Episode 525 | Sarah Selecky Interview

Today’s author interview guest is Sarah Selecky, author of the new book Radiant Shimmering Light. I had such a great time talking with Sarah about her creative journey, her new book, the power and pitfalls of social media, and much more.

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A nuanced satire–both hilarious and disconcerting–that probes the blurred lines between empowerment, spirituality, and consumerism in our online lives.

Lilian Quick is 40, single, and childless, working as a pet portrait artist. She paints the colored light only she can see, but animal aura portraits are a niche market at best. She’s working hard to build her brand on social media and struggling to pay the rent.

Her estranged cousin has become internet-famous as “Eleven” Novak, the face of a massive feminine lifestyle empowerment brand, and when Eleven comes to town on tour, the two women reconnect. Despite twenty years of unexplained silence, Eleven offers Lilian a place at The Temple, her Manhattan office. Lilian accepts, moves to New York, and quickly enrolls in The Ascendency, Eleven’s signature program: an expensive, three-month training seminar on leadership, spiritual awakening, and marketing. Eleven is going to help her cousin become her best self: confident, affluent, and self-actualized.

In just three months, Lilian’s life changes drastically: She learns how to break her negative thought patterns, achieves financial solvency, grows an active and engaged online following, and builds authentic friendships. She finally feels seen for who she really is. Success! . . . But can Lilian trust everything Eleven says? This compelling, heartfelt satire asks us: How do we recognize authenticity when storytelling and magic have been co-opted by marketing?

Sarah Selecky’s debut story collection, This Cake Is for the Party, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. She is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Anthology. She is also the creator of internationally-acclaimed creative writing school (and MFA alternative) Sarah Selecky Writing School, which includes collaborations with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Karen Joy Fowler, and other authors. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario with her husband.

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