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Pictured: Frances Itani

On Tuesday, November 3, Frances Itani presented at Trent’s Writers Reading Series in front of a full audience. Itani has won a large number of awards, including three CBC awards and the Common Wealth Award. Event host
Professor Lewis MacLeod referred to her as “one of Canada’s most respected and admired writers,” as well as a “member of the Order of Canada, international sensation, humanitarian [and a] sponsor of the youth flute award.”

Itani presented a “special smorgasbord talk about the function of music in three of her most loved novels: Requiem, Deafening, and Tell.” MacLeod mentioned that there is a connection between music and literature. He continued to say that Itani is “a lyrical writer” and “a straight-up musical person.” In order to make her stories especially musical, Itani listens to a collection of music as research for every novel. Sometimes she evens listens to music while writing. Itani explained that, while writing her books, she has “to find a way to put music into words.”

Her story, Deafening, is about a deaf woman who surprises her significant other when she tells him she can still hear music by watching body language and feeling vibrations. She could also tell her significant other’s heartbeat from another beat. This book is “inspired by the experiences of her deaf grandmother.” Itani spoke very highly about deaf history and language. She even gave the audience a brief history of the deaf school in Belleville.

Right now, Itani is currently researching the human brain for a novel she is planning to write after her next one is published. She even mentioned that she never hires anyone to do research for her because she feels the need to really “sink” into her research. The audience was spoiled by Itani when she gave away secrets on how she finds the inspiration to her stories – including admitting that she doesn’t always know what she is looking for when she starts.

Often, she gets her ideas while talking to someone about their interests and advice. One of the audience members asked, “Do you have any advice for Trent students who want to learn how to write and publish novels?” She answered with this story: “When I was your age listening to an author in Toronto, the same question was asked and the author said: ‘Never give up!’ ” Itani continued her answer by explaining that, along with persevering, “the biggest job of the author/writer is to read.” Itani’s next project is working on a book that will be the third book to her trilogy.

The book takes place just prior to WWII and follows the lost infant child in one of the earlier books in the trilogy. The Trent Bookstore was selling Itani’s three novels at the event. In fact, the Trent Bookstore attends every Writers Reading event and sells the works of the night’s guest author.