Episode 52 Amy Leblanc Interviews Sydney Hegele

Jun 5, 2023


In this interview, Amy Leblanc and Sydney Hegele enter into generously powerful conversations about their creative practice, the pitfalls and complexities, the struggle and pain, and the exploratory processes that emerge in the craft. Using Hegele’s award-winning book, The Pump, as a jumping-off point, Sydney discusses the complexities of small towns and their interconnection with the gothic: how identity and place are sometimes toxically inviolable, how their are deep-rooted intergenerational ripples that occur within these spaces. This discussion touches on so many fascinating topics from class politics of space to the speakers’ complex relationships with the variety of genres their creative practice spans. This beautiful interview is for those who love the complexities of creative writing craft and the gothic.


Amy LeBlanc is a PhD student in English and creative writing at the University of Calgary. Amy’s debut poetry collection, I know something you don’t know (Gordon Hill Press, 2020) was long listed for the 2021 ReLit Award and selected as a finalist for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. Her novella, Unlocking (University of Calgary Press, 2021) was a finalist for the Trade Fiction Book of the Year through the Book Publishers Association of Alberta. Amy’s most recent book, Homebodies (Great Plains Publications, 2023), is a collection of interconnected Gothic short stories. Her next poetry collection, I used to live here, is forthcoming with Gordon Hill Press in 2025

Sydney Hegele is the author of The Pump (Invisible Publishing 2021), winner of the 2022 ReLit Literary Award for Short Fiction and a finalist for the 2022 Trillium Book Award. Their essays have appeared in Catapult, Electric Literature, EVENT, and others. Their novel Bird Suit is forthcoming with Invisible Publishing in Spring 2024, and their essay collection Bad Kids is forthcoming with Invisible in Fall 2025. They live with their husband and French Bulldog on Treaty 13 Land (Toronto, Canada)

Show Notes:

4:15 — Introducing The Pump

5:25 —Discussion of the cover art by London painter Jeremy Bruneel

6:05 — Launching a book during COVID

8:00 — The power of in person events for indie presses

8:15 — Being nominated for the Trillium Award

10:59 — The experience of being read by strangers, friends, and family

15:50 — Reading guide for The Pump

16:50 — Is there something more gothic about small towns than cities? Discussion of trauma and class divides in small towns

20:15 — Reference to the song “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast

21:48 — The imagery of water in The Pump

22:50 — Trauma being like the character of Venom from Marvel

22:30 — Alice Munro epigraph at the beginning of the book and collective history

23:50 — Visiting place vs being routed in place

25:15 — Discussing the end of The Pump

26:30 — Envisioning “after” The Pump and leaving town

229:15 — How did Sydney craft the role of beavers in The Pump

30:25— Writing in London, Ontario

31:20— The mistreatment and abuse of land and land as character

39:00 — Discussing the prologue and epilogue, motherhood, and what it means to grow something in space of The Pump

40:30 — The contrast of moving to a small town vs being raised in a small town and Sydney’s mother’s journey

46:09 — Sydney’s essay on It in Catapult

47:00 — Transforming the mundane into horror

50:30 — Discussing Sydney’s chapbook The Last Thing I will see Before I Die

53:00 — The use of white space in poetry and Sydney’s poetic practice

56:45 — Having a comfortable vs uncomfortable reading experience

58:16 — Reading Pen Pal by Daniel Auerbach

1:01:12 — Reading Goodread reviews

1:04:22 — Poetry as the impossible form and the ways poetry and prose are difficult

1:08:50 — Authors editing their already published books during readings

1:11:03 — Discussing Sydney’s first novel Bird Suit coming 2024, and their essay collection Bad Kids coming 2025

TIA House recognizes the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library.

TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Shuyin Yu, Ryan Stearne, Shazia Ramji, Rebecca Geleyn, Mikka Jacobsen, Benjamin Ghan, Amy LeBlanc, Marc Lynch, and Mahmoud Ababneh.
Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.


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