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Yue Zeng interviews Lee Kvern



Lee Kvern is a female author of both short stories and novels. Unlike many other award-winning authors, she began her writing career after having a four-year degree from ACAD in graphic design and illustration. With no previous training on creating a literary piece, her writing life started with her encountering  a writer at an awards dinner. It wasn’t until after she dove into the novel-writing world that she realized reading a lot is far from enough for a professional writer. She then joined numerous writing communities like the Writers’ Guild of Alberta to further enhance her skills. The following is a brief interview of her writing life and experiences, which I think would be very useful for those of you who are also very interested in making writing into a career and are too scared to have it come true.


Q: I noticed on your personal website that you write both novels and short stories! Which one do you enjoy writing more out of the two and why? What’s the main differences you notice between writing a short story and a novel?


A: Short stories are my first love but novels also hold a dear place in my writing world. What I prefer about short stories, like Alice Munro, is that a writer is able to dip and out of a story in the midst of raising small children, working and running a household. Short stories are concise, condensed, require a discipline in that only what matters to that particular story gets to stay on the page. Novels, on the other hand, are large galaxies that must be carried around in your head for years in order to complete.


Q: I noticed that your latest published book is 7 Ways to Sunday in 2014, and the gaps between your previous published books are around 4-5 years. Have you been working on a new book? Or have you been trying to do something different than publishing books these few years?


A: Generally a book, whether it’s a novel or short story collection, takes me five years from writing to publishing. The publishing industry is slow so that process alone can take up to a year and a half. I am always working on one or more of the above projects. I also sit on book and award and grant juries along with doing mentorships with emerging writers within the community. I’ve done frequent W.i.R. programs, mentored up at the Banff Centre (twice for my bucket list! Lol.)

It’s a given that most writers/artists must subsidize themselves in other ways, which of course, takes you away from the writing/art itself. I’ve recently come back to practicing my art in conjunction with working on short stories. A win/win for me.


Q: What have been your purpose of writing? Is it based solely on personal interest, or is it about some ideology or message you are trying to send out to our society? Has your purpose changed at all over the years? What else have to tried to do to achieve it other than writing for magazines and publishing books?


A: I don’t necessarily have ‘a purpose’ per say when I sit down to write, although all my writing across the board is concerned with social issues. I am particularly interested in us as human beings. Usually in family settings, always in dire straits. One of the main stays of my writing is taking two divergent stories and melding them together into a story that holds redemption in ways that life often doesn’t or can’t. For me, redemption is key, hope in dark places is what keeps me involved as a both a writer and reader.

In terms of other pursuits, I’ve been an active activist for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (Google: Michener, Lee Kvern and you’ll see me plastered all over the place)



I found it really fun reading the interview responses from Kvern since I once thought about becoming a writer when I was little. Her way of answering the questions are also very descriptive and vivid. I also like how Kvern connects her writing career with some realistic problems, she’s rather frank about them and loves giving a lot of additional details. The thing that relates to me the most was when she mentions her theme of writing, saying “redemption is the key”. Interviewing Kvern was an incredible experience and I would very love to read more of her work and learn more about her pursuit as a writer.

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