Rowers Online: An author Q&A

Rowers Online is a web feature where we ask six questions of our upcoming readers and they answer however many they like. It’s a way to learn a bit more about them and their writing. And, if they choose, a shortcut to knowing what drink to buy them at the bar.

 


Trevor Cole

TREVOR COLE

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

The Whisky King is a historic narrative that follows the rise of two men: Rocco Perri, once English Canada’s most famous and powerful bootlegger/mob figure, and Frank Zaneth, Canada’s first undercover Mountie. It’s a Jazz-Age story full of guns, booze, mob hits, official corruption and even a tragic romance or two.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

You have to read! Read everything. Read to find out what you admire, what stories intrigue you and what sentences thrill you. Read the masters to find out how it’s done. Read so much that it gets into your bones and becomes part of you. Any writer who doesn’t read is a writer doomed never to be read.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

EI’ll take a well-aged Kentucky bourbon on the rocks. Failing that, a shot of good tequila always hits the spot.


Elise LevineELISE LEVINE

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

My novel Blue Field is about: risk addicts and obsessive love and grief. There’s some sex in there too.

 If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?


My Superhero power: to always have part of my brain sitting at a little table with pen and notebook (old school!) at five a.m. in a cheap motel room just off the highway, out the window fog rolling off an ancient mountain. Plus the miracle of a decent cup of coffee keeping me company.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

I confess: I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinks. An ale or glass of white wine (for some reason, red makes me ill) is about it for me.


Steven Mayoff

STEVEN MAYOFF

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

My novel, Our Lady of Steerage is a non-linear, multi-generational story about the friendship between two women, Mariasse and Dora, that takes place in Montreal. Their relationship is defined by recurring cycles of rescue and betrayal as they move in and out of each others lives over a 40-year period (1923-1962).

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Not everyone can have a writing career, but anyone can cultivate a writing life. No one can take that away from you.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

I don’t drink alcohol and I’ve been cutting out sugar, so no soft drinks or juices. If anyone wants to buy me a drink, an Americano coffee or some green tea would be most appreciated.


spenstKEVIN SPENST

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

I love poetry for its plasticity, its ability to fill forms traditional and new and occasions joyous and somber. I have two full-length books that explore faith, familial relationships and mental health, and I have over a dozen chapbooks that respond to visual art, Finnegan’s Wake and the similarities between environmental disasters and heavy metal lyrics.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

I’m a morning writer. When the writing life is good, I get up at four and I write for a couple hours before I have to head off to work. When times are harried, I write on my iPhone while stopped at a light on my way to work. When times are extra intense, I’ll write after work. When I’m on a book tour (now), I write poems about clouds etc on airplane sickness bags that I fold into chapbooks.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read as deeply and widely as possible.


Adrienne Gruber

ADRIENNE GRUBER

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

Any time of day when my kids aren’t hanging off of me and wiping their sticky little paws on my pants. But ideally, from around 9am-3pm, when I’m the most awake. You know, the time that is never available to me!

 If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

These days it would be to have boundless energy to do all the things I want to do after my kids are in bed. Coffee is almost powerful enough to make this happen, but even its magic has limitations.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Ignore unsolicited advice! But also, don’t worry about what other writers are writing about. Embrace the content that you’re drawn to writing. Your audience will find you.

Elana WolffELANA WOLFF

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less?

The poems in Everything Reminds You of Something Else riff on the porousness of states and relations, the connective compulsions of poetic association, and the detonations waiting in everyday love, in language that frequently speaks to primary irony.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

It would have to be the TaNaCH — Torah, Prophets, and Writings — aka the Bible, in Hebrew. But since I’m greedy I’ll also have the collected works of Franz Kafka and W G Sebald in bilingual editions. Poetry is in them.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
 
I can write any time of day or night. Best is when it’s coming through.


Jacob ScheierJACOB SCHEIER

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

If I could own only one book, I’d say Stranger Music (the selected Leonard Cohen book), which was the one book I carried around with me when I backpacked around Egypt 15 years ago and still have the very well worn copy of.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?


The best part of my day for writing is first thing in the morning… I feel my creativity leaks away as the anxieties of the day build up. But I feel like I still have a foot in my unconscious if I write as soon as I get up (or rather as soon as I finish making coffee).

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?


My favourite drink, since I’m not buying (apparently) is any single malt scotch, neat. preferably a 12-year Macallan, not to be too specific about it, but I would gladly drink a Jameson on the rocks.


Pamela MordecaiPAMELA MORDECAI

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

My writing in prose and poetry explores voices, in particular those that criss-cross the range of Jamaican vernacular speech, as the ground of character and so the basis for story.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

The Bible, because it’s a compendium of bewildering history, amazing stories, and poetry of great beauty.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read as much as you can, aloud when you can, and talk about what you read with other devoted readers.


Molly PeacockMOLLY PEACOCK

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.


The Analyst is a series of linked poems about a patient-therapist relationship that drastically changes when the analyst suffers a stroke but survives to become a painter.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?


The Norton Anthology of World Poetry.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?


Morning—first thing, no breakfast, tea only, bathrobe and cat.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?


I’d like to have a Psyche Superpower! It would be the power to make people in power want to examine their lives, to remember their own feelings in times of crisis, and act in empathy with the situations of others.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?


Schedule it. Just like a doctor’s appointment. And treat it like a doctor’s appointment. You have to go. You can’t have lunch with your friend. You have to hire childcare to do it. Then enter that designated square on your calendar as if it were a meadow, just waiting for you.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?


A hot toddy, whiskey on the side. It’s really the hot water, honey and lemon I’m after!


Jeff CottrillJEFF COTTRILL

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Always write what you would want to read if you were the audience.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

Any cider that isn’t Strongbow.


Jasmine D'CostaJASMINE D’COSTA

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

The core of my work deals with racism, the other, and moral ethical questions without being didactic but through the characters in my stories. I am a storyteller that uses various devices to animate my characters without using one voice.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

4.00 am- 10 am. That way I put in 5 hours of work and then I can live and experience the rest of the day.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Always remember that your work is more important than you.


carolegCAROLE GIANGRANDE

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

In retreat from a failing marriage, Valerie’s come from Toronto to hike the remote French island of St. Pierre, only to walk right into the horror of 9/11; her son and his partner are missing in New York City. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air unfolds in the flow of Valerie’s thoughts, memories and ordinary life, far from her loved ones on the terrrain of a strange new world.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse. I love this book and I’ve read it many times, but as for the one-book rule, I’d probably cheat and load a pile of texts on my e-reader (since I don’t define them as “books,” just a lot of pixels strung together).

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read everything! Write every day, even for a half-hour. And keep submitting your work. That one publisher’s “yes” will clear away the sting of a hundred rejections.


biancalBIANCA LAKOSELJAC

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

My new novel, Stone Woman, chronicles the lives of five women whose fates are bound by a Vietnam War draft dodger from the hippie subculture of Toronto. This is a story of passion, of art, of the legacy of loyalty and choices made. It is about social change and self-realization in the midst of one of the headiest periods in Toronto history.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

It would be the power to acquire the knowledge and wisdom of the ages, so I could write the Novel Impossible—the one everyone in the world would wish to read.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Write because you love it!—all of it—the fear of the blank page, the challenge of the first draft, the agony of the rewrite, and another, and yet another. Write because you love it—even when your fickle muse knocks on your head at 3am and ushers your grumpiness to the laptop and you hate her for it. But soon the words are flowing, and the more they flow the more you love her and thank her for tormenting you at this ungodly hour. Write for the love of it and you won’t be disappointed. Write for the money and you will.


caseyCASEY PLETT

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. I never get tired of reading that book, I really don’t.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

On the business side: Don’t be afraid to ask how much you’re getting paid and when you’ll get the money, before you agree to do something. Even if you’re okay with doing it for free and that’s just where you are in your career: Ask. Get good at it. It will serve you in good stead all through a career.

More murkily: I don’t know if this is helpful to others, but…to me writing is being alone, in a room, with my thoughts, speaking to someone else, alone, in a room, who’ll eventually read them. Me, in a room, speaking to a stranger, alone, in a room. Everything else is vehicles and numbers.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

Rye and diet Coke in a tall glass. Or a whiskey sour.


melaniemMELANIE MAH

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.


The Sweetest One is about the Wong family, denizens of a small, redneck town in Alberta who have endured immense tragedy. Specifically, the book is about Chrysler Wong, a very anxious, potentially cursed girl who wants to find love and live in a city, even though these are also the things she’s most afraid of.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

Afternoons and evenings.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?


The prospects are all either very scary or very weird, but the elasticity of Mister Fantastic could come in handy for slingshotting myself around the world or doing various chores while also lying on the couch.


lanapeschLANA PESCH

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.


When Marie Ross finds herself unemployed and newly separated, her life takes an unexpected turn when she moves back to her hometown on the prairies. Dysfunctional family antics, small town politics, and dated religious traditions are the driving forces behind Blunt, a story about impermanence, and the place we call home.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?


Morning. Pre-brain clutter.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?


A nice hoppy craft brew. Whatever is on tap similar to Left Field or Flying Monkeys.


David ClinkDAVID CLINK

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

The Role of Lightning in Evolution is a collection of speculative poetry. Suzette Haden Elgin defined the genre as “about a reality that is in some way different from the existing reality.” A speculative poem usually has one or more of the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, steampunk, alternative history, surrealism, science, the fantastic, and the mythological.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

To see through dark liquids.

So I can see through to the back of a coke label to see if it is a prize winner. But they don’t do that anymore, do they? So strike that. Put me down for flying. I can do that in my dreams, so why not in real life?

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?




The 7 “R”s: Take the original three “R”s:

READING; WRITING; and, ARITHMETIC; and add:

ORIGAMI; RECALCITRANCE; ORIGINALITY; and, REVIEWING.


vanessashieldsVANESSA SHIELDS

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?



Wow. No one’s ever asked me this question. What a tough question!! A book of poetry – collected works of love poems – including Shakespeare, Neruda, Rumi, Gibran….Gah. I don’t know. I would cry if I could only ever own one book.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?



I think it’s from 10am to 2pm, but my ‘time for writing’ has been so inconsistent in the last little bit that I can’t really say! I usually get a surge of energy around 5, right when I have to do everything but write (cook dinner, help kids with homework, tidy house – domestic bliss, right?). If I’m heading toward a deadline, I can write anywhere, anytime. I’ve gotten pretty good at disciplining myself, so as long as I do that, I can write anytime.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?



Ha! My son asks me this all the time. I’d like to be able to breathe under water. I think I was a humpback whale in a past life. I love the water. I love swimming. It would be incredible to be able to breathe underwater…maybe I could talk with the ocean, the fish – and I could be their voice and help save the planet. Kinda.


hoaHOA NGUYEN

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

From my painter friend Philip Trussell who wrote of my work, “The individual words are luminous with ‘cellness,’ seeming each to know the others, and having a way of being the whole while holding to their own grasp of place. Syntactically alarming and alerting to fresh perception, these poems set thought to new leaps, brightly.”

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

I tend to read directly after reading/hearing poems read for an hour aloud and in response to writing strategies drawn from the work and of my own invention during a private poetics workshop that I lead in cyberspace / my home. Which means, typically, on Sundays at 5 PM –but also whenever I can get at my notebook.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read deeply and widely. Perform some form of service to boost the poetry community such as writing reviews, interviewing, curating a reading series, editing a magazine, publishing books, and textual scholarship. Persist and make things happen.


jakeJACOB MCARTHUR MOONEY

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

It’s a book about the future that posits 2016 will be a millennial moment in time, complete with the death of idols and the rising of fools to power. I apologize for being right about everything.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

It would either be the full 2010 Encyclopedia Britannica or my wife’s novel.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

I’d like to be good at Twitter.


adebeADEBE DERANGO-ADEM

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

After the moment in time where one would be writing “the aubade.”

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

It’s not how you sell the ship, it’s how you sail one. Paraphrased from the beauteous mind of Ursula LeGuin.


charlenechallengerCHARLENE CHALLENGER

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

I write fairy tales.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

The morning is best for me (there’s just something about daylight that’s so beautiful), though it’s rare that I’m able to write in the morning. I do most of my writing at night.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

I’d love to have super strength, that way I can stand up to bullies.


robertcolman
ROB COLMAN

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Best piece of advice for aspiring writers is twofold – read a lot, more than you write, and find a supportive community in which to work – there are so very many of them, especially in Toronto.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

If I could only own one book, it would have to be the Oxford English Dictionary (which is cheating, because it’s two volumes).

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

My drink of choice is a gin & tonic.


francesboyleFRANCES BOYLE

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

My book is a collection of poems, mostly lyric or narrative, that explore shadows and absences via family history and imagined stories, traveling highways and paths along rivers. In both Light-carved Passages and my newer work I go into some dark places and speak in a variety of voices, but I’m always feeling around for the light switch on the wall or looking for a glimmer of light in the far distance.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on. Read things you love, and try to figure out why. Read things you hate, and try to figure out why. Imitate freely, and own your influences. Do lots of practice writing and don’t worry about making it good at first, just get down the impulse, the spark, the energy. Surprise yourself.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

I’d love to have the ability to split into multiple me’s: a team to get all the day-to-day necessaries accomplished; one to craft poetry, another to write fiction, and at least one who could just go for long walks and stare into space for hours. And of course I’d also need the ability to bring all that experience back together into a single me.


dickinsonclourMARY LOU DICKINSON

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

Latest is about impact on individuals in families and families of the omissions people leave in what they tell each other and the secrets they keep from each other.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?  

Morning.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Get started. Sit/stand at your desk and write. When you have enough writing to share, find a writing group and participate. Sharing lessens isolation and critique can help you improve your work.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

Cheap date…non alcoholic. Often water. But as for food, the banana rolls with ice cream and chocolate at Rowers are outstanding.


shane-joseph

SHANE JOSEPH

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
A novel about corporate greed, political corruption and second chances in love, set in Vancouver Island and Toronto during the robocalls scandal.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t aim for fame, aim for writing the best piece you can, one sentence at a time. Fame may follow.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar?
Scotch and soda. And I’ll accept generous offers to buy me a drink.


stan-rogalSTAN ROGAL

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
Rogal’s compelling novel offers a new look at the traditional Canadian tale of a city boy in the “wilderness,” taking aim at our literary mythology with sharp, satirical darts.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
I prefer writing in the morning, though I tend to write longer, later, as I near the end of a piece.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar?
Red wine is my preferred poison, though I’ve been known to enjoy a shot of bourbon if we’re celebrating.


cherie-dCHERIE DIMALINE

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
At night. Which makes me a zombie at my 9-5, but that’s how it goes. I tried to move my hours to daylight but the work came out sounding like a manual to upgrade to Windows 10.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read! Read diversely and across eras and genres. Slow read the work you most admire and strive to be in league with, but read it all.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
Well, I would be dead, but if I really had to choose it would be a volume of collected works by either Charles Bukowski or TS Eliot. That way, every time I read it, I would find something new or feel something different dependent on the day.


christopher-canniffCHRISTOPHER CANNIFF

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
About Poor Man’s Galapagos (my latest novel): Tómas Harvey, an irrigation engineering student on a small, impoverished island in Ecuador, is conscripted into military service in the border war with Peru as his father, a renowned British travel writer, disappears. Certain he will die a senseless death, fighting his enlistment and searching for answers, Tómas embarks on a journey of discovery that may lead him closer to his father and to his biological mother who abandoned him at birth, and away from his home for the first time in his life…

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
That’s easy, the Bible.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read and write, every day. Become part of a writing community. Don’t think about your failures, and focus on your successes as a writer. And as the President of the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch, I encourage everyone to join and to become involved!


m-kiddMONICA KIDD

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
Definitely in the morning. Preferably with a box of dry cereal and a bottomless cup of coffee.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
To be able to stop time, roll it backwards and forwards like a tape reel. Remember tape reels? There are things I would change. And things I would relive. And wouldn’t it be nice to stop fretting about what the future holds?

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
Lately it’s been Uncle Val’s Botanical gin. I’ve always been a beer girl, but lately I’m on the G&T. Not sure what this says about


susanmccaslinSUSAN MCCASLIN

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
My new volume of poetry, Painter, Poet, Mountain: After Cezanne (Quattro, 2016), re-enacts a journey to Aix-en-Provence in 2013 where I found myself in a “heart-soul-mind-clench” with the post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. The book traces how the artist from Aix-en-Provence accompanied her home to the Fraser Valley outside Fort Langley, British Columbia where she gazed through his eyes to see afresh the trees and landscapes near her home.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
The Complete Words of William Shakespeare

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
After 10 pm.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
Flight, because I’d like to be momentarily a bird, particularly an eagle.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read, read, and read, not just email notes and blogs, but old, new. Then reread.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
A glass of Vendemmia from Italy.


sabrinarSABRINA RAMNANAN

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
Four years ago I might have said: In the early morning when the house is quiet and sunshine is streaming in through my office window. Now my answer is: When the kids are both sleeping and, miraculously, I am still awake.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Write what moves you. Write what makes you laugh. Write the story you want to read. Write for yourself.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
Double rum and coke.


Dietrich KalteisDIETRICH KALTEIS

Describe your new book in two sentences or less.
 Edgy crime fiction with a touch of dark humour.
What part of the day is your best time for writing?
 For me, early in the morning is the best time to write. I start at about 5:00 and go until noon.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?Write as often as you can, and when you’re not writing, read what inspires you to write.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
 Beer. Like my fiction, I like it dark.
Jess Taylor

Author photo credit Angela Lewis

JESS TAYLOR

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?

Right now: Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behaviour. But normally, it’s J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

To heal myself and others, emotionally and physically. I wish everyone I loved could have no pain. But being able to teleport would also be super cool! I hate transit, I hate how many people talk to me/bump me/touch my arm on transit and wish I could be somewhere instantly.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Stick to a schedule and also be careful with your finances haha.

Also, stay honest and look into your fear. Don’t worry about people liking your work NOW. Think about the kind of work you think needs to be in the world, that is true to lived experience, and write that.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?

Cranberry and soda or a coffee with milk!


Dan PerryDANIEL PERRY

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.

Hamburger is a collection of 23 stories–some flash and some longer–set in Toronto but also in Nicaragua, Philadelphia, Venice, Montreal and more. My publisher says: The pieces include dark satirical perspectives and situational ironies, and although they frequently carry images of struggle, fatigue, and loss, they move the people who populate them into decisions that offer tense moments of hope and beauty.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?

I love a weekend morning, especially for a first draft. Sometimes I go running first, sometimes I don’t, but either way I like to get in front of my computer fairly early and see whether I can fall into a nice, long trance; I’ve lost entire Saturdays because I’ve needed to get to the end of a story! (I may revise this preference once I start focusing seriously on my first novel…)

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Get hungry. Read more, write more, revise more, submit more. Go to more literary events. Meet more of your peers. No one will bang down your front door just to see if you’ve been hiding some great writing in your house; like it or not, you’ve got to hustle. Once your work’s out there, promote it: make a website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, even if these are all for just 50 people for now. Find your audience. Everything big was small first.


Kevin HardcastleKEVIN HARDCASTLE

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
It’s a book about people who fight and endure, faced with violence from other people and from the natural world, and under pressure to stay afloat despite long odds. However hard, somehow those stories tend to really be about hope and the bonds of family, and not about the naked ugliness of the things that the characters fight against.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
I thought this would be harder to answer, but, right away, I thought of the Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia Edition, or The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod. The first one is kind of cheating, as it is all of Hemingway’s stories, but it has about every lesson I ever took in about how to write a line. I’ve always mentioned Lost Salt Gift of Blood as my favourite writing by any Canadian, and some of the finest short stories ever written. There is more weight in that slim volume of pages than most writers could ever hope to have in a life’s work.

And I guess this is a case where the range and depth of a good short story collection makes that much more sense to have with you if that is the only thing you can have.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
I tend to write in the afternoon, but I can churn out some decent work at night, if I get down to it. I am against mornings for the most part, and it’s highly unlikely I’ll work then, but if I can get my ass in the chair at any other time, I can usually accomplish something of worth.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
The best superhero power, hands down, is the Zack Morris Time-out (from the teen TV epic, Saved by the BellI). There is no greater power in the Marvel-verse, DC-verse, or universe than freezing everyone around you by calling time, having the whole world at your mercy, and then being able to break the fourth wall to, well, I’m not sure who (but I’m sure it is very mystical). Superman has nothing on the Zack Morris Time-out.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Get tough. Pay real attention to what matters. Don’t quit.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
I tend to drink bottles of a rare and delicious craft beer called Budweiser. If a bar is too lowly for that, I’ll drink a rye and diet-coke or ten.


Maire T. RobinsonMAIRE T. ROBINSON

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
Skin, Paper, Stone is a novel about a Medieval historian and an aspiring tattoo artist who unexpectedly find love in post-boom Galway City. But both must face up to their troubled pasts and overcome increasing present obstacles in order to create a future together.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
First thing in the morning before the sneaky demons of self-doubt and procrastination have had a chance to wake up. The trick is to tiptoe past them and settle down at your desk with an obscenely large cup of coffee.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read voraciously, trust your instincts, and follow your own unique passions. Always write what is interesting to you first and foremost. Don’t try to pre-empt what will be marketable or write something you’re wishy-washy about. This is especially important when you’re working on a novel because you’ll be spending at least a year of your life on it, if not more. So, for the sake of your own engagement and possibly even your very sanity, it’s best to pursue something you believe in and can commit wholeheartedly to.


Larissa LaiLARISSA LAI

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
Knife wielding lady litter mates repopulate the world.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
Pu Song Ling’s Strange Tales of Liaozhai, Hong Kong Commercial Press edition

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
In the morning, when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. A death stare that shuts up the mansplainers would be a good one, especially the ones that keep telling me how young/small/emerging/junior I am, but so would killer focus to shut out the petty call of bureaucracy when I’ve got writing to do, and then on the other hand jolly green genius to stop capitalism and make everyone share stuff fairly without it would also be pretty great.


Tasneem JamalTASNEEM JAMAL

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
Lately, I’m finding that I am most productive very late at night (between midnight and 4 a.m.). The silence of everything feels like a cocoon. My husband and children are fast asleep and no one is calling me or texting me or emailing me. Or if they are I am perfectly content ignoring them. I try to steal a nap during the day to help make up for the lack of sleep. (Though I can never fully make it up.)

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
I don’t know if any existing Superhero possesses this power, but I would choose to need only two hours of sleep a night. (See above.)

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Be honest in your writing. You can feel it in your gut when you are bullshitting. Avoid that feeling.


Priscila UppalPRISCILA UPPAL

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
Cover Before Striking is a collection of 13 stories each about people pushing the limits, testing their way of interacting with the world, literally and metaphorically playing with fire.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
Don Quixote.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
Any time before dinner. I used to write extremely well at night and then I graduated from school and had to be up before noon.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is too much in the world to write about. The problem is choosing. So choose what is most important to you.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
My absolute favourite drink is a Kir Royale, but if the bar doesn’t make those I will take any full-bodied dry red wine.


Lisa de NikolitsLISA DE NIKOLITS

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
My books are allergic to categorization which makes it very hard for me to describe them. I like my books to offer the unexpected and I like to challenge and entertain readers.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
The Norton Anthology of Poetry.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
When the demon muse wants to have her way with me, I have no choice but to surrender, regardless of time or circumstance.  If I don’t have time right at that moment, I make notes, on receipts or my forearm, or napkins. The trick is to write it all down as soon as you can. I find that if I don’t write it down, I have a refrain in my head which I am sure is akin to OCD, so really I have to write or the voices won’t shut up.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read a bunch of books about writing. Then throw them away, and get to it and don’t stop. Ever.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
I doubt the bar will have my favourite drink! It’s a  Dutch liqueur called Advocaat.
It’s the colour of neon sunshine, it kicks like a mule, tastes as sweet as sin and pours as thick as mud!


LORI CAYER

Lori CayerDescribe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
My work in the early days was something reflexive, it would happen, then I would attend to the results. Now it is an internal address I can count on being there, where I can go and simply continue where I left off.

What part of the day is your best time for writing?
Morning. There is clarity and psychic space available before all the sensory input of a day starts to fill the head.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Think of your lines and/or stanzas as so many leggo blocks: boldly rearrange them and see what happens.

What’s your favourite drink at the bar (so people can buy it for you after)?
I have a mad new menopausal love affair with gin and tonic.


Max LaytonMAX LAYTON

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
I write poetry for people who hate poetry. Funny, whimsical, relevant, touching AND non-academic, my poems are meant to be enjoyed…

If you could have one Superhero power, what would it be and why?
Invisibility: There are so many conversations I’d like to overhear and so many terrorists I’d like to scare the crap out of!

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
KISS: Keep It Simple — and Short!


Lenore KeeshigLENORE KEESHIG

Describe your new book or your work in general in two sentences or less.
Running on the March Wind is my long awaited debut collection of poetry that allows readers to view the world through Anishnaabe experience and perspective.

If you could only own one book, what book would it be?
Any book by Native American scholar Vine Deloris Jr., author of the best-selling “God is Red”

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Advice for aspiring writers – write about what you know best, and be honest with your word choices.