Artist and musician Leanne Dunic has proved she's got literary chops on top of her other artistic talents, with honours including first prize in the Alice Munro Short Story competition. So it's no surprise that her debut novel, To Love the Coming End (BookThug), is an affecting and absorbing book.
In To Love the Coming End, an obsessive author deals with personal grief by leaning into a fixation with natural disasters. It's a deft exploration of the contradictory nature of grief as both isolating and uniting. Moving between Singapore, Canada, and Japan, the novel is both worldly and interior, emotional and earthquake-powerful.
We're pleased to have Leanne on Open Book today as part of our Dirty Dozen series, where we get to know authors through 12 unexpected personal facts. Read on to hear from Leanne about how her work with her band bleeds into her writing process, her own experiences in Japan and Singapore, and why you can expect chickens and bug sex in her written work.
- In grade three, I wrote a book report on the reproductive system. In grade four, I wrote one on whales. My grade seven report was on Frank Zappa. I think this sums up the themes in my work.
- If there were a song I wish I wrote, it would be Body by the Presidents of the United States of America. I find myself wanting to create something that reflects my fascination with amphibians, but I can never match PUSA’s mix of reality, humour, and catchy hooks.
In 2015, I started a manuscript called 1 1. That same period, my band was recording an album, and during this process I wrote a song called To Love the Coming End of the World (which then became the album title).
When BookThug picked up 1 1, we noted the difficulties of producing a book with a numerical title – especially one with a space between the numbers. Realizing the similar themes between the song/album and this book, the book title became To Love the Coming End.
- The first song I ever performed live was Five Days in May by Blue Rodeo.
- I started working when I was seven years old. My childhood jobs included delivering papers, babysitting, farm-tending, baseball umpiring/announcing, and packaging locally-made greeting cards (which featured photographs of teddy bears in a variety of vignettes). I got involved in the music industry at age fifteen, started my own music management company at eighteen, and left that after a couple of years to open my first clothing store.
- My book takes place in Singapore/Japan/Canada. I first lived in Singapore as a model, and I’ve lived in Japan in short bursts for several artist residencies.
- On walks, I compulsively (my husband’s word, not mine) pick up 6-pack plastic rings and domed-Slurpee lids to cut up at home to prevent unintended wildlife strangulation.
- In grade three, I had a couple of friends over to play. I forced them to listen to Roundabout by Yes on one of my dad’s mixtapes - even at that age I appreciated the distinctive bass sound and thought that they should, too. They were completely uninterested, wanting to play ‘house’ instead, so we got into a fight. My guests these days are still subjected to Yes when they come over to play.
- I do not like The Smiths. Deal with it.
- Some unintentional recurring imagery in my writing/artwork: birds (usually chickens), music, bug sex.
While I was researching the 1700 Cascadia Subduction earthquake for this book, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in that same region.
While in L.A last September, there was an earthquake advisory for the duration of my time there, which meant that there was an increased chance of the ‘big one’ happening. Thankfully, it did not.
On the last week of my trip to Japan this past December, I had the fortune of experiencing my first ‘big’ earthquake (5.4) from the tenth floor of my hotel room. With To Love the Coming End‘s themes of earthquakes, curses, and superstitions, I can’t help but wonder…
- According to Chinese astrology, Paul McCartney and I would make an ideal couple.
Leanne Dunic is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, and writer. Her work has won several honours, including the 2015 Alice Munro Short Story Contest, and has appeared in magazines and anthologies in Canada and abroad. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Leanne is the Artistic Director of the Powell Street Festival Society and is the singer/guitarist of The Deep Cove. To Love the Coming End is her first book.