12 Questions with Vancouver Author Robyn Harding
Robyn Harding is a Vancouver-based writer and filmmaker whose array of work has made its mark throughout the world. As an author, her books have hit the bestseller’s lists in Canada, the US, and the UK. As a screenwriter and executive producer, she watched as her independent film The Steps premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and closed out the Miami International Film Festival.
Even after hitting all of these impressive professional milestones, Robyn doesn’t consider them to be her most important accomplishments. “Hitting the bestsellers lists has been amazing, but my biggest successes are personal,” she says. “I have a happy marriage and my children have grown up to be kind, intelligent, grounded people. And they are both hysterically funny.”
We chatted with Robyn ahead of the release of her upcoming book, The Arrangement, out July 30th, 2019. The Arrangement follows Natalie, a New York City art student, as she dives into the “sugar bowl” to find a sugar daddy that can help her pay the bills – but ends up tangled in a web of deceit, obsession, and murder.
Here’s what she shared:
- What does a typical day in your life look like?
I get up early, grab a coffee, and I start writing. My head is clear in the morning and I’m more creative and productive. At about 10:00 A.M., I shower, get dressed, and walk my dog. In the afternoon, I usually focus on editing or any sort of administrative work (social media, interviews, taxes, etc…).
- Where do you write?
I have a tiny office in my home and I work at a stand-up desk. My office is a complete mess, but I read that creativity thrives in chaos, so I don’t bother cleaning it up.
3. What helps you get in your flow/zone?
Getting up early. I am so much more creative and productive first thing in the morning. (It’s all downhill from about 11:00 A.M. on.)
- How many books do you read in a year?
Not as many as I would like to. I’m a slow reader. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m savouring each word? Reflecting on the structure of each passage? More likely, it’s because my mind is mush by the end of the day, so I just stare at Netflix most nights. Still, I read 25 to 30 books a year.
- What’s on your bookshelf now?
I have books stacked up all over my house. (One of the best things about being an author is that I get a lot of free books!) But I only have one small bookshelf. On it, I have Tim Winton (my husband is Australian and a huge fan), Kate Atkinson (my idol), and an Italian translation of my very first book, The Journal of Mortifying Moments (or I Momenti Piu Umilianti Della Mia Vita), because I love the cover.
- Do you prefer paperback or e-reader?
I alternate between paperback and e-reader. I recently started wearing reading glasses and I can never find them and they’re always so dirty. With the e-reader I just make the font bigger, eliminating the need for glasses. But there is nothing like holding a real book in your hands, looking at the cover, seeing how many pages are left in inches, not percentages.
- What’s your go-to meal or recipe?
I am such a boring cook! My husband creates great meals on weekends: cassoulet, beef rendang, moussaka… My go-to is black bean fajitas. Quick, easy, cheap, and healthy – and I will eat anything covered in guacamole.
- How do you handle failure?
“Everything happens for a reason” may sound corny and clichéd, but I believe it to be true. When I have failed in the past (and I have failed often), I’ve usually found that better things have been waiting for me. I remind myself of this when I experience failure now. (It usually takes a few days to sink in, but eventually, it works!)
- When do you feel most alive?
When I’m travelling. I went to Iceland recently and it was mind-blowing.
- What would people be surprised to know about you?
I once competed in a rodeo.
11. How close is your offline life to your online life?
I post about books and travel, but I don’t share much about my personal life or my family.
12. In real life, face-to-face interactions are on the decline as the world becomes more and more virtual every day. What are some ways you connect with your tribe? What do you do to ensure you’re having authentic face-to-face interactions regularly?
Because I work alone, from home, I make a real effort to connect with people. I have always volunteered. It gives my week some structure and allows me some social interaction (as well as, hopefully, making a difference). I also have a friend who lives near me and we power walk at least once a week. I usually schedule coffee with someone or lunch, if there’s time. And I recently started taking a pottery class. I’m a terrible potter, but I’ve met some lovely people.
Keep an eye out for The Arrangement, Harding’s latest novel about a sugar daddy relationship that turns toxic and deadly. “I did a lot of research for this one,” says Harding. “[Including] talking to actual sugar babies and setting up an online account. The “sugar bowl” is a fascinating and creepy place!”
Want to finish up the summer with a great book? Head over to our Brookstore to see our top picks and find a new favourite!
Shannon Hodgen is a lifelong writer, DIY enthusiast, and homebody. She satisfies her need to put pen to paper–or, more accurately, fingertips to keyboard–as an agency copywriter, blog contributor, and freelance editor in Toronto.
Favourite Book: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Favourite Brunch Spot: Dirty Food Eatery in The Junction