Q&A with Rae Spoon

Rae Spoon is the author of Green Glass Ghosts, published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

What inspired you to write Green Glass Ghosts?

I wrote my first book First Spring Grass Fire in 2012. The book was published as fiction, but I shared many experiences with the main character. Green Glass Ghosts picks ups the timeline where the first book left off. I was inspired to continue telling my story by creating a representation some of the next years of my life.

How does the book’s title tie into the overall story?

The main character feels the pressure of gentrification and refers to condo buildings as green glass ghosts. The unstable nature of young adulthood was tied to the transforming backdrop of Vancouver’s skyline. These some main themes in the book.

What made you decide to set the novel in Vancouver?

Vancouver was where I experience much of my young adulthood. I have that in common with illustrator, Gem Hall. It was a great setting because we both spent so much time there and the memories are so vivid. We knew right away what settings looked like and that connection made working together feel unforced.

Green Glass Ghosts explores topics such as mental health, substance abuse and religious extremism. How much of this story is based on your experiences and/or people that you have met?

I grew up in a Pentecostal household and had a very unsafe childhood. This lead to mental health issues and substance use as a means of survival. My young adult years were spent figuring out how to exist in more healthy ways. The book allowed me to explore these experiences through the flexibility of fiction.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

My hope is that by being out about sharing experiences with my main character, I create space for other people with similar challenges. They had to figure out how to be an adult without their blood family. I wrote about the idea of being able to start over again, aiming to create more space in the world and less shame about methods that people use to survive.

What is the significance of the illustrations in Green Glass Ghosts? Did you always plan on including a visual element to the storytelling?

The book began when Gem Hall and I had a meeting discussing how we wanted to make a project together. I’ve always admired their visual art. From the beginning, we checked in with each other to make sure the text and images were cohesive.

What is it like to switch between writing novels and writing music?

Green Glass Ghosts is my first novel. My process is very different between writing prose and songs. I find that writing without music takes a lot more discipline. Sitting with a blank page feels more difficult than picking up a guitar.  I compare writing a novel to recording an album. Writing a book requires several different drafts to refine it to the final product. Recording an album is similar because the final sound is polished through mixing and mastering. They take a similar amount of time to create.