Toronto novelist Claire Cameron is back with ‘The Last Neanderthal’


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Claire Cameron’s latest novel hits stores April 25

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

“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 information helped lead Cameron to her third novel, The Last Neanderthal, scheduled 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 throughout 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 had this choirboy voice, and I don’t play the guitar that well. 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.”

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