Photo credit: Heather Pollock

Cathy Marie Buchanan

New York Times bestseller and book club favourite Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of three novels.

Her most recent, Daughter of Black Lake, was chosen as Best Fiction for Fall by Entertainment Weekly and Parade magazine. Her previous novel, The Painted Girls, was a New York Times bestseller, a #1 national bestseller in Canada, and was named a best book of the year by NPR, Good Housekeeping and Goodreads. Her debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still, was a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection and a Canada Reads Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade. Her work has been translated into nine languages. Buchanan holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University, and recently became a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Toronto.


What is your idea of perfect happiness? Laughing with my sons. What is your greatest fear? The relentless forward march of time. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I’m an accomplished ruminator. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Chronic complaining. Which living person do you most admire? My mom. What is your greatest extravagance? Unfettered book buying. What is your current state of mind? Cluttered. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? A tie between political correctness and chastity. On what occasion do you lie? To spare feelings, and even then, not easily. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Faded youth. Which living person do you most despise? A really, very bad person, who tremendously overuses adjectives. What is the quality you most like in a man? Integrity. (Or is it broad shoulders?) What is the quality you most like in a woman? Integrity.Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Um. F**k. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My sons Jack, Charlie and William. When and where were you happiest? Weekend mornings reading aloud to my not-yet-grown sons. Which talent would you most like to have? Speed typing. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My need to rush. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising my sons to the best of my ability. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Definitely not an alarm clock. Where would you most like to live? Toronto.What is your most treasured possession? A strong mind and body. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Raging anxiety. What is your favorite occupation? 1950s housewife? I like cooking, gardening, and sewing. What is your most marked characteristic? Perseverance. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Fun. Who are your favorite writers? Margaret Atwood, Geraldine Brooks, Ian McEwan, Carol Shields, Miriam Toews. Who is your hero of fiction? Marmee March. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Marie van Goethem. Who are your heroes in real life? Given that I’m answering this during a pandemic, frontline workers, public health experts and the scientists working to find  solutions. What are your favorite names? Jack, my eldest son’s name. During the Middle Ages is was used as a general term for “man” or “boy.” What is it that you most dislike? Gross excess, waste. What is your greatest regret? That divorce upended family life (though I would not un-divorce). How would you like to die? In my sleep. In bed. With my lover’s hand on my hip and an open book on my chest. What is your motto? “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Thank you, Margaret Atwood.