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Roots led to writing for Alice Munro

Short story author Alice Munro says growing up in rural Ontario grew her confidence during early days of writing, nurturing a gift that earned her worldwide acclim and now a Nobel Prize.

"I don't think I would have been nearly so brave as a writer if I had lived in a town and if I had gone to school with other people who were interested in the same things I was, and what we might call a higher cultural level," the 82-year-old wordsmith said in an interview with the Swedish Academy, which awarded her the Nobel literature honour.

"I didn't have to cope with that. I was the only person I knew who wrote stories, though I didn't tell them to anybody. I was, as far as I knew, the only person who could do this in the world for a while."

Munro was named in October as the 110th Nobel laureate in literature and only the 13th woman to receive the distinction. She's also the first Canadian-based author to land the prize.

Munro said being raised in the tiny southwestern Ontario community of Wingham gave her an accepted way as a young girl to grow the stories she first conjured up during long walks to school.

"I don't know if I needed any inspiration. I just thought that stories were so important in the world and I want to make up some of these stories, and I want to keep on doing this," she said in the pre-recorded chat from her Victoria home.

She said the countryside is just as fertile a place as any for remarkable narratives.

"You just have to be there. I think any life can be interesting. I think any surrounds can be interesting."

Munro said that she at first kept her creations secret, telling no one — not even her mother, a reader.

"The people around me — well most of them didn't know I wanted to be a writer because I made sure they didn't find out. But it would have been to most people ridiculous, because most people I knew didn't read," Munro said.

"I am so grateful for this great honour. Nothing, nothing in the world could make me so happy as this," she said.

The Canadian Press

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