Jane Urquhart writes Sanctuary Line from the back of her head and not even she sees the surprise ending
Sanctuary Line, Jane Urquhart’s latest effort, is the most compelling and clever piece of fiction I’ve encountered in the last year. A love story set around an orchard in Southern Ontario, Urquhart plays with foreshadowing. She had me thinking that this gut-wrenching family tragedy was evolving one way only to pull the proverbial carpet out from under my feet and wallop me with an ending I didn’t see coming.
During an interview with Urquhart, she told Hour that her writing style is unconscious and declared that the closing chapters of the novel startled her as well. "To be honest, it surprised me too. I wasn’t sure where I was headed."
Urquhart said that when she began Sanctuary Line, she had no map or formula. "I begin novels with a number of things that interest me in an acute kind of way. And I was interested in Mexican migrant workers, lighthouses and the war in Afghanistan and I wanted to bring all these elements together. So I developed this character who is sitting alone in a farmhouse that had collapsed as a result of the tragic disappearance of an uncle."
When asked how she managed to weave everything together so fluidly, Urquhart confessed that she is a notoriously patient writer who takes years to complete a novel. "It’s not something one intellectualizes. I let the back of my head work things out and the back of my head has always taken weird roads. The process of writing for me is a lot like reading. I don’t know what’s going to happen until the story reveals itself to me."