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Sheila Murray
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Sheila Murray’s articles and short fiction have appeared in Canadian magazines and journals including Descant, ad The New Quarterly. Finding Edward is her first novel.
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This is a gallery of work specially created for #ThinAir2022. Spend time with writers you love, and discover some new favourites! Ceci est une galerie de travaux spécialement créée pour #ThinAir2022. Passez du temps avec des écrivains que vous aimez et découvrez de nouveaux favoris!

Sheila Murray’s articles and short fiction have appeared in Canadian magazines and journals including Refuge Journal, Descant, The Dalhousie Review, Exile, White Wall Review, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Room and The New Quarterly. Sheila has worked as a documentary filmmaker and television sound editor. Finding Edward is her first novel. She moved to the non-profit sector in 2009, and now leads a grassroots, volunteer-driven initiative that engages urban residents in adapting to local climate change impacts. Born and raised in England, Sheila’s father was Black Jamaican, and her mother, white English. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Interview / Entrevue

I don’t remember hiding anything from them. Our bookshelves (I grew up in England) were packed. My dad loved fiction like John le Carre's, and lots of biography, history, and so on. We also had the classics: poetry, Dickens and Shakespeare. As a child, I read Shakespeare, out loud, to myself, in the bathroom. But It was my mother’s books that most interested me. Writers like Dorris Lessing, Jean Rhys, and my favourite as a young teen, Iris Murdoch, whose books dealt with love, sex, desire, and madness, in wonderfully diverse and dramatic ways.

That’s a tough question because just about all books have more than one wonderful line. From what I’ve read most recently I’ll choose from Toni Morrison’s, Beloved. Paul D. is going to try to escape to the ‘free’ North. He’s afraid of the tracking dogs.There have been heavy spring rains and scents should be gone, so now’s the time to run. But he doesn’t know how to get North. He asks a Cherokee man whose answer haunts me still,

“Follow the tree flowers,” he said. “Only the tree flowers. As they go, you go. You will be where you want to be when they are gone.”

Imagine the courage, to rely entirely on nature, and to trust that, as you travel north, spring blossoms will move ahead of you. This is the consistency and reliability that nature can provide. Wow. (See my answer to the question about worry.)

I’m both. It’s a mess of clutter when I’m deep into it, books, magazines, papers, stickies, coffee mugs, snack plates, notebooks—occasional cat. But once the task is done, I tidy. And I tidy and clean again before a job. It’s part procrastination, but mostly about clearing out to make creative space.

I have one overriding, existential anxiety, though it doesn’t keep me awake at night. Because if I let it do that I’d never sleep again. Here it is: climate change. Climate change will continue to amplify just about all of our social problems. It’s already pretty loud….

I have two small ambitions that I have, hitherto, kept to myself!

- Jumping into water and then swimming under water for at least 30 seconds. I can swim, and float, but I do find water a little scary — even though I love to kayak. This time next year, for sure!

- Playing guitar well enough so that I can sit with my musician friend out in our courtyard and sound like something my neighbours would like to sing along with. Next summer perhaps?

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