Why Men Lie

Cape Breton-born Linden MacIntyre co-hosts CBC TV’s the fifth estate, and is the author of The Long Stretch, Causeway: A Passage from Innocence, and The Bishop’s Man, which won the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His latest work, Why Men Lie, is the story of a middle-aged woman and a chance encounter with a long-lost friend in a Toronto subway station.

 What inspired you to write Why Men Lie?
I’ve been interested for a long time in writing a novel about the fears and phobias of men in middle age, many of which revolve around the perceived onset of impotence — biological, professional, social. 

Where did the character of Effie come from?
Effie has been in the background of two novels and is, for me, a feminine archetype. I had attempted to craft a novel about “male menopause” around a male character but it didn’t work. The character was so self-absorbed there could be little sympathy from a reader. I thought of trying to explore the subject through the eyes of a middle aged woman and Effie was the natural choice for a point of view and voice.

Was it difficult to write in a female voice?
It was daunting to start, but once established it came naturally, probably from some remote place in human nature where men and women are more or less the same in what they need and want and fear.

What were other challenges of putting the book together?
Learning how to sustain a subjective viewpoint through a voice that is not first-person. And plot development is always a challenge in a story that is essentially about emotion.

What were the rewards?
Finishing, hearing a respected woman author say the voice is “note perfect”.

What did you learn during the process?
In every fiction writing exercise I learn a little more about the craft …the traps and pitfalls that limit story-telling, how to avoid or to escape from them. They’re far too numerous to enumerate.

What has the initial response been like from those that have read it?
I’ve consciously limited the preliminary readership to women and have been gratified by the extent to which they seem to honestly identify with the major women characters and find them credible.

How have you grown as a writer since The Bishop’s Man?
This is a trick question and I wouldn’t dare try to answer it.

What’s next on your creative agenda?
I’m working on another novel, plot driven, new characters. To be continued