Meet Jann Arden, best-selling author

The prolific singer-songwriter talks music and chats up her latest collection of personal journals

Supplied photo
Jann Arden is not only one of Canada's most beloved pop stars, but is also a best-selling author. Supplied photo

Normally, Jann Arden is a great interview. She’s chatty, surprising and always funny. But today, she can’t help but feel a little uneasy.

The Calgary-based singer-songwriter is in Toronto for a few days to promote her new book — which we’ll get to later &mdash and has just returned to her hotel room to do this interview. So far, so good. Then, the hotel’s fire alarms start to blare.

"Maybe I should put on my housecoat and some slippers and wait outside the lobby," Arden says over the phone.

Arden guesses that the alarms are only being tested, but can’t be sure.

As she explains this, she sounds like she’s trying to remember the exit route posted on the back of her hotel room door.

“This could be my last interview,” she jokes. “Tell my family I loved them!”

In the end, there was no need. We’re happy to report that she survived the interview.

By now, every Canadian knows who Jann Arden is. After seven albums, Arden has established herself as a major homegrown talent, a radio mainstay known for her heartbreaking pop-rock hits.

She’s recently added the title of best-selling author to her list of accomplishments. Over the past few years, Arden has been publishing her personal journal entries on her website, JannArden.com. They’ve become such a successful feature that Canadian publisher Insomniac Press collected them for a book.

The first collection, If I Knew, Don’t You Think I’d Tell You?, sold 50,000 copies, spawning a sequel I’ll Tell You One Thing, and That’s All I Know which was released this September. In between fire alarms, we asked Arden about her journals, her music and other non-particulars.

How long have you been journal writing?

Jann Arden I’ve been journal writing ever since I was eight or nine years old. They’re all in crates somewhere. I think in my will I should put that upon my death they should all be destroyed.

They’re that embarrassing?

It’s like watching yourself in an old wedding video... But no, they’re not that bad. Some entries are insightful, others meandering. Still, journal writing is mostly done for the self.

Once you know they’re going to be observed, doesn’t that mean you’re going to censor some thoughts?

When I was approached to do the journals for my website, I thought, ‘Fuck, who’d want to read that?’ But I didn’t have any reservations [about my journals being published], I said, “Sure, I don’t care. Can I swear?” I haven’t had to censor myself yet.

Then where’s the celebrity dish and gossip?

Like everyone else, I think mean things. In my life, I’m fortunate to be privy to meeting celebrities. Some can be arseholes and others are OK. I could write this and that about them, but it’s not helping me, it’s not positive. That’s one thing I don’t write about on my site. That’s the one thing I do censor. Your journals are very personal and reflective.

Do you worry about being too confessional? How much is too much?

Some people would love to know about my sex life. I think that’s voyeuristic, behind the keyhole stuff. I don’t want to know, let alone tell anyone else! I think talking about my day-to-day relationships would be boring anyway. Who cares? My music is enough of a glimpse into that.

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Robert J. Ballantyne is Artsculture‘s Creative Director. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star and other media outlets. In addition to leading the Artsculture Collective, he built and designed Artsculture‘s website. He is available for freelance web development and graphic design at Artsculture Creative.

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