Buzzy Toronto nov­el­ist re­turns

Claire Cameron back with The Last Ne­an­derthal

North York Post - - Arts - by Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

Toronto nov­el­ist Claire Cameron wants peo­ple to un­der­stand that Ne­an­derthals are peo­ple too.

“In 2010, sci­en­tists found out that a lot of peo­ple of Euro­pean and Asian de­scent have be­tween one and four per cent Ne­an­derthal genome,” says Cameron. “I re­al­ized that the science was so dif­fer­ent than the per­cep­tion of Ne­an­derthals in pop­u­lar cul­ture, and I wanted to write a story that helped re­store their rep­u­ta­tion and bring it more in line with the science.”

This led Cameron to her third novel, The Last Ne­an­derthal, set to be pub­lished April 25. Cameron’s most re­cent work tells the story of two women, one a present-day ar­chae­ol­o­gist and the other an an­cient Ne­an­derthal, linked to­gether by the time­less jour­ney of moth­er­hood.

“My kids are a bit older now, and writ­ing the book was my way of ask­ing ques­tions about that process and try­ing to use Ne­an­derthals as a foil or a re­flec­tion to think about moth­er­hood,” she says.

In ad­di­tion to ex­plor­ing themes sur­round­ing moth­er­hood and birthing from two very dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, Cameron says she was hop­ing to change the per­cep­tion of Ne­an­derthals as hairy, prim­i­tive ogres.

Al­though Cameron had been in­ter­ested in writ­ing in her teens and 20s, she had never con­sid­ered the idea of do­ing it as a ca­reer. It wasn’t un­til she turned 30 that she felt the itch to be­gin a new cre­ative ven­ture, and even then, the artist delved into mu­sic first.

“I started play­ing mu­sic, but I was re­ally bad.… I’m kind of a hack, but I re­ally liked the lyrics of one song that I wrote called ‘Paint­ing Lines,’ ” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t play the gui­tar, but I can type,’ so that’s how I started writ­ing.”

Claire Cameron’s lat­est novel hits stores April 25

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