When Harriet Alida Lye was a little girl, her father, an aeronautical engineer, visited her at camp in a float plane that he landed on the lake. It was so fantastic that the girl standing next to Harriet hugged her gleefully. By this time, Harriet had lost the British accent she’d had as a wee toddler. Soon, she would be a beautiful and self-possessed Juliet in the school play. Soon she would have cancer. Soon she would live in the hospital for months and months, maintaining her poetic good nature in a hinterland between adulthood and death.
When I met Harriet she was deftly running a literary magazine called Her Royal Majesty, the acronym for which also represented Halifax Regional Municipality, the East Coast city where we went to college. She looked like a painting, and wrote a poem so beautiful I based a scene in a movie around it.
More surprising than that she survived the murderous cancer of her teen years, is how little it dissuaded her from living. Or maybe that’s what happens, you’re not afraid to move away to school, or to move to Paris when you graduate, when you know that it’s now or actually never. Harriet lived in Paris for seven years, working a variety of jobs and living at Shakespeare and Co like a bookstore cat. And writing, always writing.
-by Laura Dawe
What ‘hood are you in?
I live in Roncesvalles, and I love it so much. With two dogs and a baby I’ve had lots of reasons to meet the neighbours and build community, and this neighbourhood really feels like a tiny little village in a big city. I love being close to High Park, a great farmer’s market, the lake, and all the amazing local businesses on Roncesvalles. I’ve come to know many of the business owners, and it just feels pretty magical.
What do you do?
I’m a writer. This means I also read a lot; review new books; do freelance editing, branding, and writing projects; spend time with my son; refresh my emails; go for walks; try to stay open to the world.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on promoting my newest book, a memoir called Natural Killer. I recently co-wrote a children’s book about a snail without a shell who learns to accept himself just as he is. I’m in the early stages of a new novel, too, which is based on this incredible Hungarian Jewish physicist who invented so many things, including the nuclear bomb and the modern-day radiation machine, and all he ever wanted was to save the world.
Where can we find your work?
My first novel, The Honey Farm, and my new memoir, Natural Killer, are available wherever books are sold!