In Aley Waterman's debut novel Mudflowers (Rare Machines/Dundurn Press), Sophie's life seems like an indie movie dream from the outside – in her cramped but cool apartment in Toronto's west end, she spends her days making beautiful stained glass pieces for well-meaning but out of touch wealthy clients and her evenings cozied up with gorgeous Alex, her childhood best friend and sort-of-lover.
What isn't visible is the fog of grief Sophie is moving in after her mother's death and the confusion she feels about both her situation with Alex and her sudden new feelings for Maggie, a beguiling poet. As the triangle of Alex, Sophie, and Maggie becomes more and more strained, long-buried secrets threaten to up-end Sophie's personal, artistic, and emotional reality.
Exploring ideas of love both familial and romantic, coming of age in a city of inequality, and the strange, destructive ways in which grief can manifest, Waterman's debut novel marks the arrival of a remarkable new literary voice. A tale that feels both timely and nostalgic at once, Mudflowers delves into loss, chosen families, and the sometimes uncomfortable social, financial, and emotional realities of creating art for others with absorbing storytelling rendered in precise and beautiful language.
To celebrate her literary debut, we asked Waterman, who lives in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, to take on our Dirty Dozen challenge, where writers share 12 facts about themselves.
She delivered with a dozen relatable and offbeat facts and anecdotes, from celebrity cat name drama and chip tips to leftie pride and one less than impressive (but very funny) test result.
The Dirty Dozen with Aley Waterman:
1. I used to think that "novice driver" signs were written by people from Boston who were nervous because they were driving somewhere so far from home.
2. I believe that the concept of the leap of faith is responsible for most of the good things in my life (trust in others, devotional love, enforced denial of dread, ability to teach and write, optimism, etc).
3. I have a constant inner monologue going: this is what it is to be alive, this is life and we are existing in it right now. Sometimes it produces gratitude, sometimes existential dread, and sometimes just a general annoyance because I can’t escape it, but it’s always there.
4. I named my cat after a semi-famous person who I looked up to for reasons I won’t get into here, and in more recent years we met, but it turns out that she doesn’t like me. I try to keep the details of this a secret because we have friends in common.
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5. The biggest lie I ever told was pretending to be British on a cruise ship for a full week when I was 10.
6. Regular ketchup on plain chips is good.
7. I am left-handed and was the last kid to lose a tooth in my grade.
8. Once, after going through a rough breakup and watching a bunch of Grey’s Anatomy, I drunkenly tried to do an MCAT prep quiz online, and got a 0.
9. Aries Sun, Cancer Rising, Pisces Moon (Mars in Cancer Venus in Taurus).
10. Sometimes I DM celebrities on Instagram. I messaged Joe Biden the day he got elected and said “Congrats”, but he never wrote me back.
11. I’m not big on dogs (except a couple of specific, special dogs), ice cream, or bacon.
12. I feel the need to clarify re: the sentence structure of question 11 that I don’t mean eating dogs, but being around them generally. I’ve been bit by 11 dogs total, starting with a German Shepherd police dog when I was a kid. I’m coming back around to them now because I recently moved in with one, but it’s been a long and painful process (they can smell fear, perpetuating the cycle, it isn’t their fault).
Aley Waterman is a writer and musician from and currently residing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. She completed her MA in creative writing at University of Toronto under the mentorship of Sheila Heti. Aley’s writing has appeared in Bad Nudes, Hart House Review, Vault Zine, Riddle Fence, and the Trampoline Hall Podcast.