The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Martyn Burke

Where do you go when you've lost the girl of your dreams? If you're Danny and Hank, the protagonists of author and filmmaker Martyn Burke's new novel Music for Love or War (Cormorant Books), you head straight to a Hollywood psychic. Even though you're supposed to be in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

By turns heartbreaking and comic, Music for Love or War whisks readers from encounters with the Taliban to the pathways of High Park in Toronto, and incorporates characters as diverse as Hugh Hefner and a menacing cardboard cutout of Liberace. Unmissable, witty and timely, the novel is a perfect spring read.

On Writing, with Shane Neilson

What represents a person's identity more strongly and fundamentally than his or her face? This idea of the face as the inescapable representation of a person is explored in Shane Neilson's evocatively titled On Shaving Off His Face (Porcupine's Quill). Shane delves into the experience of pain and illness, both physical and mental, through the image of the face.

Today Shane tells Open Book about the inspiration behind the collection, including his experience as the parent of an ill child, his work as a physician and its influence on his writing process, and seeing himself in the faces (and experiences) of others.

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The Lucky Seven Interview, with Suzanne Alyssa Andrew

Art student Nik is searching for his mysteriously vanished girlfriend in Suzanne Alyssa Andrew's Circle of Stones (Dundurn Press). The story however, belongs to a much larger cast of characters, who intersect with both Nik and his girlfriend, Jennifer, in surprising and revealing ways. As the tale of Jennifer's disappearance emerges, so too does a much wider story about grief, love and the disorienting process of dealing with loss.

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