Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Giller Nominee Russell Wangersky

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The Questionless Books Interview: Giller Nominee Russell Wangersky

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.

Russell Wangersky is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction. Based in St. John’s, he is the author of three books and the commentary editor at the daily newspaper The Telegram. His books include, The Glass Harmonica (Thomas Allen, winner of the 2011 Winterset Award), Burning Down the House (TA), and the recently Giller-nominated collection of short stories, Whirl Away (TA).

Russell's Links:


I am too busy answer calls or emails.

I am known to regularly make up reasons not to answer calls or emails.

I do this in a couple of different cocoon-like office settings, often with doors or firewalls.

I do this because at heart I’m scared of others.

I do this when I fear that politeness might fail.

The way I do this is through studied avoidance. Which is why I’ve had this questionless interview for some time now.

At his/her core, a Writer is someone who toils, in print, to explain poignant and urgent parts of life.

As opposed to an Author, who is a reasonable market facsimile of a writer, but with a studio-ready presence, a quick smile and a plethora of witty rejoinders.

A Writer is responsible for doing lengthy spadework in the trenches.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for showing well and having perfect fingernails, while standing and explaining the layout of the entire garden that, possibly, someone else is maintaining.

At its core, Publishing is, at this point in history, a game of darts with an impossibly-small target, played like blind man’s bluff, with plenty of spinning in circles before the darts are actually thrown.

As opposed to Editing, which is painstaking detail work, all the while caught tight between the devil and the deep blue sea.

A Publisher should always refrain from explaining to authors why their books won’t sell, or can’t be published.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always immediately love whatever I send them, regardless of its motley condition.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is paginated.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is blessedly perfect there in your hands, a shimmering pearl, until someone reads it and officially or unofficially reviews it — at which point it will crumble before your eyes.

A Manuscript should always be as completely polished as possible, which in itself is a fiction that your editor will make you aware of almost immediately — but in Canada, with strange politeness.

As opposed to a Book, which should always have an excellent cover, a process which is completely, terrifyingly out of the author’s control, although you will be consulted before marketing makes the final call.

At its core, Bookselling is close to pure, true love.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is a lot like the oldest profession, but less in demand.

The smallest unit of narrative is “I.”

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is that it’s coming anyway.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is (see last answer.)

In the future we will all continue to read, through a variety of platforms and technologies, finding content from content providers. (Hopefully, all of it more clearly written than that last sentence.)

At his/her core, a Reader is curious.

However, the ideal Reader is in some small way, in love.

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