For author Leona Theis, literature is about exploring what it means to be human – and so Culture Days in Saskatchewan is about exploring what it means to live in this province.
Theis, who’s from Saskatoon, came to the Reid-Thompson Public Library Sept. 28 to read part of her yet-to-be-released novel, If Sylvie Had Nine Lives, as part of Humboldt’s Culture Days celebration.
Before becoming an author, Theis was a librarian, adult education program developer and completed a masters. It wasn’t until she moved to Australia for a year because her husband had a sabbatical that she decided to become a writer.
“We moved halfway around the world, I had a toddler to look after and I couldn’t work in Australia because I didn’t have the right legal status to work,” she said. “I loved looking after my toddler but I needed something more, especially after working so hard on my thesis.”
She added that becoming a writer doesn’t require a big investment.
“I hadn’t really thought about writing before then but I had had quite a few big major life events happen within a couple of years,” she said, adding that she got divorced, got married, had a child, had her mother die and lost her job.
“It was this coming together of a lot of big events and that seemed to put me in a creative space.”
Theis started writing short stories based on her childhood in Bredenbury, near the Manitoba border.
“I would take a memory and I would follow it to try and find some meaning and some larger story from that indelible memory.”
Now, when she wants to write, she’ll put together a character and an idea together and see where that will take here.
Theis has published one novel, the Art of Salvage, and one collection of stories, Sightlines. She’s working on two novels and a novella, plus a collection of memoir essays.
For her, challenges that come with writing are self-discipline, as well as the many drafts it takes to come up with something she likes.
“Different writers write for different reasons and for me, it’s to explore ideas,” she said. “I’m also just captivated by the process of making something that makes a good aesthetic shape, so for me it’s about the creation of something and working at it and working at it until until I can make it into a shape that pleases me.”