Maggie MacDonald refuses to limit her art to a single medium. The 28-year-old University College grad is probably best known around Toronto as a keyboard player and backing vocalist for the band The Hidden Cameras, but she’s currently working on a second novel and finishing up a year as Hart House writer-in-residence.
Her first book – Kill the Robot, published in 2005 – has a U of T connection; she workshopped it in a creative-writing class. At University College’s afternoon teas, she met people who had already published books. “Writing stories and being published was more accessible than I’d realized,” she says. “The message with writing and creative pursuits is always, ‘It’s so hard.’ This made me realize,‘Wow, you can do these things.’”
MacDonald’s can-do outlook infuses her musical pursuits, too. She joined The Hidden Cameras in 2001 – and only afterward learned to play keyboards. She was later involved in two other fiercely independent bands – Republic of Safety and Barcelona Pavilion – and created the rock opera The Rat King, which will be remounted at New York’s fringe festival in August. MacDonald’s new novel is very loosely inspired by her band tours, which conveniently brings two of her passions together. “You could say I’m a writer-slash-adventurer.”