Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Grace O'Connell

On chatting with Grace O’Connell about her debut novel, Magnified World, I was surprised at how calm she is about being Random House’s New Face of Fiction

Her humility is genuine and though she spoke about the challenges of writing a novel at only 28, she makes it seem so effortless. 

We had the privilege of learning about how she balances work and writing, and  her favourite Toronto hangouts. Meet Grace! Our Hip + Urban Girl of the Week.

Tell us a little bit about your journey, did you always intend on being a writer?

I started writing at a very young age and come from a family of readers. Growing up in the western suburbs, I was a creative child, always writing and sharing stories. In 2006, I moved to Bathurst and Dundas, sleeping on a friend’s couch - it wasn’t always easy. You have to stay focused on the goal and it involves making sacrifices, sometimes financial and sometimes with relationships. 

What essentially is Magnified World commenting on?

It’s about the way we know one another. The way we know and don’t know the people that we love. When our relationships with the people we love change, the way we see the world changes.

Do you have any role models and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Some of the writers I look up to are Lisa Moore and Alice Munro. My advice is to be confident, be practical, have someone read your work - a discerning reader, someone who will motivate you and who encourages you once in awhile with approval and praise. My editor, Michelle MacAleese invested in me, she took a risk on me and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her support and enthusiasm!

Where are your favourite bookstores and why?

Type and Ben McNally - these are beautifully crafted bookstores. They tap into a magical feeling of when you were a kid and that sense of wonder about books.

Tell me some of your favourite things to do in Toronto and your favourite hangouts?

Biking, going to the Island, I love going to Grange Park. At night, I like Sidecar, 1602, Grossman’s tavern, and Kensington.

Which celebrities would you spend a day in Toronto with and what would you do?

Hugh Laurie, Tina Fey, they are both hilarious, Tony Decker! I’d rent bikes with them on the Island, and then go see a movie at the Carlton or go see the TSO.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Slice, HGTV, diet coke and slushies

Are you working on a new project?

I won’t say anything except that I’m writing a new novel that involves video games and fairytales! 

To learn more about Grace, visit her online at:

By: Leticia Cambre


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