Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Editor and Writer Melissa Bull

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Melissa Bull

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales / publicity / production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Melissa Bull is the editor of Maisonneuve Magazine's column, “Writing from Quebec,” as well as the editor of Playboy’s humour website, The Smoking Jacket. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Event, Lemon Hound, Maisonneuve, Pistol and Matrix, among other places. She lives in Montreal.

Melissa's Links:


I am... a writer/editor/translator.

I am known to... relish chopping words out of texts.

I do this in... Word/Wordpress/InDesign.

I do this because... it gives me pleasure and a sense of purpose to think about language. Also I get paid. I’m grateful on both counts. Every day.

I do this when I...have had a couple of cups of coffee.

The way I do this is... I use one of those Italian stovetop percolators, warm a little saucepan of milk on the side. It takes a few more minutes to do the milk part, but it's much more delicious way to go than just the coffee by itself.

At his/her core, a Writer is... an obnoxious show-off, a witness, a lover of sounds, a curmudgeon, someone concerned with the everyday, the ontological.

As opposed to an Author, who is... bof, Maybe authors are prosier? As in prose writers. Can you call a poet an author.

A Writer is responsible for... getting stuff down. Staying curious.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... thinking in terms of hundreds of pages projects and discussions with agents? Maybe. Also TV interviews. Plus the above.

At its core, Publishing is... a way for us to share our ideas with words and/or other media.

As opposed to Editing, which is... a way of fine-tuning ideas via language.

A Publisher should always... a publisher’s got a tough job—bringing in money, pushing forward their projects... geez. They have to be entrepreneurial visionaries as well as have generous relatives or a real estate business on the side to fund the publishing.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always... trust their judgement. And remind writers to take out the two spaces after periods.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... spellchecked. Also, I’d be really grateful if everyone would stop using two spaces after periods.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... seriously edited business.

A Manuscript should always... wear black.

As opposed to a Book, which should always... colour block.

At its core, Bookselling is... something I was never hired to do, though I applied to every bookstore in my city when I was younger. Why, guys. Why. I would have sold the shit out of your books.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... are those the people who make tote bags?

The smallest unit of narrative is... punctuation.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... to see what happens.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... nuclear holocaust, alien invasions, when the poles melt and we live in the post-apocalypse. I’m so not kidding.

In the future we will all... wear one-piece Gortex pantsuits that attach to our shoes.

At his/her core, a Reader is... literate.

However, the ideal Reader is... an engaged thinker.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page