Ann Eriksson envisioned a young woman, a pianist, standing outside a concert hall and across the street there was a woman watching the performer.
She didn’t know who the woman was.
But the image was the seed that eventually turned into her latest novel The Performance.
“I am a very visual writer it sort of manifests in my head first,” said Eriksson. “My talent as a writer is really to translate those pictures in my head into words.”
The Performance is about a young pianist named Hana who develops a friendship with a homeless woman named Jacqueline, who sells handmade mittens and collects bottles to buy tickets to see Hana perform.
Social issues are important to Eriksson.
In The Performance Eriksson shows the stark disparities between wealthy individuals and people living in poverty.
In past books such as High Clear Bell of Morning, Eriksson discussed environmental issues. The novel features a marine biologist named Glen whose daughter Ruby becomes ill and he begins to uncover similarities between his daughter’s illness and the death of a killer whale, whose body is full of toxins.
To write a more accurate picture of Jacqueline in The Performance, Eriksson travelled to New York and worked with a homeless advocacy group in Manhattan to learn about homelessness.
“I was quite shocked to find them everywhere. In front of store fronts and sleeping on benches,” said Eriksson, adding her shock was because the area was considered one of the city’s most wealthy neighbourhoods. “I myself was taken back when introduced to the depths of homelessness and inequality.”
To develop Hana’s personality, Eriksson interviewed piano students, read books on the subject and talked to music agents.
Hana is a naive classical pianist who attends Juilliard and whose patron arranges for her to have a Manhattan apartment and a European tour. But there is a darkness in Hana’s past she must face that is tied to her privileged upbringing.
Eriksson reads excerpts from her book and will sign copies of her novel at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library Monday (Nov. 21) at 6:30 p.m.
The Performance was published by Douglas and McIntyre and was released in October.
For more information about Eriksson and her novels please go to www.anneriksson.ca.