Episode 72: Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle has practised corporate law, volunteered for a number of feminist, arts and international development organizations, and served as an associate poetry editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. She is the author of a novella (Tower, 2018), two books of poetry (This White Nest, 2019) and Light-carved Passages, 2014), and several chapbooks. Seeking Shade is her first collection of short fiction. She lives in Ottawa with her partner and a large standard poodle who believes he is a lap dog.


Seeking Shade (Porcupine’s Quill, 2020)

Tower (Fish Gotta Swim, 2018)

Spotify Playlist of songs from Seeking Shade and music inspired by the book

when reading the book I noticed all the music and so decided to make a playlist which includes the music referred to directly and I have also included songs/compositions where there’s no direct reference, just a band name or a song has been described. I’ve tried also to include some of the music from films mentioned in the book as well.

I put the playlist on shuffle in order to determine what we would talk about. I’ve also included a link to the YouTube video for each song.

1. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell, 2003

Cold Air Return

We discuss women’s friendships and I ask Frances about the friendships she’s developed through writing, writing groups, retreats and residencies and through social media.

2. Moonchild, King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969


We discuss how the story portrays racism in Saskatchewan in the 70s, the issues of being a white woman and settler writing about race.

Musing in the Margins, Essays on Craft, edited by Audrey T. Caroll (Human/Kind Press, 2020) Musing the Margins examines the influence of culture and identity on the craft of fiction.

3. Body and Soul – Coleman Hawkins, recorded in 1939

Dance Me

We discuss Frances’ relationship to music. We also talk about the editing of the book. We discuss the research for this story and Rest Cure, and balancing research and writing.

LET’S DANCE: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions

To Dance at the Palais Royale by Janet McNaughton

4. As Time Goes By, Dooley Wilson, Casablanca album 1942


We discuss the differences between romance and reality in the story, and in life.

5. Let it go, Idina Menzel, who performed it in the film. Frozen, as Queen Ilsa

Long-Term Lease

We talk about the multiple points of view in the story.

6. Fire, Mychael Danna from the soundtrack for the Adjuster, a 1991 film directed by Atom Egoyan


We discuss writing the senses and using free writing exercises to help awareness of the senses.

Sarah Selecky’s Daily Prompt exercises.

I mention doing free writing in the voice of a character. I ask Frances about writing a novel.

7. Love Minus Zero, No Limit, Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, 1965

A Beach in Corfu

We talk about writing about young people and suicide attempts, the romanticization of suicide. We discuss the lifting up of the male genius in society.

8. Crystal, Stevie Nicks, (Fleetwood Mack, 1975 has Lindsey Buckingham as lead vocalist;] on the Soundtrack from Practical Magic (1998)


We discuss the imagery Frances uses for pain. We talk about dream journals and images from dreams. I ask Frances about writing about pain and struggles, and we discuss other women’s writing on pain. Frances mentions fairy tales

Against Death: 35 Essays On Living (Anvil Press, 2019)

In-Between Days by Teva Harrison

Threading the Light: Explorations in Loss and Poetry by Lorri Neilsen Glenn

13 Books About Women’s Pain by Abby Norman

We also discuss writing that includes women working, and wonder about fiction that includes white collar jobs. For blue collar work, Frances thought of Alice Munro’s stories. Souvankham Thammavongsa‘s How To Pronounce Knife.

We talk about how Frances balanced work, both as a lawyer and volunteer, writing and motherhood.

9. A Case of You, Joni Mitchell from Blue (1971)

Running Through Green

We talk about the use of the second person and the male voice in the story. I ask Frances about the use of the colour green in the story for anxiety and we discuss synaesthesia.

Forthcoming Readings – a plan to read with Daniel Lockhart for a joint launch in January.

Simon Fraser University Lunch Poems in February

Lit Live in October in Hamilton or virtually

Seeking Shade is a collection of compassionate stories that gives readers a close-up view of characters–primarily women– and their struggles, frustrations, relationships, friendships, families and health. I was especially drawn to the portraits of young women: Eileen, the young Prairie poet and student struggling to pay for school and remain in Toronto, in Running Through Green, as seen through the eyes of a male narrator who is in love with her, Estie in WWII era Dance Me and her wish not to be tied down in a marriage while she enjoys dancing with dashing fly boys and soldiers before the go off to war, Liz in A Beach in Corfu, that thirst for romance so close to the surface, and the vulnerability it causes; Helen in Claims who has to navigate the casual racism of work-mates. Also potent are the stories of Judith, a mother with young children, trying to escape an abusive husband in the title story, “Seeking Shade;” Val,  who escapes her boring marriage through the romanticization of her affair; the woman waiting for a diagnosis of her stomach pain in Shards, the stories within stories in Fairy Tales for Survivors of Hafnia of Bosnia escaping violence in Bosnia only to be faced with Canada’s discrimination, and Cécile, whose niece has been sent to live with her after her parents were killed in the earthquake in Haiti. I think many women will recognize themselves in these stories.  

Thanks to Frances Boyle for being on the show, to Charles for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the theme song, and to all of you for listening and sharing the episode. Thanks to all our guests in 2020: Justin Million, Dani Spinosa, Sachiko Murakami, James Lindsay, Richard Capener, Gary Barwin, Klara Du Plessis, Dennis Cooley, Sacha Archer, Pearl Pirie and Frances Boyle. Stay tuned for a special episode on the poetic elements of music at the end of the month, featuring amazing musician Subhraj Singh. and in the new year, Connor McDonnell, Jennifer K. Dick, Rasiqra Revulva, Dominik Parisien and Jennifer Mulligan for starters. Here’s to a safe, calm and joyous 2021, and hope that we’ll be gathering together again in person.