendy (Host) 00:31:29
Oh, thank you.

Maureen (Host) 00:31:35
Okay. I love doing this podcast because at the best of times and I think this is the best of times, I feel like I learned so much. I don't care about the guests. It's such a wonderful experience for me, and I want to read that book all over again. And I guess we're sort of conveying that because it's awesome.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:31:54

Wendy (Host) 00:31:54
To me, about the podcast and about her, obviously, it's an excuse to get to meet people like her and to have these conversations and ask sort of uplifting, deep, rude, whatever questions, because it matters, and they're here to be thoughtful. And we're here to be thoughtful and share stuff, too. And it's a lovely excuse to talk to really smart people. I thought she was lovely. And I knew she had a sense of humor because well, she's funny because.

Maureen (Host) 00:32:20
Her writing she also there's tremendous humor in her writing.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:32:24

Wendy (Host) 00:32:24
But I remember her as host of some CBC show where we were all way too serious. And she was all way too serious.

Maureen (Host) 00:32:30
But the other thing I love about this podcast is that you're always looking for the funny.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:32:34
Now I've always been looking for the.

Wendy (Host) 00:32:36
Funny only well, there was a talk about consciousness.

Maureen (Host) 00:32:39
Yeah. Hey, it takes a deep breath and to know they're shallow. So I'm just going to leave you with that. The book is called Fayne. That's Fayne. And if you haven't picked up on it, Wendy and I just think it's just a wonderful story from beginning to end. It'll make you laugh. It'll make you think. And it should be out by the time you hear this. So pick it up. And if you're lucky, Ann Marie will be there to sign it for you.

Ann-Marie (Guest) 00:33:01
It's great to talk to her and adopt to you.

Wendy (Host) 00:33:03
And To talk to you.  As always, 

Mary Anne (Voiceover) 00:33:04
the women of Illinois repute. With Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway. Available on Apple podcasts spotify Google Podcasts or at Women of Ill Repute dot com. 

Tara (Voiceover) 00:33:10
Produced and distributed by the Sound of Media Company.