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Kobo Writing Life Podcast

The Kobo Writing Life Podcast brings you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We feature interviews with bestselling authors and industry experts, who share practical advice you can use to improve your writing and sell more books. Hosted by KWL's very own Joni Di Placido and Stephanie McGrath, you'll also get the latest news and updates about Kobo and the KWL platform. Self-publish today at

Sep 27, 2016

What if some of the artists we feel as if we know – Meryl Streep, Neil Young, Bill Murray – turned up in the course of our daily lives?

That’s the basis of this collection of linked stories that follow Rose McEwan, an ordinary woman who keeps having extraordinary encounters with famous people.

Nora Parker, Merchandising Coordinator at Kobo, interviews Marni Jackson, author of Don’t I Know You? Published by Flatiron Books in New York.

In the interview, Nora and Marni discuss:

  • Marni’s turn to fiction from her previous books such as Pain: The Science of Why We Hurt and Home Free: The Myth of the Empty Nest
  • The accidental manner by which these stories ended up converging into the linked-stories novel that it became, starting with a short story Marni wrote called “Bob Dylan Goes Tubing” which was originally published in The Walrus in September 2012
  • How that same “Bob Dylan” short story was inspired by a painting that her son created one afternoon when they were at the cottage
  • How Jackson choose who to include in the stories and how Rose McEwan’s relationship to celebrity evolves throughout the tales
  • How Bill Murray is a great character in the book because of the carefully curated and crafted persona of “Bill Murray” that he deftly manages and uses to connect with his fans (or, to use a very Canadian term, as Marni does: “Stick-handles” his fame in a really interesting way
  • The interesting relationship between celebrity and audience and how the audience or fans actually “author” a celebrity’s fame
  • The manner by which celebrities don’t necessarily exist “out there” in the distance, but that they are very much a part of our creative lives (ie, we may put on one of their songs while we are having sex – a perfect example of how they are incorporated into those intimate moments)
  • The juxtaposition of the journalist in Jackson who enjoyed documenting real elements from the celebrities in this book with the fun and fictional encounters with Rose
  • Jackson’s interest in our relationships with celebrities and our relationship to fame rather than in the cult of celebrity
  • The Al Purdy stage show project that Jackson is currently working on based on the film al purdy was here which she co-wrote that her husband, Brian D. Johnson, directed
  • The concerns regarding the mention of famous people in the book and the fact that Jackson’s lawyer went through it with her line-by-line to ensure there was nothing that could be construed as libelous or defamation of character

After the interview, Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life and Author Relations, shares some thoughts regarding Author Branding, outlining some ways in which an author can ensure that they are curating and presenting a consistent author persona or brand out into the world. He draws upon a couple of examples that, like in the Bill Murray reference Marni Jackson uses, are Canadian. He uses his own example of the use of the life-sized skeleton Barnaby Bones that he employs for his Mark Leslie horror/paranormal/ghost story author persona. He also explores Hugo and Nebula Award winning science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer who uses the “Dean of Canadian Science Fiction” element throughout his persona, including the name of his website: SFWRITER.COM. As a final example, Mark looks at the fonts uses in the title for the Netflix original STRANGER THINGS and how that makes a promise to potential viewers.

Other links of interest:

Marni Jackson's Website

Marni Jackson's Books on Kobo

Flatiron Books

The Walrus Magazine

Branding for Writers – from Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn