When author Emily St. John Mandel starts a novel she's not sure where the journey will take her. In her latest, "The Lola Quartet" she takes us on a twisting road from New York City to Florida with her main character disgraced journalist Gavin Sasaki.
Emily St. John Mandel is in Toronto to talk about her third novel this week. In The Lola Quartet her main character Gavin has issues with extreme heat. Problems dealing with heat is the one thing she shares with Gavin said Emily smiling as she relaxed in the air conditioned library at the St. Germain Hotel this morning. Canada born, New Yorker Emily said that Gavin wasn't based on anyone else but he was her starting point when penning her latest novel.
"I knew I wanted to write about the economic collapse and how the fore closure business dealt with that," Emily added that many of her friends were affected by the recession becoming unemployed. She also wanted to touch on the concerns that there are pythons and other species not native to North America now in the Everglades. Journalist Gavin Sasaki is back in his hometown doing an article about the giant snakes when he is confronted with the possibility that he fathered a child a decade ago while in high school. As Gavin deals with a fall from grace in his career he returns to his home town. There he works with his successful sister in the foreclosure biz while researching if he is a father and what happened to his high school friends during the past decade.
"One of the scenes of the book has Gavin seeing a headline that reads the second gilded age," Emily let on that really happened to her in 2006 while out walking with her husband.
Asked what she hopes that readers will take away from The Lola Quartet the young author said, "I want people to enjoy the book and like the literacy and plot driven story."
The Lola Quartet is a fun read. The plot twists are plausible. My only critique of the novel is that one of the Florida characters has a basement bedroom. I had to ask Emily about that one detail and she admitted she had never lived in Florida. (Very few homes in Florida have a basement because of the low water table.)
Born in Comox, British Columbia, Emily now calls New York City her home. She lived in Toronto before heading off following a boyfriend to the Big Apple while studying dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Emily learned after moving to the States that the fact of her father having been born in California automatically made her an American citizen. She came back to Canada briefly for a stint in Montreal but the lure of New York was too much.
"When I returned eight months later to New York I knew I was half American, which made it so much better," Emily confided.
A fourth novel is in the very beginning stages. When she's not penning a novel Emily works at The Millions, an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture since 2003. She also works part-time as an administrative assistant for an university health team.