'Cartographer of No Man's Land' on World War One's place in fiction

Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:11am EST
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By Randall Mikkelsen

BOSTON (Reuters) - Writer P.S. Duffy wove her affection for Nova Scotia's maritime culture, a career in science and a background in history into a debut novel depicting the trauma of World War One on the psyche and society.

The book, "The Cartographer of No Man's Land," is about a young would-be artist and his scarred return home after the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where Canada's victory helped forged its national identity.

Duffy, a neuroscience writer at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, has also written a textbook and a memoir of her family's life in China during the Communist revolution.

She spoke with Reuters about her writing life, science and literature, and the cultural legacy of World War One nearly 100 years after the first shot was fired in 1914.

Q: What is your background in literature and science?

A: I've been writing all my life. My family were storytellers ... I was writing, even though I was writing science or essays. And I had poetry published ...

It really wasn't until around 2000, after I had published this memoir about my family's time in China, that I thought I will really work on fiction and get a handle on it.

Writing comes easily to me, in terms of putting a sentence together, crafting a paragraph, the rhythm and the feel of language. I needed to learn a lot about the basic elements of fiction, the craft.   Continued...