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TATA Literature Live! 2015 Q&A with Alanna Mitchell

By Alanna Mitchell

12th October 2015

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian journalist and author, who writes about science and social trends. Her most recent full-length book, Sea Sick:The Global Ocean in Crisis, is an international best seller that won the prestigious US-based Grantham Prize for excellence in environmental journalism.

Literature Live!:  Why the fascination with ocean life?

Alanna Mitchell: Because the ocean contains what scientists call the “switch of life.” What happens to life in the ocean determines what happens to life on land.

LL: As an accomplished journalist, what would you say are the two things a journalist should always keep in mind?

AM: Never underestimate how much people love a cracking good tale. Never be afraid to ask the stupid question.

LL: Where did the idea of turning your book ‘Seasick’ into a play originate from?

AM: From Franco Boni, artistic director of The Theatre Centre in Toronto. He heard me give a talk based on the book and asked me to turn it into a one-woman play. Franco and Ravi Jain – an actor, director and playwright – and I worked on the script together for months before the play premiered in Toronto.

LL:  What’s on the cards for your next book?

AM: My next book is about planetary physics. Go figure!

LL: What are you looking forward to the most from this trip to India?

AM: The reaction of Indians to the ideas in the play. We have talkbacks with the audiences after each performance and it’s been a fascinating glimpse into people’s souls.

Alanna is a freelancer for the New York Times science section, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic Magazine and is a regular contributor to CBC’s Quirks & Quarks, in addition to having a regular column in Canadian Wildlife Magazine.