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To Know or Not to Know

June 15, 2010

Kathy Page talks about her latest novel THE FIND:

I trained as a psychotherapist, though I never practiced (writing suits me better!),  I’ve always been  interested in relationships and in the different ways people make sense of their lives;  I’m especially interested in unexpected, unusual bonds between people, in the way that a so-called bad relationship can, paradoxically, do someone immense good –  that’s a big part of The Find.

The main character, Anna, developed as a result of  a chance visit to a nearby museum in Courtenay, where they have a large Elasmosaur skeleton  suspended from the ceiling by invisible strings (it was discovered by a child), like some kind of strange and beautiful extra-terrestrial being. I’m absolutely not a dino-geek,  but I became fascinated by  the people who dedicated themselves to recreating the vanished  worlds that the rest of us glimpse when we visit  museums.

Anna is a scientist, but  as the story progresses she herself becomes an object of scientific enquiry,  because she  is at risk for HD –  a devastating, incurable  disease in which both body and mind degenerate relentlessly to the point of death,  and which normally begins to show itself  in middle age. If you are at risk (a 50 per cent chance if one of your parents had it) then it’s possible to find out with a simple test whether or not  you will develop it.  To know or not to know? It’s a deceptively simple question, but actually huge. Think about it….  When the story begins, Anna has been bending herself  around that question for years.

These two things – the paleontology and the genetic testing, are intimately connected: mutation and evolution, chance and fate.  And of course, in the novel, they are both discoveries to be made  by the same person, Anna, who  is passionate in her desire  know about the world beyond herself, but at the same time, afraid to know the information written within. The pressure of dealing with the question that hangs over her life  drives her to do something she would never ordinarily consider,  behaviour, and as a result, the story unfolds…

Kathy Page lives on Salt Spring Island, BC. Her 2002 novel, The Story of My Face, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and Alphabet was nominated for a Governor General’s award in 2005. The Find was published in April 2010.

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