Zoe Whittall talks The Best Kind of People 

Zoe Whittall talks The Best Kind of People 

The Gryphons Read program ended this week with a visit from the author 

Author and Guelph-Humber MFA graduate Zoe Whittall visited campus this week to meet with classes and give a public talk at War Memorial Hall. Whittall’s latest novel, The Best Kind of People, was the inaugural selection for Gryphons Read, the new first-year student reading program.

During one of her class visits, Whittall read a few pages from her novel, where one of her characters visits a support group for women with incarcerated partners.

It’s this scene that started it all: Whittall had heard a radio broadcast about a support group for women with partners who were convicted of sex crimes or imprisoned, and imagined what the repercussions of deciding to stay with them would be.

The Best Kind of People details the disgrace of a once-affluent family in a small town after the father — a beloved high school teacher — is accused of sexual misconduct.

Speaking about the ending of the book, Whittall said during a Q&A session that “as much as having an aspirational ending would’ve felt better, [she] wanted it to be realistic.”

The Best Kind of People is slated to be adapted for the big screen by Canadian director Sarah Polley in the next few years. We asked Zoe Whittall about being part of Gryphons Read, The Best Kind of People, and what’s next for her.

Karen K. Tran: What’s your reaction to having your book chosen for the Gryphons Read program?

Zoe Whittall: I was really excited. I think it’s a really cool opportunity to meet a lot of new readers and it’s exciting to come and spend time with people who have read the book so closely and carefully.

I think the program’s excellent.

KT: What message do you hope readers take from your novel?

ZW: I don’t necessarily hope they take a message away per se, but I do hope the book provokes conversation around consent and agency and allows people to talk amongst each other about the ways that power works within relationships.

KT: How has your MFA in Creative Writing from Guelph-Humber helped you in your career so far?

ZW: It really helped me to focus on the book that I was writing at the time. My second book [Holding Still for as Long as Possible] was written while I was doing the MFA.

It helped me meet writers and connected me to a wider network of working authors. It was really a great amount of time to focus.

KT: What are your future plans?

ZW: I’m working on a new book, it’s called The Spectacular, and it will be out with HarperCollins in hopefully two years.

Photo by Karen K. Tran.