Here's some info on her latest novel.
Title: Once in a Town Called Moth
Author: Trilby Kent
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: September 6th 2016
A gun in a lake. A Missing mother. Ana is on the run. But from who? For fans of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.
Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, and her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn’t know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the myriad unspoken codes and rules. She is befriended by a teacher. She goes to the library, the mall, parties. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father—also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own.
This is a beautifully told story that will resonate with readers who have struggled with being new and unsure in a strange place, even if that place is in a classroom full of people they know. Ana’s story is unique but universal; strange but familiar; extraordinary but ordinary: a fish out of water tale that speaks to us all.
Ri: What inspired you to write Once in a Town Called Moth?
Trilby: The trigger was a photo essay about Mennonite communities in Bolivia. The pictures of children and teenagers going about their daily lives at home, at school, and in the fields sparked my curiosity about what it must be like to come of age in such a controlled community.
I started plotting out the story around the time that my daughter was born, when my husband and I were talking about leaving our home in London, England, to move to Toronto, where I’d grown up. So in part it’s also a little homage to the city that I found myself returning to after many years abroad.
Ri: What sort of research did you do for the novel and is there something weird or interesting that you learned during the process?
Trilby: The great thing about writing a contemporary novel, as opposed to a historical one (this is my first book set in the present day), is that you can conduct research with living people. I was able to interview women who had experience growing up in Mennonite communities in central and South America, as well as a few who have studied these communities or worked with young people that have made the switch into mainstream Canadian schools.
There’s a huge range of Mennonite experiences out there: so many variations within a single church, depending on where in the world you go and which historical line of development you decide to focus on. Moderate, Reformed, Old Order, and Conservative Mennonites all work differently, which means you really have to be specific about which group you’re talking about.
One of several interesting things I discovered involves naming traditions. Many Mennonite families follow a pattern in which the first daughter will be named after her maternal grandmother, the second daughter after her paternal grandmother, the third after her mother, and any subsequent daughters after their aunts. It works the same way for boys, using their male relatives.
Ri: It’s clear that your anthropology background influences your writing through this novel. Are there any other groups or cultures that you would like to write about?
Trilby: At the moment I’m starting work on a new novel that’s partly about a group of children who befriend a Vietnam draft dodger, so I guess you could say I’m currently interested in people who have opted out of war for a variety of reasons, moral and philosophical and personal. By coincidence, there’s a South American connection in this project, too – which is a bit strange, as it’s not a region I know well (in the past, when I’ve written about another place or culture – South Africa or India or Belgium – it’s always been somewhere I’ve had first-hand experience).
My first love is still history, though. I’d love to write a history of the world for young people at some point…watch this space!
Ri: Do you like listening to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to?
Trilby: I tend to write in silence (an empty house is ideal!) but there are usually a couple of songs that act as the soundtrack to any work in progress. With MOTH, it was the old classic Tonight You Belong To Me as well as Devil’s Got A Gun by Whitehorse. Right now I’m listening to Steppenwolf.
Ri: What are you currently reading?
Trilby: Smoke, by Dan Vyleta, which I’d highly recommend, and a couple of books on American war resisters in Canada. Also the current issue of Monocle and a raft of picture books about starting school, because my daughter begins kindergarten this fall.
Ri: Finally, what is some advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers?
Trilby: Read! Start as close to the end as possible. Remember that character is conflict, and conflict is story. Get out of your own way – by which I mean aim for writing that doesn’t often remind the reader about you, the author (and your impressive vocabulary, or deep grasp of existential philosophy, or hours spent on research, etc.). Don’t rush to send out your first draft, hard as it may be: put it away for a while, get someone you trust (not a family member!) to offer feedback, and edit ruthlessly. And don’t be afraid to cut – no writing is ever wasted, even if it ends up in the Trash folder.