An interview with Margôt
When did you write your first story?
I was six and at my grandparents' place on Saltspring Island. “Nana, I want to write a story,” I said. She sat me at a card table with a stack of paper and pencils. I wrote all day. The words I used were spelled phonetically. I remember I spelled “people” like this: peeaple. My Aunt Sue thought it very funny and read it aloud to the family that night. It was a beginning.
What are your favourite things?
I bet you think I’m going to say cats, or dogs. I do like them a lot, but my favourite things are woods, meadows, brooks and ponds—and all the plants and creatures that live in those places. I especially like songbirds whose sweet voices fill up spaces away from the noise of cars and the hubbub of modern life.
How do you spend your time?
Writing is a big part of my life. I was a high school English teacher for eighteen years, so writing was part of my job. I was also a student for many years, and writing was required for success. I still have an academic life and enjoy writing papers about interesting historical subjects.
In the past, my “fun” writing—poems and stories—had to be fit in with these other writing activities. My hope is that “fun” writing becomes a regular feature of my life.
My family is a tribe of gardeners, so growing plants for flower and food is a familiar and happy pastime. I have planted native shrubs and trees to attract birds to my yard. In the fall, they love the berries these plants provide. I am always pleased when birds stop by for a visit.
What were the first books you read as a child?
Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit comes to mind. After Potter’s series, I devoured Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and other mystery series written for children.
My grade five teacher read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit aloud, chapter by chapter, and I was mesmerized. I will never forget that experience. By age twelve, I had read Lord of the Rings and went on to read all of Tolkien’s work. I saved up and bought a box set of C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in 1968.
I also read Legends of Vancouver by Pauline Johnson when I was nine or ten, and it has had a lasting impression on me. Probably my grandmother—the same grandmother who set me up at the card table with paper and pencils—told me the stories when I was even younger.
Libraries are wonderful places, and I made good use of them when I was a child. I was hardly ever without a book to read.