Coming Full Circle

Tears in the Grass

Coming Full Circle

Posted on March 24 by Lynda A. Archer in Fiction, Interview
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An Interview with Lynda A. Archer, author of Tears in the Grass


What was your first publication?

My first publication was in the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders in 1977 when I was working as a speech/language pathologist. The article described my work with young, physically disabled children who were not able to speak and the picture and symbol system I taught them so that they could communicate.

My first short story, published in 2006 in the Wascana Review, tells of a pawn broker, Mortimer, whose eight-year-old daughter was hit and killed by a car. Mortimer struggles to find ways to recognize, accept, and speak of his grief. One of the ways he copes is by listening to opera music.

Now, almost forty years later, it seems I am continuing to give voice to people and characters who are struggling to speak, to find the right words to say.


In your own work, which character are you most attached to and why?

Of the dozen-or-so characters I have created in my short stories and novels, I am most fond of Elinor in my novel Tears in the Grass. Elinor is a feisty and wise ninety-year-old Cree artist and a roll-your-own smoker. I am attached to her because of her courage and wisdom, and because my grandparents were important to me as I was growing up.

I think I am also attached to Elinor because she was not content to remain silent in my drawer when Tears in the Grass was not accepted after its first round of submissions to publishers. I attribute the final completion of the book to Elinor’s continued tugging at my heartstrings, and her push to speak, to be heard. As a First Nations friend told me, the ancestors were talking to me.


What are the most memorable responses you receive from readers?

When a reader says my story brought her to tears, and when a reader says she recognized something in her own life from what my characters were experiencing. I also value when a reader refers to something in the writing itself, perhaps that he finds my choice of words or a specific phrase to be poetic and beautiful.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Anne Lamott’s advice about perfectionism in her book, Bird by Bird: “Get back to your shitty first draft.”


What are you reading right now?

I often read several books at the same time, fiction and non-fiction. At the moment I am reading Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee; Cool Water by Dianne Warren; God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; Blue Territory: A meditation on the life and art of Joan Mitchell by Robin Lippincott; and Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience by Monique Gray Smith. 

Lynda A. Archer

Posted by Dundurn Guest on May 19, 2015
Lynda A. Archer photo

Lynda A. Archer

Lynda A. Archer holds a MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has worked as a clinical psychologist for more than thirty years. Her short stories have been published in The Dalhousie Review, The Wascana Review, and The New Quarterly. Tears in the Grass is her first novel. Lynda lives on an island in British Columbia.