Hi, everyone! My name is Mary Ann, Book*hug’s new student intern. I’m so excited to get started, to get out of what has risked becoming a repetitive routine of researching and writing papers, and dip my toes into a very different type of literary experience. As a life-long reader and lover of all things books, the chance to get involved on the publishing end of the literary world is a bit of Willy Wonka moment for me – a look at the factory making your favorite candy, if you will.
To tell you a bit about myself, I can’t think of a better place to start then my first book. Or, at least the first one I remember. It was Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham; some of my earliest memories are of my mother and I, seated on the apartment floor, teaching me to write my name on the book’s title page. That was the rule – write your name first, then you can read. Suffice to say, looking back, that book’s not the richest material. Perhaps given enough time, my university-trained brain could come up with a twenty-page analysis on some of the finer philosophical points of green cold cuts. But the reason why this memory sticks out to me is because it was there, seated on the carpet so many years ago, that I fell in love with books. My hand-writing isn’t as terrible and the books may change, but that love never does.
Writing, and English in particular, has been at the center of my post-secondary education for the last five years. After graduating from high school, I wasted no time applying for three universities: University of Toronto (Scarborough and St. George) and Ryerson. All three accepted, to my relief, but it was Ryerson that particularly caught my eye. I’ve been there ever since my 2013 BA in English, where I am now currently attending my final Spring semester of their MA Literatures of Modernity program. It’s been one long, consecutive ride of school, but I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s the benefit of studying something you’re passionate about; writing has never felt like work to me simply because it’s a part of who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life.
As you can probably tell, my academic interests are very much focused on literature. But a book-lover and (hopefully) future author can’t survive on academia alone! The type of books I read have always been rather eclectic; I was lucky enough to grow up with a vast and ever-changing library. Certain genre fiction, particularly horror and science fiction, remain some of my favourites because they are also so very close to the old horror and sci-fi movies from my dad’s VHS collection that I’d watch with my brothers (there’s four of them, by the way!). But, really, I’ve always been willing to take a look at any book that’s come my way. It’s hard to settle on a particular type because the things that grab me are not a matter of genre, but a matter of story: interesting characters, beautiful prose, an engrossing world. These are the elements of good stories in general, and they can inhabit anything from a haunted house, to the depths of space, or a suburban backyard. “Tell me your story,” has always been my philosophy. I’m here to listen. Or read. In terms of my personal reading list, I just finished Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, and the book I’m currently delving into is Chelene Knight’s Dear Current Occupant. It’s such an immediately powerful text, and the unconventional hybridity of the story, like letters and photos, have absolutely hooked me in.
But that brings us to Book*hug, which is already such a breath of fresh air. Their passion is contagious! As I said, my goal is to be an author myself, and what’s got me more excited than seeing how the candy is made, so to speak, is the knowledge of how much care and dedication they put into each project. The books themselves that I’ve been introduced to are so wonderfully experimental and clearly driven by the authors themselves. I absolutely cannot wait to learn more about each of them, the stories themselves and even the stories behind those stories.
Thank you so very much to Book*hug for taking me on, and here’s to the journey ahead!